Google Names RIT Winner of Street View Trike Contest
University’s social media campaign helped RIT receive nearly 30,000 votes
March 1, 2010
by Paul Stella
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Google has announced that Rochester Institute of Technology will become the next American university to be featured in the company’s prestigious Street View Gallery. RIT’s selection resulted from of an online contest, held last fall, in which the university received a higher number of votes than any other U.S. location participating in the contest.
Google’s Street View gives users a 360-degree street-level look at important landmarks and attractions across the United States. Only a small number of college campuses, such as Boston University and San Diego State University, are currently featured in the Street View Gallery.
During the company-sponsored contest, RIT received nearly 30,000 votes to emerge as the winner of the University Campuses category. The other finalists were Arizona State University, Michigan State University, Stanford University and Princeton University.
Google will send to RIT a specially equipped tricycle, which tows a device the company says is “reminiscent of an ice cream cart.” It features nine directional cameras mounted above it and includes a GPS unit for positioning and laser range scanners. The “Trike” will cruise around campus and snap photographs, providing a continuous stream of 360-degree images that are later organized for public viewing.
“Google has already been in touch with us to arrange the timing of the visit, which will allow us to commit the inner campus walkways to Google Street View mapping,” states Daniel Shelley, RIT assistant vice president and director of undergraduate admissions. “The visit will take place sometime this coming spring. We have already been working on several concepts that will help us to better leverage RIT Street View for our public.”
During the public voting, RIT mounted a social media campaign to solicit wide-ranging support for its participation in the contest. University stakeholders—including students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and the community at large—were encouraged to cast their votes online.
Google reports that approximately 238,000 total votes were cast as part of the contest.
“In the first round, we received more than 25,000 suggestions, which we narrowed down to the 24 finalists that were put up to a public vote,” explains Dan Ratner, senior mechanical engineer at Google Maps.
Other winners included Boulder Creek Park in Boulder, Colo., in the Parks and Trails category, Boston’s Faneuil Hall Marketplace in the Pedestrian Mall category, the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in the National Landmark category, and the Detroit Zoo in the Theme Park and Zoo category.