LOST IN PARADISE - GOOGLE STREET VIEW HEADS TO RAROTONGA
The Cook Islands is a country, an island, in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean. One of the regions fastest growing economies, with fibre optic cable coming for greater global connectivity, it’s a citizen of the NZ realm, a developing nation. Today the Cook Islands is firmly on the radar of foreign super powers. Yet local Stan Wolfgramm still has to describe the directions to his house as, “drive past the airport, heading away from town, turn inland at super brown, head to the end of the road till you hit the back road, then turn right, take the third driveway inland, you’ll pass three coconut trees on your left and when you come to the big mango tree on your right, turn in here. I’m in the last house down the drive, the one with a green roof. Please hurry my son has had a fall … or please hurry my house is on fire…”
Is there a problem, Stan asks? “Well, I guess if you need an ambulance or your house is on fire, then yes there is. Actually, it’s more of a mindset that we’ve learnt to live with, but for how long do we continue to live with it? Is there an alternative?”
To have roads, houses, businesses, historical sites, emergency infrastructure mapped and available is today, for most countries, not just a luxury but a necessity. Providing important information for research and development to support ministries with climate change management, disaster response and resilience planning, for education, for business development, for cultural sustainability etc, etc.
In February, a collective of Pacific islanders, GRID Pacific, working to better the situation of Pacific peoples, will begin trials and, weather permitting, will map and ‘Street View’ Rarotonga's entire road infrastructure.
Director of the Global Reach Initiative Tania Wolfgramm says that “having high quality 3D imagery in Google Street View will be a positive change for the Cook Islands. Creating and publishing Street View imagery to global platforms, including Google Maps and Google Earth will open up opportunities that currently do not exist in emergency management, in tourism, business, and education and will take what currently exists to the next level”.
Tania and Wikuki Kingi work to promote platforms that allow Pacific people to express their own Pacific voice. They met with Google in San Francisco whom were happy to support the initiative but, because of the Pacific region’s isolation and small populations, saw this happening in partnership with someone who was prepared and passionate enough to manage the in-country workload and expense.
The GRID Cook Islands team will be working in collaboration with the Director of Emergency Management, Mr Charles Carlson, the Ministry of Tourism, and local partner Mr Stan Wolfgramm of Te Ara Cook Islands Museum of Cultural Enterprise.
Look out for our car with a special street view camera mounted to the roof, as the GRID Raro team drive through Raro villages between the 8th and 15th of February. As GRID Raro Manager and Creative Specialist Wikuki Kingi says, “This is a great time to ‘look sharp’. Prepare your village not just for friends and family abroad but to meet the world as we share wonderful imagery of Rarotonga, capturing the imagination of millions of people everywhere.”