Google Street View comes to Laos

Vientiane – The Lao government in collaboration with Google has announced that the Street View service will be coming to Laos, state-run daily Vientiane Times reported on Thursday.

The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications in conjunction with Google Asia Pacific Pte., Ltd of Google Inc. made the announcement, and the work will soon begin on the service.

Google Street View is a feature of the popular Google Maps website which helps users to navigate and find locations or businesses of interest. The program hopes to capture photos of Lao life, showcasing tourism destinations, lifestyle, culture as well as local businesses.

The Google Street View team uses a vehicle equipped with a camera capable of taking 360 degree photographs in high resolution as the car navigates the roads of Laos.

Phoukhong Chitlooklok, director general of the ministry’s Cooperation and Planning Department said that the internet had become a valuable source of information and that the Street View program would prove convenient to those visiting the country.

“We are excited about the use of Google Maps and Street View in Laos because it will allow many people to discover our country and effectively plan their journey when travelling around Laos,” Phoukhong said.

“It will also allow people to explore the country online and effectively give us an opportunity to showcase the beautiful Laos and its rich culture on a global platform,” he added.

Street View has rapidly grown since its launch in 2007 when it featured several U.S. cities. In June 2012, Google announced that it had captured 20 petabytes of data for Street View comprised of photos taken along 5 million miles of road, covering 39 countries and around 3,000 cities.

Laos is the seventh country in Southeast Asia to receive the service behind Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines.

At the project launch, Divon Lan, Google Next Wave Emerging Markets product manager said that close attention will be paid to state and personal privacy. Permission will be obtained from the government before proceeding into forbidden areas.

“The photos censor every individual’s face and vehicle license plates, with some people also requesting not to show their residence on the map. We will abide by the individual’s wishes, however they need to contact us to let us know,” Lan said at the event.

Vientiane will be the first focus of the project with data collection expected to take two to three months. After Vientiane, the project will move to other provinces.

It is unknown how long it will take the team to complete documentation of the country.

“We can’t estimate when it will be finished as several factors such as road construction and weather may affect the process,” Lan said.

Phonpasith Phissamay, a representative from the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications said that the ministry would check the images after they were uploaded onto the Google Maps website.

Phonpasith asked the public to cooperate and pay special attention to keeping the streets clean for better pictures.

“The photos will be seen on Google Maps for many years, therefore we need to keep the area nice and clean to promote our country to the world,” he said. Source: Xinhua