Google Maps Street View Set To Create a Virtual Cambodia

Global Internet giant Google on Tuesday took another step into Cambodia with the launch of its Google Maps Street View image-collecting project in Phnom Penh.

Street View, which currently allows Internet users to virtually ex­plore neighborhoods and sites in 50 countries, will take millions of photos of Cambodian streets and the Angkor heritage site, making them available for the world to view.

Google product manager and engineer Divon Lan said the benefits of Street View to Cambodia’s tourism industry will be immense. “Tourism starts well before someone takes a holiday—it starts in the planning, much of which is done through Internet research,” Mr. Lan said.

“Our mission now is to make Cambodia available to the entire world of Internet users, which will raise the chances of tourists coming to visit.”

A fleet of three SUVs, each with a custom-built device that houses 15 cameras and is mounted on the vehicle’s roof, will traverse the country taking photographs that will be sewn together to create 360-degree panoramic images.

A similar device, mounted to a rod that rises out of a backpack, will be walked to every corner of the 400-square-km Angkor complex, which will then become available, like Everest Base Camp, the Grand Canyon, and other world landmarks, for Internet users to explore in-depth.

“In 2009, tourism was flagging in Pompeii [Italy]. Soon after, we included the city in Street View and all of a sudden there was a 25 percent [year-on-year] rise in tourism there,” Mr. Lan said.

Google’s Cambodia project could take years, said Amy Kunrojpanya, Google’s Mekong region head of communications, but the locally sourced and trained team will make some images available sooner.

“It’s a massive project, but we hope to release an initial collection after a few months of shooting,” she said.

“Rain, smog, air quality, traffic, sunlight, can all affect our images, and if one picture is out, we will re-shoot the entire day to ensure that we show our location in the way it deserves to be shown.”

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