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Google releases Street View data for national reserves in Kenya

Tue 15 Sep 2015

Google has today released Street View data from their initiative to include Google Maps imagery from Kenya, including the Samburu National Reserve, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. The project has been undertaken in partnership with Save The Elephants, whose Head of Field Operations David Daballen posts on the issue at the Google Blog.

Daballen observes that 100,000 elephants across Africa were killed for ivory in the period 2010-12, but also that numbers are beginning to recover. He also promises that an exploration of the new Street View data could be rewarding: ‘While you make your journey through Street View, you may be surprised what awaits.’

Google’s new Street View imagery of the Samburu National Reserve in Kenya

Google’s new Street View imagery of the Samburu National Reserve in Kenya

Google has had to address the problem of indistinct address location in Kenya, in order not to reduce valid addresses (the location of which locals may simply know through living in the area) to mere GPS co-ordinates. In April of 2014 Google created the Plus Codes API, which Google Maps software engineer Rasťo Šrámek noted in an August post will specifically help to provide ‘virtual addresses’ for ‘abstract’ locations in Kenya.

‘These codes can help many different people, in many parts of the world: Small businesses rely on customers being able to find them. Crisis response organizations rely on accurate location information–often long distances from established roads and buildings–to provide aid and save lives.’

A Google Maps ‘Plus Code’ makes a more readable version of the GPS co-ordinates for an indistinct but specific location in Kathmandu

A Google Maps ‘Plus Code’ makes a more readable version of the GPS co-ordinates for an indistinct but specific location in Kathmandu

Google maintains an active roster of conservation projects, and enables or promotes them through Google Earth Outreach, and has an especial interest in oceanographic projects, and also works in collaboration with the Jane Goodall Institute, which has used Open Data Kit (ODK) in collaboration with Google Earth and Google Maps on several projects, including Tanzania’s USAID Gombe-Masito-Ugalla REDD Program , organised to help protect 70,000 hectares of forest habitat where chimpanzees are threatened by deforestation. The REDD program employs ODK and Android smartphones to carry out inventory and mapping of the villages and forests affected by the scheme. The project uses Google Earth Engine technology to increase Tanzania’s capacity to monitor biomass and carbon in dessicated forests and Miombo woodlands.

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