On Thursday, June 12th, Google Street View Cameras were spotted filming at the Chinggis Khan Equestrian Statue at Tsonjin Boldog by UB Post staff.
This implies that certain monuments and cultural sites around Mongolia will soon be viewable through the Google Street View platform, although it is unclear whether or not this marks the start of extensive Street View coverage of roadways in the country.
Google Street View is a feature of Google Maps and Google Earth that allows users to see 360-degree panoramic views at any point along covered roads, as if they were there themselves. These images are typically filmed by specially adapted Street View Cars, which have driven down well over eight million kilometers of roads worldwide to give comprehensive coverage of 48 countries, with official or unofficial reports of filming taking place in a further 16 countries.
More recently, Google has started to send smaller vehicles, such as tricycles, snowmobiles, and trolleys to places inaccessible by cars, as well as the backpack-held “Street View Trekker” camera. The Trekker equipment spotted in Mongolia features nine directional cameras on an antenna to capture fully panoramic images. Google has recently made the Street View Trekker equipment available for tourist boards, non-profit institutions, universities, research organizations, or other third parties, to rent to collect images on Google’s behalf; it is not clear whether the activity in Mongolia is a centrally-run Google project or being orchestrated by a third party.
Google Street View coverage is being extended to various monuments and cultural sites around the world as part of the Google Cultural Institute project. One hundred and sixty-six “World Wonders” are currently featured as part of this project, from France’s Eiffel Tower to the canals of Venice, including 56 sites in Asian countries, including Japan, Cambodia, and India. The appearance of Google cameras at the Chinggis Khan Equestrian Statue suggests that Mongolia might soon join this list.
Although Google has yet to comment or officially confirm that cameras are operational in Mongolia, in addition to our sighting of a Street View Trekker, a Twitter user also posted a photo of the Trekker being used to film at the 13th Century National Park.
Currently, normal photographs—sourced by Google from a third party website—of a number of important locations in Mongolia, such as Sukhbaatar Square, can be viewed via the Street View service, however specially-filmed Street View photography is panoramic and interactive. It is unclear how long it will take for these images currently being recorded in Mongolia to be published online.
The news of Google Trekkers filming Mongolian cultural sites comes roughly six months after the Mongolian language was included as part of the Google Translate service. This breakthrough was announced at the November 2011 visit to Mongolia by the Executive Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, during which he met with the then-Prime Minister, Sukhbaataryn Batbold. It was reported that the extension of permissions of Street View cameras was discussed at that 2011 meeting, as well as Mongolian proposals to establish a Google Data Center in Ulaanbaatar, however there are currently no indications that this latter proposal is being followed through with.
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