Google and local running group to map nature trails

JustRunLah! runner Paviter Singh Jahangir demonstrates carrying the Google Street View Trekker along a running trail.ST VIDEO: NG WEI KAI
JustRunLah! members Paviter Singh Jahangir and Benjamin Flint with specialised equipment known as the Street View Trekker, which will be used to map more than 30 trail routes around Singapore.
JustRunLah! members Paviter Singh Jahangir and Benjamin Flint with specialised equipment known as the Street View Trekker, which will be used to map more than 30 trail routes around Singapore.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

They will chart over 30 routes, focusing on parks, areas not accessible to Street View cars

Trekkers carrying a scaled-down version of the technology behind Google Street View will be helping to put Singapore trails on the map.

The Internet search giant announced yesterday that it would be teaming up with volunteers and staff from Singapore-based running platform JustRunLah! to map more than 30 trail routes around the country, using a piece of specialised equipment known as the Street View Trekker.

It took Google several months to shrink the technology deployed in Street View cars into a portable device that consists of 15 cameras and a computer mounted on a frame that can be carried.

The Street View app, which is available on both mobile and Web browsers, allows for 360-degree panoramic images of specific points on a map. It is separate, though accessible, from the more familiar Google Maps application.

The new project is the brainchild of JustRunLah! community member Benjamin Flint, who, along with his friends from the running platform, approached Google with the idea late last year.

"I was trying to figure out a way to run from Seletar to Dempsey without touching tarmac and it was taking me really long. I had to stitch together information from different applications to figure out the route. Then a light bulb went off in my head, why not use Street View?" said Mr Flint, 42.

BRAINWAVE

I was trying to figure out a way to run from Seletar to Dempsey without touching tarmac and it was taking me really long. I had to stitch together information from different applications to figure out the route. Then a light bulb went off in my head, why not use Street View?

MR BENJAMIN FLINT, a JustRunLah! community member who came up with the project

Google was happy to collaborate with the running group and the community behind the project.

Street View program manager Cynthia Wei, 34, said: "Street View has proven to be a useful tool for drivers; we would love to make it more relevant for Singaporeans who are passionate about running and looking for new places to explore."

The running group will be focusing on routes in parks and other nature spaces not accessible to Street View cars. It will be mapping more than 400km in areas such as the Botanic Gardens and Mount Faber Park. It hopes to finish the mapping over the next few months using one Trekker.

Google also announced that 30 newly mapped locations here are now available on Google Street View. These include both indoor and outdoor attractions like National Gallery Singapore and Coney Island Park.

These areas have been mapped as part of Google's Street View Special Collections, which is Google's initiative to publish images of interesting places around the world.

"Singapore is a top Asian destination for tourists worldwide, and having the newly added Special Collections on Street View will give tourists a first glace of what our city has to offer," said Ms Wei.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2017, with the headline 'Google and local running group to map nature trails'. Print Edition | Subscribe