The Google Street View of Campus


Google cartographers rode around SDSU on a tricycle just like the one pictured here in April. (AP Photo/Mark Stehle)

Google cartographers rode around SDSU on a tricycle just like the one pictured here in April. (AP Photo/Mark Stehle)

When the Google Street View crew came to campus, we were asked not to say anything about it.  But now that it’s making headlines in such pubs as the Chronicle of Higher Ed and The Associated Press, it seems ok to talk about Google’s visit.

With more than 280 acres, and only one main artery through campus, San Diego State University has lots of nooks and crannies inaccessible to cars. And, therefore, the campus is largely inaccessible to the traditional vehicles Google uses to capture images for its Street View maps.

To accommodate places such as SDSU, that are dominated by pedestrian-only areas, Google developed a tricycle mounted with cameras that record 360-degree views.

The Google crew came to campus March 24 to scope the campus and returned April 7 and 8 for collection.

The Google technicians demonstrated how to work the tricycle, which I liken to a pedicab.  It’s lone passenger, the 10-foot and 300-pound camera apparatus, makes for incredibly awkward steering.

(I experienced this firsthand, as the technicians let me briefly ride the trike.  It was in a cul- de-sac and all I had to do was pedal and turn right.  I barely completed a circuit and drew belly laughs from coworkers delighted at my struggle.)

I’m looking forward to Google’s official debut of the SDSU Street View collection.  It will be great for prospective students and their parents to get a good feel for the campus, give incoming students a way to map out the best route to their classes — and let alumni fondly remember their days at San Diego State.

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Filed under Admissions, Alumni, College Community, New Media, Prospective Students

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