Linda Poon is a staff writer at CityLab covering science and urban technology, including smart cities and climate change. She previously covered global health and development for NPR’s Goats and Soda blog.
With no Google Street View team mapping her hometown, one woman is strapping 360-degree cameras onto the islands’ woolly flocks.
The folks in the Faroe Islands really want Google to put their hometown on the Street View map. Tucked between Iceland and Norway in the North Atlantic, the archipelago of 18 islands touts itself as a picturesque tourist destination for hikers and general lovers of nature and small towns.
But the island country’s streets and valleys have little online presence, and Google has yet to send its traveling fleet of camera cars there. Right now, the scant 360-degree virtual tours of the islands available on Google Maps are from contributors. So until the tech giant answers residents’ #wewantgooglestreetview petition, the islands’ tourism board has come up with a temporary alternative that relies on the area’s most abundant creatures.
Those would be sheep, which outnumber the Faroe Islands’ 50,000 humans nearly two to one. The project’s creators call the endeavor “Sheepview360”:
Take a virtual gallop through rocky landscapes and grassy fields via a camera mounted atop five of the country’s 80,000 free-roaming sheep as they bounce along mountains and valleys. So far, Durita Dahl Andreassen—the Faroe Islands native behind the project—has had the sheep map five locations. She told the BBC that, for each spot, she worked with local shepherds to pick out a sheep, outfit it with a solar-powered 360 camera, and send it on its merry way. Images are wirelessly sent back every minute to Andreassen and her team and posted onto her blog on Visit Faroe Islands’ website. She’s also made her first interactive video with clips from the sheep’s journeys.
Andreassen says she plans to gradually map more of the islands with the country’s army of wooly companions. Google didn’t comment when asked by The Guardian about any potential plans to map the Faroe Islands, but did point to its program that allows individuals to create their own Street Views with their own equipment or with Google’s cameras.
Perhaps then, the Faroe Islands don’t even need Google’s Street View fleet. Sure, this sheep’s-eye-view may be a bit of a rough ride for viewers, but there’s something to be said for getting a panoramic view of an area while its photographer stops to graze on some tasty grass.