My Twitter window blinked repeatedly with tweets from @SinGeo (“Google streetview is now live in Singapore”), @benkoe, @acroamatic, @keropokman and @brainopera. Everyone (okay, google and map geeks) have been waiting for this since the Google Street View Cars were spotted in Singapore in October. With these multiple references, I simply had to wrench myself from my marking and go see the orange man for myself!
So what is the significance of the Orange Man? Well, in Google Maps, at your favourite location, drag the orange man icon to a road on the map view. If the road lights up in blue, then a street view exists. For example, our small roads in the National University of Singapore are not included, so I examined the carpark at Lorong Bekukong in Changi Village instead. This is where the chartered buses drop-off and pick up 2nd year ecology students for their practical in the nearby island, Pulau Ubin.
Clicking the thumbnail presents this view below. Interesting, eh? You can navigate through the streets and clicking the icon at the top right corner of the photo presents you with a desktop-wide view – nice!
Car license plates, like faces of people, have been blurred. Still, you can see images of people in various places. Street View will certainly invoke the enthusiasm that greeted Google Earth over finding gems scattered in the many images – I am looking forward to tweets about the subject!
Meanwhile, Street View came in useful within hours of the first tweet – I was asked (not unusually), by a participant of this Saturday’s Sungei Buloh Anniversary Walk (SBAW), “which part of Kranji MRT to meet at?” I grabbed an image of the street view, annotated the image and sent this link over: http://tinyurl.com/sbaw2009-bus
Click for larger view
@acroamatic immediately asked, somewhat jokingly, “Wonder how many directionally challenged participants will cross the road to get a similar view…” Yeah, I wonder too!
This was an indulgence for a simple arrangement, of course. There is no need to provide pinpoint accuracy for every meeting point we setup. A bit of effort invested in coming early and figuring things out is good mental exercise for all of us. Tools like Street View should be enhancing our abilities to navigate and explore, not make us highly dependent on being spoonfed information.
For field researchers, Google Street View Singapore can be helpful. I will certainly use it to provide specific information about obscure meeting points at the edge of a mangrove or forest study plot. No more need to rummage my flickr albums and wish I had taken more photos of landmarks!
- Xu Weiting, my honours student studying civets in Siglap, has already examined the placement of fruit trees there! Urban ecologists will are going to have a field day!
- Another honours student, Chua Yi Teng, found an elusive (but numbered) lamp post which marks the entrance of a forest trail.
- I’ve used to to verify the identity of some wayside trees for a flowering project