Trailblazers Hiking Club Colab GOOGLE TREKKER - Hiking Cape Town South Africa

Google Trekker

Trailblazers Hiking Club has had involvement any numerous projects involving or promoting the positive impacts and environment that the mountain and great outdoors provides for all of us. One such project that particularly stood out was one involving Google.

It was in the middle of winter in 2016 that the Trailblazers got word of a new project launching around the world and better yet cape town needed help.

The trailblazers met up with Andre Van Kets in order to assist them with their potential partnership with google. The idea was to utilize the existing tech from the already popular google Street View Camera but with a slight twist. We planned on capturing 360 degree view imagery of South Africa’s Top wilderness, cultural and historic sites for Google Maps.

The idea was received incredibly well with over 22 volunteers coming together in only six weeks to assist in over 150kms of coverage and this was only the beginning. These volunteers naturally included the Trailblazers who provided a few volunteers to assist in the project and also qualified and trained to use the equipment in order to provide Lead Trekkers for the initiative.

Collectively Volunteers hiked 33 trails across the Cape Peninsula, including seven routes up Table Mountain, five beaches and three urban trails such as the Sea Point promenade.

Every where we hiked we would get comments, remarks and tons of engagement as one does not usually see a hiker carrying a massive box with a huge spherical head sticking out the top. This constant engagement lead to more and more people inquiring and getting involved with the networking by product of these interactions opening even bigger doors and ideas.

The Capturing initiative started to grow to such an extent that Cape Town alone was no longer big enough and the plan soon grew to a level of expansion that aimed to target the entire country. All in all over 20 national parks, eight UNESCO World Heritage sites and many more places of relevant importance and interest needed to be trekked before the end of 2016. This Resulted in the #TrekSouthAfrica campaign which was launched as a call to south africans to help put South Africas trails on the MAP.

We constantly assisted in establishing new routes, places of interest and pushing ideas to gain traction until the project started gaining support from a few significant stakeholders such as Wesgro - the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape, as well as South African National Parks (SANParks), Cape NatureEzemvelo KZN Wildlife and lead project partner South African Tourism.

This project then further gained traction by amalgamating with Google's launch of South Africa: Mzansi Experience in March 2016, which helped the world explore South Africa’s iconic destinations such as the Kruger National Park, Table Mountain, and Cape of Good Hope via 360-degree imagery from the comfort of your armchair.

We never thought that what we had set out to achieve so far back during the conception of the campaign would materialize into what it is today, but when you have passionate people with an incredible love for the mountain, the outdoors and those that inhabit and enjoy it, one can clearly see as we have countless times before here at trailblazers that anything is possible.

 

How does it work? 

Each “off-road” location will be captured with Google’s Street View Trekker, a wearable backpack topped with a camera system designed by Google. The Street View Trekker backpack is walked through pedestrian walkways or trails on foot, and automatically gathers images as it goes. 

 

 

Weighing in at approximately 20 kilograms, the Google Street View Trekker backpack has 15 five-megapixel cameras and takes a full panoramic photo every 

2.5 seconds, roughly one photo per step taken by the person wearing the camera. 

Google’s automatic face­ and license plate - blurring technology will be applied to the images collected by the Trekker, just as it is with all other Street View imagery.

Once trails are trekked, it takes several months for the imagery to be processed, reviewed and added to Google Street View.