Google Heads to Canada’s Arctic to Map Remote Community

Google Inc. is heading north of the Arctic circle to map a region of Canada with a history of dashing the hopes of explorers.

Employees of Google, the world’s most popular search engine, are in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut this week to capture images to be used on the company’s mapping and “Street View” applications.

The hamlet of 1,500 people is located in Canada’s Arctic archipelago along the Northwest Passage, and is known as “good fishing place” in the local Inuit dialect.

British explorer Sir John Franklin mapped the community’s coastline on an expedition in 1845 that ended with the expedition’s ships becoming lost in the Arctic waters.

It is the furthest north Google, which is based in Mountain View, California, has traveled to map a community, said company spokesman Aaron Brindle in an e-mail.

Members of the hamlet will participate in a “map up” in which they will use Google software to identify landmarks, said Karin Tuxen-Bettman, Google lead for the project. Company staff will then tour the community on a specially-designed tricycle mounted with several cameras, she said, to record a 360-degree view of the area that is only accessible by air.

“They warned us that it’s not going to be like working at the Google campus,” Tuxen-Bettman said in a phone interview. “We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the connectivity.”

The company is looking to expand the project to other Arctic communities, she said. “This time next year, we may be even further north.”

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