Jun 04, 2014 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
Some people would say being named the second-coolest small town in America this year has helped put Cazenovia on the map — and now that map will show high-resolution street view images of Cazenovia’s main streets and some businesses. This is because a Google Trusted Photographer team was in Cazenovia last week to photograph streets, sidewalks and storefronts for Google Maps’ “Street View” application — and the team will be back this week to photograph the insides of local businesses if owners request the job.
For years, Google has offered online maps for its users, and, in 2007, the company started its “Street View” application to allow viewers to zoom in and see actual streets in a community.
“When we first started Street View as an experimental project, we packed several computers into the back of an SUV, stuck cameras, lasers and a GPS device on top, and drove around collecting our first imagery,” according to the Google Maps website. “We’ve come a long way since our initial U.S. launch in 2007; today we’ve expanded our 360-degree panoramic views to include locations on all seven continents.”
Google trusted photographers now use cars, trolleys, bicycles, snowmobiles, backpacks and cameras on tripods to capture the world and allow people online to see communities, world landmarks, natural wonders, museums, arenas, restaurants and small businesses as if they were standing right there.
“We actually can go anywhere – some places we’ve even gone underwater … on top of a mountain and in the Grand Canyon,” said Google Trusted Photographer Jim Hilker, who, along with his son and partner Drew, visited Cazenovia on Wednesday, May 28, to photograph downtown Cazenovia for inclusion on Google Street View.
The Hilkers have been photographing communities and colleges in New York state and central Pennsylvania for two years for inclusion on Google Street View, as well as a new Virtual Area Guide. This summer they will be working to photograph numerous communities in Central New York, which is what brought them to Cazenovia last week.
Wearing collared, Google-monogrammed shirts and armed with a digital camera and tripod, the Hilkers photographed up and down both sides of Albany Street in the business district, and parts of Lincklaen and Chenango streets where there are businesses, where they took photos of the sidewalks and the entrances to every business.
Drew Hilker set up the tripod and took 20 super-high-resolution still images in 360-degrees at every location. When viewed, each image will contain directional arrows to allow viewers to navigate the streets; the arrows will also point viewers into the entrances to local businesses.
The Hilkers did not enter any businesses last week, however, although they spoke with some businesses owners and expect others to contact them about possibly photographing their business interiors in 360 degrees.
While the street views are free, business interior pictures will cost the individual business a $10 fee per month, Jim said. However, the interior views are intended by Google to inform Google Street View viewers of what is offered in a community, and, simultaneously, would allow for immense exposure to participating businesses, he said.
All of these photos will ultimately be a part of a Google virtual tour of Cazenovia, which is part of Google’s new “Virtual Area Guides” of communities, a project the Internet company started this year.
“The whole purpose of this is to let people decide if they want to stop and open their wallets and spend money,” Jim said. “We’ve been a lot of places,” Jim said. “We’ve done well over 900 businesses in the last two years.”
In addition to a community’s streets and storefronts, the guides will show parks, lakes, waterways, colleges and universities and other natural landmarks.
The Hilkers said that after photographing downtown Cazenovia, they planned to capture parts of Cazenovia College, Lakeland Park, Cazenovia Lake and Chittenango Falls.
The Hilkers already have photographed Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, Uthaca, Lake Placid, Watkins Glen and colleges such as Penn State. In addition to Cazenovia on Wednesday, they are also photographing Cortland on Thursday, then moving soon on to other Central New York towns and villages such as Skaneateles and Baldwinsville.
To photograph the main streets and businesses of Cazenovia — or a similar size town — takes a couple of hours, Jim said. “It depends on how many people want to talk,” he said.
The Hilkers will return to Cazenovia in a week or two to photograph the interiors of whichever local businesses invite them in, they said. “The more businesses we have, the better the area guide is,” Drew said.
“We’re delighted to have our Google content updated and anything new done to promote local economic development,” said Cazenovia Mayor Kurt Wheeler. “We appreciate anything they can do to bring customers to town and more people to our community”
Jessica Amidon, president of the Cazenovia Greater Area Chamber of Commerce agreed. “I’m looking forward to what this will bring. We are in such a wonderful stage of growth. It’s exciting to see what we have on the horizon,” she said.
The Hilkers could not give a timeframe as to when the new images of Cazenovia would be available on Google Street View, especially since they still intend to return this week or next week to photograph interiors of local businesses.
Business owners who would like to receive more information about the Google Street View program, or schedule a visit from the Hilkers, may contact Jim Hilker at 607-227-1367.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.