Written by Edward A. White:
Today Google and the City of Honolulu held a joint press conference at the scenic Hanauma Bay to reveal that Hawaii had been put on the map…Google Maps, that is!
After over a year of work using technologies such as Street View trikes and the new trekker, and collaborating with many public and private partners, the Google Maps team has added over 200 Street View-enabled locations throughout Hawaii, including some of our most famous tourist attractions. Notable additions include landmarks such as the USS Arizona Memorial, The Iolani Palace, Aloha Stadium, Waimea Bay, and many more. This is in addition to a number of college campuses, parks, and other notable locations throughout all the islands.
Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle was present at the ceremony to represent the city and county. He was quick to note Google’s generosity, pointing out that the street view project–active in Hawaii since 2009–had not cost the city taxpayers any money whatsoever. He also echoed Google’s hope that Google Maps will become a trusted tool for visitors to plan their vacations to Hawaii, and expressed his happiness at how Street View showcased the state’s natural beauty.
Google Street View’s project manager, Evan Rapoport, represented Google during the unveiling. While Evan was probably there as part of his job, he also shared another connection with Hawaii. After greeting the crowd (and being greeted back) with a warm “aloha,” Evan revealed that he had lived in Hawaii for eight years prior to joining Google. He recounted how the Street View Hawaii project allowed him to revisit places that harbored beloved memories such as a park in Lanai where he proposed to his wife.
His story reminded me of how I would revisit places in Hawaii during my deployment to Afghanistan, especially those where I shared memories with my beloved Dallas. We also used pretty much Google’s entire suite of tools to stay close during our year apart, and for that I will always have a soft spot for Google and its ability to be so essential that it can’t be placed behind a firewall.
All this mushy sentimental stuff has a point, of course. Returning to my awful opening pun, this is truly another step towards putting Hawaii “on the map” by making it more accessible from farther and farther away. Aside from the obvious benefits to Hawaii’s core economic interests, in making this data readily available, Google is bringing Hawaii closer to the rest of the world in a very human sense. By “putting us on the map,” those that can’t experience Hawaii for themselves can at least experience the island’s wonders it through a Street View camera and, I believe, take away a little aloha spirit even after the browser window has closed.
So, mahalo to Evan and Google, and looking forward to exploring the places in Hawaii Dallas and I will one day see (and photo) for ourselves.