Google Earth in the Caribbean: “Street View” Capabilities As An Innovative ICT Way to Improve The Tourist Industry In Barbados and the Region

Submitted by James Bynoe, Senior Cyber Security Consultant
A Street View of Penguins on Half Moon Island, Antarctica - Click on image to be whisked away on Google Street View

A Street View of Penguins on Half Moon Island, Antarctica – Click on image to be whisked away on Google Street View

Today using Google Earth you can zoom into most neighbourhoods and business districts in Barbados and with just the click of a mouse you get beautiful “helicopter” type views of Barbados beaches, hotels, roads, homes, and more.  The level of detail provided by Google Earth is often quite amazing due to leading edge satellite and advanced imaging technology.

“However no Caribbean nation today had its newest feature called “Street View” which I believe could be a huge innovation boost to the tourist industry in Barbados and across the region…” – excerpt from Google:

Street View imagery is gathered by cars, or other platforms, equipped with advanced imaging technology. Once the photographs have been taken, they go through computer processing to make them ready for showing on Google Earth “Street View”.  The photos are then “stitch” together to make the 360-degree panorama that you see on Google Earth “Street View”.  Cutting-edge face and license plate blurring technology is also used to help ensure that passers-by in the photographs can’t be identified.

Google Earth’s Street View would provide potential visitors to Barbados with the ability to explore hotels, beaches and more through a 360-degree street-level view in addition to the current “helicopter” view provided by Google Earth for the region.  From the comfort of their homes potential visitors would be able to view locations in Barbados to help make that final decision, as they say “a picture is worth a thousand words”.

Barbados and no other Caribbean nation have the Google Earth “Street View” capability.  By using street view millions of potential visitors to Barbados would be able to view locations in Barbados from the comfort of their own homes it to help them make that final vacation decision.

Noting current challenges with the Barbados tourism industry and across to the region it may be time for public and private sector leaders in the tourism industry to aggressively approach “Google Inc.” about an initiative to “more aggressively” bring the Google Earth “Street View” capability to Barbados and the region.  Our case to Google as I see it would be extremely strong and would be a WIN-WIN for both Google and the region.  The Caribbean is one of the most travelled too region in the world therefore to me it only make sense that we have this capability.

Shared links on Google Earth – Street View”

This capability in my opinion would advance the tourism product in Barbados by providing an online visual experience of what so many of us in the Caribbean take for granted every day, which is the “pure beauty of the Caribbean at a street view level”.   For a potential visitor to Barbados being able to see “Miami” or “Dover” beaches via a “Street View” level could be the final thing needed for vacation booking to Barbados, which we all benefit from.

61 thoughts on “Google Earth in the Caribbean: “Street View” Capabilities As An Innovative ICT Way to Improve The Tourist Industry In Barbados and the Region

  1. It’s a good idea, but rather than it remain yet another good idea which never gets acted upon, can the writer explain how Google selects the countries it covers and how Barbados can push for Street View coverage.
    As an aside, I am not sure that Google knows Barbados exists at the moment. Most of the time it brings up the St Vincent country page as it presumably thinks I live there. Barbados does not appear to have its own country page.

  2. Google’s coverage of Barbados seems to be more “Satellite view” than “Street View”. I can make out the homestead in Barbados but it is not as comprehensive as my residence up here. Google uses large trucks with cameras attached to them as they peruse the streets to catch the images and sometimes these can be misleading e.g. this year I travelled to Europe and decided to look up the Hotel after I had booked and the photos were not appealing which was a far cry from reality as Google managed to catch the service entrance.

    With Barbados’ luck Google cameras would likely catch someone “losing some water “ against a pole.

    • @Sargeant

      Your concern about Barbados’ lack of a street view is what James has raised by urging government to approach Google. On one of their many jaunts overseas a minister can drop in to the Google offices.

  3. I personally think this has enormous potential. One simple application – SURFERS – whether board, kite and windsurf. Being able to log-on to images to see certain conditions. from anywhere in the world.
    Surely, we are looking for creative ways to attract visitors.

  4. @David
    As usual it comes down to money if Google believes that it can make some money from “Street View” in Barbados it will be done, but (this is my view only) I think it will be difficult as much of Barbados lacks the infrastructure to have an efficient “Street View” ; many homes lack numbers and although technically Postal codes/Zip codes have been assigned hardly anyone uses them. I know that the lot numbers of some homes are used as house numbers which can be confusing if one is using the North American approach to locating homes/ businesses etc.

  5. Sadly Barbados is too far behind in technology and technology thinking. Good idea, but not enough brains and foresight in the decision making halls to nake it a viable reality.

    And it would actually be free “advertising” too. Our actions tend to be 10 years behind our ideas.

    Just observing

  6. problem is here in barbados a husband will be able to identify an unwanted gentleman paying a visit to his house while hes at work

  7. @david
    “BU is willing to admit we have misinterpreted or missed something in the document.”

    nope. you haven’t. The major players are of the wrong generational / technological mix to appreciate the massive benefits, advantages and savings that technology use in marketing and advertising can bring if implemented properly and linked to the current physical marketing strategy. Then again, one would need a strategy to begin with for it all to make sense.

    Just observing.

  8. Hants I was wondering the same thing. If there were any street views in Barbados I hope that it wouldn’t be piles of uncollected garbage that would be seen.

  9. I would like to respond to a few key observations posted:

    (1) Google is well aware of Barbados as anyone on the internet can get within helicopter view of any place in Barbados with basic mouse zoom and drag skills. To include main roads, back roads, beach names, highway names and more… “we have this today via satellite we just need to next level down which is “street view”.

    (2) Most of the satellite data that fuels Google Earth’s internal software algorithmic models are obtained and provide free to the world by NASANOAA (U.S government organizations) and is also used worldwide by a wide range of climate and environment data analysis organizations like Google Earth, Universities etc.

    (3) In solving challenges “doing nothing” is always an option for those who like the inside of the box. As I see it we should be thinking outside the box and leverage technology like “Street view” in a manner that has not been used in our region before … or … We can cease to be the leaders we have been in the region and loose the competitive edge to re-emerging tourism competition from within our region.

    (4) If the government in very strategic and in a formal manner approach “Google” and make an effective case for delivering this capability to Barbados via a public private partnership (PPP) the potential global press and exposure related to such in partnership would be a WIN for Google investors and a WIN for Barbados. Lets be the first in the region with “Street View” and give folks on the front lines of our tourism industry like Adrian.L an effective, no cost capability that actually helps to grow business and bring people to Barbados.

    (5) Based on working knowledge of ICT giants like Google I don’t see any significant cost to Barbados in getting Google to bring street view to Barbados as the case with all the existing Street View” participants. What I do see is Google “Street View” leadership wondering why they did not do this in the first place.

    (6) Street View is not dependent on traditional postal zip code approaches (this is simply old school thinking) …. Just as you can view “walking trails in the Grand Canyon” which span hundreds of miles, no issues will exist with “Street Viewing” Barbados due to our size as compared to the grand canyon, and it should not take long at all.

    As a frequent world traveler I am still explaining to folks where Barbados is .. folks who should by now know Barbados. However many know Jamaica who years ago in my opinion did a superior marketing job with the “welcome to Jamaica campaign many if you may recall. The time is now to review, redefine, revamp, our entire approach to who our tourism products are and should be for a post recession world.

    Beyond just giving good ideas I am prepared to support any effort to make this a reality for Barbados.

  10. James your idea is great as long as the garbage is removed from the streets.

    This could be the start of a CLEAN BARBADOS initiative.

  11. Hants | December 22, 2012 at 4:51 PM |
    Who is going to clean the streets before Google cameras arrive?
    This is also one of my main concerns. Its almost impossible in Barbados to snap a street view without a pile of garbage of unsightly garbage bins in the way. Introducing street view to Barbados, is like cutting the tall grass and bush from the sides of our highways, it just exposes tons of indiscriminately dumped festering garbage underneath. We are not ready yet. (Check the road between Wotton/ Vauxhall and Ballantyne .
    Here is a pic of one of our famous ‘Heritage Alleys’ in Bridgetown. Is this what we really want potential visitor to see on Google Street View?

  12. I think the people who are shooting this down are perhaps the ones who are always shooting down new ideas. You also have to be at least familiar with something before shooting it down or making jokes. For example, it is not “real-time spying”, so the philandering husband will not be in trouble. Also, a number-based address may not be important, as Google does not show the correct house by number anyways.

    I don’t see this suggestions as out of the box; moreso, it is progressive and most likely a little or no cost extension of existing technology. Can we at least investigate and see what is involved? Rather than waiting for the streets to be cleaned up, perhaps this initiative would provide a push to get the streets cleaned up.

    I am willing to assist in any way I can. I work with Google Earth a lot and with people who are very good at applying the capabilities of Google Earth.

  13. @Sintie nobody is shooting down the google street map idea.

    What we are saying is that Barbados streets should be cleaned up before doing a street map.

    Barbados is a Tourism dependent country and the streets should be CLEAN.

  14. As i said in my last post, it is which great interest that i read the comments here. The title of this post is in part “Capabilities As An Innovative ICT Way to Improve The Tourist Industry In Barbados and the Region”

    For really outside the box thinking, how about Barbados develop its own version of the concept, implement it, use it to market Barbados and then sell it to other Caribbean countries? how much jobs and foreign exchange could that bring? in the above link i have shown you the technology is available elsewhere, even in Barbados.

    Why should Barbados look in the direction of Google? because they are Google? Well let me enlighten some of you who are in the darkest of the box you claim to be outside.

    Google started using a company which made the camera and software for its Street Views. Google now use, as i understand it from the original company, there own camera and software.

    Any one care to fill in the blanks as to what happened?

    David i for one would love to hear the BTA’s comments on something like this, AGAIN.

  15. @Encounter Barbados

    Please expand on your point. Google owns the technology to make Street View possible on their system so where is the opportunity to use homegrown technology?

  16. oh and by the way, what is being creating in the links above, Google has only started in selected cities around the world as test project. This is where you can walk down a street (virtually) and enter businesses.

  17. What i’m saying is the technology is available to anyone who wants to use it. What Google has is the brand name, Google Street Views.

    Did you look at the “Street View” i posted of St. Lawrence Gap. You can walk to Sugar in the night and if you click the sun in the sky, you can walk all the out to the beach. If you wanted to, you could go into a business in the Gap, view their menu or book a room or whatever it is they offer and walk back out to the gap. if you look to your right, there is a button for the same Google maps which gives you a directional view of where you are looking.

    The technology i use is not Google’s, as i outline, Google is now offering that service in select cities around the world.

    My greater point is if we are going to be looking to ITC, lets look at developing our own who will/can then go out and bring in foreign exchange for the country while moving our country forward.

    I was of the thinking that is what is being talked about on the national level and that is what is needed.

    Do we believe Google will do this for free because we ask them nicely? There will be a cost, so why not invest in that cost locally and let it make you some of the foreign exchange we need AND create Barbadian jobs?

    please note, i have long left the box in my thinking. so if it seems crazy to some, i totally understand. please close the box and let me go my mad merry way.


  18. @Encounter Barbados

    Will let the ICT gurus on the blog respond. The only concern we have is to what degree can the technology be easily replicated.

  19. The Google Earth “Street View” is a very good concept to help market Barbados especially to a younger IT savvy generation.
    Maybe we can get Rihanna to join the team that would be presenting the proposal to the Google marketing people.
    This beautiful young lady is again in the international news telling of her philanthropic contribution to the QEH in memory of her beloved ‘nan’. US $ 1.75 million is nothing to scoff at given the harsh economic times this country is experiencing. Maybe others would follow her kind and well appreciated act and do some good for humanity.

  20. @ Encounter Barbados. You have a great website.

    However if I am going to an address in New York I Google it and check the street view.

    A person interested in a hotel in Barbados is likely to start by Googling it.

    Seems to me that to fast track this Street View idea the BTA should contact Google (clean up the streets) and just get it done.

    Developing your homegrown approach could be focused on “beyond a street view” .

  21. David | December 23, 2012 at 7:06 PM |

    “The only concern we have is to what degree can the technology be easily replicated.”

    I have given you a couple links of the technology in action at work.

    more maybe?
    Barbados Museum

    Bridgetown, Barbados

    George Washington House – Barbados

    I’m not trying to sell a product but giving you real life examples of it is working in Barbados but i totally understand. The idea when pitched has been shot down by all kind of official in Barbados. Even in the case where it it was given to officials for free in return for access to places in the World Heritage Sites.

    Like i said, maybe Google would have more luck.

    Have a wonderful and Merry Christmas.

  22. once again Hants,

    “A person interested in a hotel in Barbados is likely to start by Googling it.”

    Go to Coconut Court Hotel’s website. The Tour start at the front of hotel. you can go into Coconut Court, the apartment across the road, go up the road to the Gap or tour the Garrison Historic area.

    again, what is it going to cost for Google’s involvement?

    and by the way, why do you keep talking about clean up the streets? We did not tell people we were coming so clean up the streets.

  23. not everbody can give money but it is a call to duty when one can contribute to the small nuisances that can be detrimental to a country rather than crticised .miller i am poiting my finger at you.

    • @Encounter Barbados

      You need to relax. We are discussion the thing. You should welcome feedback by engaging and not copping an attitude.

  24. David I have no problem with attitude and perhaps I am overthinking this idea but almost everyone I know uses Google to search.

    I am also biased because the city I live in has been Google street mapped and you can see my front door.

    • @Hants

      Your point is understood that Google is the #1 search engine and it owns Google Earth which makes the two a seamless operation given how Google operates.

      Encounter Barbados wants a piece of the action, the challenge would be how do we achieve the objective as a country.

  25. @ ac | December 23, 2012 at 8:20 PM |

    What has the miller done to you now? He might be in the mood for love but his name is not Moody’s. You know when you point your finger at someone there are always three pointing back at you.
    What you want the miller to do now? Give some of his millions to the QEH to end up in a conman bank account in Miami? Or you want the miller to clean up the streets of Barbados.
    Why don’t you donate some of your husbands untaxed legal fees income to the SSA to buy a few garbage collection vehicles to replace the 20 odd not in service.

    Why don’t you travel the South Coast road and see the mess the place is in? Bush growing in the gutters and debris all over the place. At least they could spruce up the place for the tourists attending the Cinderella ball this winter season even if not for the aesthetics and public health. With so many employed by the so-called environmental agencies for the pending elections why not put them to productive use.

    Even Hants who doesn’t live here knows how bad things are as far as public hygiene is concerned. Hants, you can imagine how things have deteriorated since last you were here.

    Ac, if you attack me on this one you also have to attack Colonel Buggy and island girl because we are singing from the same hymn sheet called “dirty Barbados needs a good general cleaning”.

  26. @David

    “Encounter Barbados wants a piece of the action”

    i was very reluctant to get into this discussion because of those words. having done my research, i believe i know about this technology, its capabilities and opportunities. I’ve put the project on the back burner for now, so there is not action to be had in the near future.

    However, my biggest problem where this is concern on the larger scale is that we as Barbadians always believe these “outsiders” know/are better than us.

    I don’t believe that for one minute.

  27. I did not interpreted negatively.

    just saying there comes a time when you stop talking to your ankle, butting your head against a wall and hang up your boost and call it a day.

  28. @Encounter,

    You have a great idea and your website indicates that you are capable of street mapping. Your focus on hotels is a good one.

    You need a private likes Bizzy or Cow and if you have a sound for profit business plan they will probably invest in your venture.

    It is too close to elections to get BTA money but after the elections?

  29. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.

    Just to close my loop from earlier. I was supposed to discuss the Street Views topic and possibilities with with some IT guys at work, but they were not in on Christmas Eve. I will however follow up and report whatever I find out.

    I also tried to phone Google directly but found that there is is no live person phone contact. Any direct contact is very difficult – I could not find an appropriate email address either. Snail mail is possible, or one could post a question on one of the Google forums There I found a topic “applications suggestions” where a Philippine was wondering about Street Maps coverage of Metro Manilla to support his business idea. Basically, he was told that Google does not take requests and it is entirely at its discretion which places will have Street View next. In other words, money does not appear to an object. Interestingly, the Philippine was met with similar comments to those arising here, with regard to need to clean up Metro Manilla’s visible poverty, garbage etc, to make the place presentable. On the other hand, some people thought that this is the way Metro Manilla is and that’s that. It is virtually/economically impossible to clean it up anyway.

    Back to Barbados – what exactly are we talking about with Street View? As strictly a tourism builder, Street View (when available) could be limited to certain selected areas and places – all cleaned up – integrated with the helicopter view for the rest of the island. There is then no urgent need for any formal numerical address system. The Street View/helicopter environment could be further extended with the virtual inside tours that already exist for some establishments (photos/videos can be submitted to Google).

    In the meantime, start the clean-up.

  30. Few points:
    1. Key to my recommendation is that the highest levels of goverment get involved as the only way to effectively get googles attention mainly from a PR perspective. Google should be approached in a formal strategic and coordinated manner, with multiple high probability paths to success. This can be done with the right folks leading.

    2. Rather then reinvent the wheel and noting the harsh economic times …. the time to innovate a street view like solution for us as a nation is not even penny wise.

    3. Until we as a nation one by one realize that many tradition ways of thinking are no longer applicable and cannot be upgraded to use an ICT methodor we will struggle with innovating thinking and entrepreneurship both things we say we want.

  31. It often appears as if what we really have is an “execution” challenge on ideas like this and others, which to me is worst than an ideas challenge … As often there is nothing more demoralizing in business than to watch your own good ideas get executed by “others”

    Execution is everything as often it is better to do nothing than execute poorly … however with effective planning and not hip shooting would be my recommendation to making this iniative a reality.

  32. In response to the following excerpt post:

    Quote: >> “Back to Barbados – what exactly are we talking about with Street View? As strictly a tourism builder, Street View (when available) could be limited to certain selected areas and places – all cleaned up – integrated with the helicopter view for the rest of the island. There is then no urgent need for any formal numerical address system. The Street View/helicopter environment could be further extended with the virtual inside tours that already exist for some establishments (photos/videos can be submitted to Google).”


    JB: responses

    Whether we will admit it or not Barbados is still in 2012 an “unknown” travel destination for “too” many travelers in the U.S and Canada (the markets closest to us) (FACT) …. and we have not been effective at addressing this (FACT). Today we still maintain a U.K leaning mindset at the forefront of our Barbados tourism industry which in my opinion has to change as there are too many eggs on the U.K side of the basket ..

    Fortunately interesting enough it will cost us much “less” today to address this issue in the US, Canada and globally due to the power of the “INTERNET”, which must be leveraged by folks that “understand it” in a practical, tangible, actionable and cost effective manner.

    Google Street View simply only represents “one” piece of what should be an National Barbados Tourism Internet Focused Initiative … An initiative with the primary goal of “REINTRODUCING” Barbados Tourism products to the world using the “power of the internet and social media”.

  33. The Barbados Minister of Tourism should facilitate a special VIP invite to Google CEO for a discussion on a Google “Street View” PILOT in Barbados.

    If coordinated effectively CARICOM should be part of the discussions from a post pilot regional perceptive.

    Barbados should also support Google in getting the “Google” Street View Car and associated devices into Barbados to begin the imaging process with a note to capture the best Barbados street views.

    • @Colonel Buggy

      When you watch a war movie which is regard as the glamour force? The army, navy or airforce?

      Same here, the tourism ministry is always regarded as the glamour ministry given the importance of tourism one may suppose.

  34. barbados needs to get into the 21st century, googling streets wont let people see who is coming in and out of your house, it would only show the street views more clearer, also why isnt the entire country of barbados have wifi, and natural gas in almost every parish. If you want to boost about the leading carribbean country, barbados needs to be more technology savy.

  35. James:
    There has been no activity on this topic for a while, but I will be in Barbados next week and will be in a position to bring up this topic to see if I can find anyone interested in moving with it. However, I think I first need to clear it with as the idea was first suggested by you. In so doing, I will of course give credit.
    A quick reply would be appreciated.

    • I believe this would be a great initiative for Barbados and the region in improving our overall tourism product. What organization do you represent? However any action that helps Barbados in this area you have my o.k. to run with it knowing its real world ict value.

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