Northwestern campus accessible through Google Maps Street View

Sean McQuade

People all over the world can now “walk” around Northwestern’s Evanston campus with the click of a mouse.

The University recently joined a growing list of colleges available to view in Street View on Google Maps.

NU’s involvement was primarily a matter of giving permission for Google to take photos of campus, since it is private property, said Al Cubbage, vice president for university relations.

Street View at NU and other colleges allows people to see parts of the school that are not visible from the roads surrounding campus. Viewers can now explore parts of campus that were previously unavailable on the website, such as the Lakefill, fraternity quads and around the library.

“It enables people to have a more comprehensive view of campus,” Cubbage said.

Universities, as well as other private locations such as theme parks and zoos, can request Google to include their property in Street View. About 90 colleges are currently on Street View, including two fellow Big Ten schools ­- Penn State and Purdue. NU and the University of Illinois at Chicago are the only Illinois colleges on the Google feature.

Google spokesperson Deanna Yick said Street View has been available for NU since November but was only publicized recently to coincide with the new semester for colleges across the country. She said the technology could be used by alumni and even parents with kids at the school.

Weinberg and Bienen junior Carrie Seavoy said the new Street View options could also attract potential NU applicants.

“We have a beautiful campus so it would be a great way to show off Northwestern to prospective students and donors,” Seavoy said.

In addition to the potential uses for people off-campus, Seavoy said Street View could serve a purpose for current NU students.

“For freshmen, when they’re looking for a building for the first time, it would help to have a visual of what it looks like,” Seavoy said.

The use of Street View could help students since the names of the buildings are often visible in the photo.

Collecting and processing the images can take a few months, Yick said.

Google has cars, tricycles, snowmobiles and a hand-pushed cart with cameras attached to take panoramic photos that are stitched together to create the image seen online, according to the Street View website. Yick said the tricycle was used to take photos at NU because it is small enough to travel the paths on campus.

Photos of NU on Street View are dated June 2011. According to Google’s website, Street View photographers try to take the clearest pictures possible when there aren’t shadows or inclement weather.

Cubbage said he does not believe the technology will have a significant impact on admissions numbers. He also added that Northwestern already has maps available online that provide information such as Wi-Fi and parking locations.

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