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Project Gives People New Way to See Springfield

Michele Skalicky

The Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau is using a new form of technology to tell people about the city.  The technology, which allows people to get a virtual experience of Springfield, is on loan to the CVB while it takes part in a pilot project. KSMU’s Michele Skalicky has more.

Sean Dixon, interactive media manager for the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau, has gotten curious looks when he’s gone out with the Google Maps Street View Trekker strapped on his back.  The technology is on loan to the CVB from Google while it participates in a pilot project.  Dixon says the camera is designed to give people a better idea of what various places are like by using street view photography. 

"The project itself looks for destinations and places that aren't drivable that Google would want people to be able to explore through their Maps platform.  About a year ago, they were looking for destinations to partner with to, not only help them with the work, but find the locations and scout for them, so they contacted us about four or five months ago and said, 'hey, you know, you guys have been doing a lot of work with your green spaces and your parks, would you guys be interested in photographing them for us?'" he said.

Soon after the bureau found out it would be part of the pilot project, a backpack equipped with GPS technology, a computer and cameras that record 360 degree images along with a trainer arrived in Springfield in July.

Since then, Dixon and CVB staffers Walter Watts and Steve Ross have trekked an estimated 30 miles at about a dozen locations with the 40-pound piece of equipment strapped to their backs.

According to Dixon, the CVB saw it as another way to tell the rest of the world about Springfield.  He says they already advertise through social media, the Internet and traditional media.  This is a way, he says, to show people places in a way they might not have seen them before.

"The ability to walk around and see them for yourself versus a still photograph or a piece of video is pretty powerful," he said.

He hopes the project will bring more people to Springfield.

Dixon says he can’t say which locations they’ve photographed since they’re still being screened by Google.  But he expects the public to be able to view the footage in about six months.

Along with appearing on Google Maps, links will show up in Google Search results.  The CVB also plans to imbed the imagery on its website.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.