Google Street View Capturing Arlington National Cemetery, Swaziland

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-10-25

Google Street View Capturing Arlington National Cemetery, Swaziland

Google's Street View image collection project is always finding new fascinating and unique destinations to capture and present online for viewers around the globe. Right now Street View crews are in the field at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and have recently completed collecting images in the countryside of Swaziland in Africa to add to the company's growing collection.

The Arlington National Cemetery project began Oct. 20, according to a Google spokesperson, with a Google photographer walking through the honored cemetery area by area, equipped with one of the special panoramic Google Trekker cameras mounted on a backpack.

"We'll be using one Trekker backpack plus Street View cars on this project," the spokesperson told eWEEK. Once captured, the images will take a fair amount of time to be processed digitally and stitched together into panoramic images so they can be viewed through Google Street View and Google Maps.

After the photo-stitching process, Google technicians will then applying the company's face blurring technology that helps make sure that passers-by and license plates in the photographs can't be identified, according to the spokesperson.

The project is slated for completion by May 2014, just before Arlington National Cemetery will commemorate its 150th anniversary. Literally millions of photographs are being collected.

Asked how the idea was chosen for the project, the spokesperson said that Google is "constantly looking for new ways to bring Street View to places that our users are very interested in to make Street View as useful as possible to our Maps users."

Online visitors will eventually be able to zoom in on the images from Arlington so that many of the individual grave markers will be readable, according to a story in The Washington Post. "Cemetery officials hope the project will draw greater attention to one of the nation's most-visited destinations, particularly the areas of the cemetery that are often overlooked," The Post reported.

"This is a tool to explore the cemetery from your home," Jennifer Lynch, a spokeswoman for the cemetery, told The Post. "It's not the same as being here, of course, but for so many who can't afford or are physically incapable of visiting, this is a great tool to get a feel for Arlington and explore its rich history."

Online photo access is already available of the cemetery's approximately 400,000 burial sites through the cemetery's Web page and "Find a Gravesite" search capabilities.

Meanwhile, Street View cameras are also under way capturing images of the African nation of Swaziland, which will make it the fourth African nation to be featured in Street View, according to Google.

Google Street View Capturing Arlington National Cemetery, Swaziland

"Ever wanted to visit the vast rolling green hills of Swaziland?" wrote Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda, the public policy manager for Google South Africa, in an Oct. 24 post on the Google Africa Blog. "Google's Street View will now give you virtual access to this majestic Southern African kingdom."

So far, online viewers can now see images of the terrains of the Mlawula, Malolotja and Simunye Nature Reserves or take a step onto the country's Low Level Bridge, wrote Mgwili-Sibanda. "Users can also embark on an exhilarating adventure amongst the deep crevices of one of the world's oldest mines, the Ngwenya mine, situated near the north-western border of Swaziland."

Google has added a wide variety of other Street View images to its constantly expanding collection in 2013. In August, Street View released images of some of the world's most spectacular zoos and wildlife parks so that online viewers can see a wide assortment of wild animals from around the world right on their own computers and mobile devices. Using Street View, online visitors can now see panda bears eating bamboo plants and tumbling around the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China, where more than 30 percent of this endangered species lives in a conservation and breeding facility. The new Street View images also include other animal parks around the world, including the San Diego Zoo, as well as zoos in Houston, Atlanta and Chicago in North America.

In July, Google Street View cameras captured fun images inside the Harry Potter Studio in London to give viewers an inside tour of the world of the popular book and movie character. The images cover a portion of the inner sanctum of the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, where the sets and scenery from the beloved Harry Potter films are on display for visitors in real life, from the inside of The Great Hall to the oft-seen cobblestones of Diagon Alley, where Harry and his friends began their adventures. Now instead of jetting off to London, Harry Potter fans can explore part of that Studio Tour—the infamous Diagon Alley marketplace—using the 360-degree views and full-color imagery provided by Street View for their virtual tour.

In June, Google unveiled the collection's first-ever photographic contributions taken in the Arab world and from the top of the world's tallest skyscraper, Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The images at Burj Khalifa allow online visitors to get a taste of what it is like to stand on top of the tallest building in the world, according to Google. The images are the first time Google has captured skyscraper images using Street View. In the new images, virtual visitors can experience the view from the highest occupied floor in the world on the building's 163rd floor, and they can also experience being in the fastest-moving elevators in the world, which operate at 22 mph. Visitors can even see the highest swimming pool in the world on the 76th floor.

Earlier in June, Google added images of 1,000 additional famous locations around the world with new images from Asia, Europe, Latin America, the United States and Canada. The images are being provided to offer more information to viewers as they plan vacations or simply explore the world from their Web browsers, according to Google.

Google's Street View image collection has been growing regularly since its debut in 2007.

In March, Street View added spectacular images of the world's tallest mountain peaks, including Everest and Kilimanjaro, to its ever-expanding collection of photos from destinations around the globe.

Also in March, a Street View crew collected and released a collection of haunting images of the Japanese town of Namie-machi. The photos were taken to document the evacuated town two years after radiation leaked from a nearby nuclear power plant following the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan.

Rocket Fuel