By: Myles Ritchie
Back in February, TOC was approached by Google in order to partner with them on their “Trekker” program which allows virtual tours to be placed on Google Maps. This same process can already be seen with Google’s “Street View” application on Google Maps and is accomplished by carrying a 50-pound backpack with 15 cameras on top that take a 360-degree panoramic image every 2.5 seconds.
The Outdoor Circle was contacted by Google for this program due to our historical prominence throughout the state and for our recent innovative mapping programs. As a result, undertaking this project and forming this partnership with Google was a natural progression from TOC’s “Exceptional Tree Map” and “Citizen Forester” programs.
Since that initial contact, TOC’s Programs Director, Myles Ritchie, and various interns have used the Trekker on Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island in order to highlight some of Hawaii’s most iconic and unique environmental locations in addition to those of historical and cultural significance. The types of locations range from lava flows, the first two miles of the Napali Coast Trail, National Tropical Botanical Gardens and the Waimea Branch’s Ulu La’au Nature Park. However, it is important to note that the Trekker was not used at “secret” areas in order to preserve their current conditions. Instead, well known areas have been featured with permission from various County, State and Federal agencies in addition to private property owners.
While the Trekker was first used in Hawaii a few years ago by the DLNR, TOC’s Trekker program will feature the most Trekker locations ever attempted. With the first round of Trekking complete on Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island, TOC will continue in the fall with locations on Maui in order to highlight all of the accessible Hawaiian Islands.
It is important to note that this program was made possible due to a grant from HECO who fully supports TOC’s mission and this program of allowing individuals to virtually visit these incredible areas regardless of financial, physical or other potential limiting factors. This has been, and will continue to be, one of the most innovative programs TOC has ever worked on and will literally put TOC and many Hawaiian locations on the map for a global audience to experience and enjoy.
The imagery should begin to appear on Google Maps by the end of 2017 or early 2018, and as it does, announcements will be made on The Outdoor Circles Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts along with the TOC website (www.outdoorcircle.org) so please be sure to check back frequently in the coming weeks.
The Greenleaf is the online newsletter and blog of The Outdoor Circle. Here you will find updates on the projects and accomplishments of our many branches throughout the state, as well as programs with statewide impact.