The Center for Informatics and Data Analytics (CIDA), a research, consultancy and training center at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS), finalized its prototype of the very first 360 street view project of Hawary Shar, the second largest park in the Middle East that is located in Sulaimani, Iraq.
In 2007, Google launched a new feature to their Google Maps and Google Earth services called Google Street View. Google Street View enables users to wander around cities and towns on their PCs and smartphones as if they are in the town itself. Over the last decade, Google expanded the platform covering more areas of the world, making this feature the norm to check city sites and scenes of interest while planning for a vacation, a business trip, or just a visit. Yet, this service has not been created for Iraq.
With 200 individual photos, 100 hours of work, and a distance of nearly a 1000 meters, CIDA volunteers hope to end the shade over Sulaimani’s streets and eventually the whole country of Iraq.
The purpose of the project is to cover major cities in Iraq, starting from Sulaimani, to show the true nature of Iraq and put a stop to the stereotypical “war zone” and “unsafe” claims to attract tourists and exchange of cultures. Dr. Hemin Latif, Founding Director of CIDA states “Hawari Shar Street View is the beginning of a long, creative, and ambitious journey of using the latest in technology advancement to build the foundations of a smart city”.
The team thought of Hawary Shar as its target for the project implementation due to flora of the landmark and its controlled environment. The idea of the project, initially, was to cover the whole city using an automotive method, similar to Google’s approach. However, with limited resources and tools, CIDA members took the conventional way of using a 360 degree camera and a tripod to cover the whole distance and create the prototype.
Google allows users with a Gmail account to post 360 degree photos on Google Maps. However, viewers cannot move from one spot to another. Stitching individual photos with specialized software is required to enable the same feature Google intended to do with Street View. Therefore, there is a difference between static 360 panoramic images and a Street View feature.
The team behind Hawari Shar Street View is composed of three volunteer members who are Ms. Sheneh Muheddin, Mr. Berzy Bahzad, and Dr. Hemin Latif.
Users can now visit Hawary Shar, virtually, with this link: https://goo.gl/zCJHMi
Article by IT Lab Assistant Berzy Bahzad.