Don’t be alarmed if you see people walking around with green orbs mounted on backpacks along your usual running route.
We use Google Maps all the time (no offence to Apple loyalists), and as its name suggests, we usually use Google Maps to find our bearings and to get to our destination. However, what many people do not know is that Google Maps is able to do so much more – finding out where your car was last parked, touring cities in stunning 3D (as shown in the visual below) and even creating personalized walking trails for those adventurous days.
Speaking of adventure, Singaporeans absolutely love travelling. According to the Global Travel Intentions Study 2015, Singaporeans travel up to 19% more than the average traveller globally and the top three destinations were Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Thailand.
Travellers, as curious and adventurous as they are, tend to bring up Google Street View to scout their travel locations when planning their travel itinerary. You could also use Google Street View to “travel” across the world, and that’s where you discover all sorts of things, such as this man eating a banana while dressed as a horse.
“Singapore is a top Asian Destination for tourists worldwide and having the newly added Special Collections on Street View will give tourists a first glance of what our city has to offer. Many people have told us that Street View helps them in their trip planning when they’re deciding places to visit while on holiday”, said Cynthia Wei, Street View Program Manager, APAC.
Being able to see where you are planning to go will let you know what to expect, and that assurance gives people who love planning (like myself) the greatest joy of all.
As of 27 April 2017, Google added 30 more mapped locations to their “Special Collections” archive within Google Maps, in Singapore. This brings the total number of highlights to 85 mapped locations, where Google Street View can give you a detailed first-person perspective of walking around these special places.
Take The Road Less Travelled With JustRunLah!
Question: Are Singaporeans truly thrill-seekers or do we all unanimously feel exactly what we Singaporeans always preach? – That Singapore is simply too boring?
If you have the heart of an explorer and aren’t afraid of getting a little dirt in your shoes, you’re in luck because Google, in collaboration with Singapore-based Health and Fitness Website, JustRunLah!, has found a new way to value-add to your local adventures.
JustRunLah! is literally about taking the road less travelled, or rather the least travelled, and capturing running tracks that are off the beaten path, along parks and nature spaces around Singapore. Through JustRunLah!, many runners are signing up to cover over 30 running routes in Singapore, spanning from Botanic Gardens to Mount Faber Park to MacRitchie Reservoir (totalling over 400km) while donning Google’s Street View Trekker that has built-in special 360 cameras.
Get Active Using Google Street View
I feel that this is a great initiative, regardless of how big the running community is in Singapore. For example, this would take Geocaching into a whole new level, and many schools can leverage on these elaborate maps to plan excursions and learning trips more efficiently, instilling a greater sense of environmental awareness amongst the younger generations.
My thoughts resounded closely with the words of Mr Peter Tan, Managing Director of JustRunLah!, “While Singapore is a small country, there are numerous running trails that our community has discovered, and capturing this online is a great way for us to share these hidden gems with more people. As a fitness portal that connects active individuals, we hope to make these lesser known places available to the public and encourage all Singaporeans – young and old – to get active by using Google Street View to help them plan an outdoor workout that best suits their fitness goals and lifestyles.”
Being the curious person I am, I decided to give the “Singapore Highlights” in Google Street View a shot, and I was genuinely surprised at the thoroughness and clarity of the results. Here are some examples of my e-adventures.
Mount Faber Park
MacRitchie Reservoir Park
Cloud Forest (Gardens by the Bay)
National Library Board Singapore
The photos taken by the special cameras on Google’s Street View Trekker were so clear that you could literally read book titles off the shelf at the National Library Board. Additionally, the walking paths were so thoroughly mapped that there is almost no need to physically explore these spaces yourself.
But of course, these images are essentially snapshots and not live feeds and in that sense, I feel that Google Street View has done a fair job of maintaining the spirit of exploration without spoiling all the fun. Therefore, I do see many people being able to plan a trekking and biking itinerary while being fully-aware of the next nearest walking path, shelters and even vending machine.
Speaking of vending machines, the collected images and mapped trails will all be embedded into JustRunLah!’s Singapore Running Routes Database, providing essential information to runners such as route accessibility and nearby facilities such as showers and lockers. Well, if you think you are up for a 5-10km walk with a 20kg equipment on your back, you too can help map the hidden paths of Singapore! You can contact JustRunLah! here if you are interested.
Moving forward, I hope to see more volunteers signing up towards this movement, and hopefully attain more coverage over cycling paths. This would prove useful for the huge biking community in Singapore, especially with the emergence of Bike-sharing companies in Singapore such as Mobike, oBike and Ofo.
I believe that this initiative would greatly improve the awareness and perceived accessibility of Singapore’s many green spaces, invoking an insatiable thirst for adventure and exploration amongst us Singaporeans, be it the young or the old.
As entertainment becomes increasingly accessible and immersive on our smartphones, computers and gaming consoles, there is an inertia to go out there and get all sweaty with Mother Nature to. With an increasingly immersive Street View of these green spaces, I’m sure that many of us would be even more motivated towards putting our foot forward to understand the history and importance of these unique little spaces flourishing in harmony with our bustling metropolitan concrete jungle.
So, the next time you decide to travel overseas, I hope you can ask yourself whether you’ve truly discovered all that lies in wait within this tiny island. Sometimes that seemingly-distant adventure we seek might just be a stone’s throw away, in this quaint little city; our garden city of Singapore.