Google kicks off the work to launch Street View in South Africa in 2010

Digital Content

The local arm of Google and Toyota will start taking snapshots of South Africa’'s suburban streets for the coming version of Google Street View in the country. Street View is a feature on Google Maps that allows users to gain a 360-degree view of a given street, or area.

The feature has become both contentious and popular in the established markets. It allows users to virtually explore and navigate a neighbourhood through panoramic street-level images. It is also available in Google Earth and on Google Maps for Mobile.

Google SA's newly-appointed country manager, Stephen Newton, announced earlier this year that the company had intentions of building a Street View version for SA. At the time, he explained international users would expect to see similar functionality in Google products to what they are used to.

Over the next few weeks, Google will use a fleet of Toyota Prius vehicles mounted with camera equipment to take in the Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, Durban and Port Elizabeth streetscapes.

"We are thrilled to be partnering with Google and supplying our fuel-efficient and environmental-friendly Prius for this groundbreaking project in SA. South Africans and international visitors alike will benefit tremendously from Street View, which is both fun and practical,” says Toyota's senior VP for sales and marketing, Andrew Kirby.

Tourism minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk says the Internet is a good way to promote SA and its cities. “Street View is going to make SA more accessible, both to locals and international visitors. It will give tourists a taste of the variety that the country offers, and a chance to research their holidays in advance, all with the click of a mouse.”

He adds that, with the upcoming World Cup, it is good to see an international business, like Google, deploying innovative technology to promote the country. While it will be some time before South Africans will be able to access Street View on products like Maps, Google says the solution will be available before the World Cup next year.