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Nanaimo, the Capital of Google Earth

Posted by on Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Where would you guess would be the most data-rich place on Google Earth?

I expect you would take a stab at Mountain View California, where the headquarters of Google is located? Silicon Valley, Redmond or perhaps New York?

No, it’s a small port town in British Columbia called Nanaimo!

How Google Earth Ate Our Town – TIME

Beating San Francisco in the e-stakes is a big deal for an old coal mining city of only around 78,000 people, nestled about an hour north of Victoria. What Nanaimo lacks for in size, it has tried to make up in sheer volume of raw electronic data.

I love Canada, and often like to do my virtual tourism using Flickr. Nanaimo was one of the many places we had been eying up on the real estate sites like This stuff just takes our research to a whole new level.

They have added mapping, terrain, points of interest and even every single business. If you are hunting for a starbucks, never fear!

Many key places have virtual tours so as well as flying over and virtually driving the roads, you can get a sense of being there too.

It’s not just tourism this is useful for either

The Google fire service allows people to avoid accident sites by tuning electronic devices to automatic updates from the city’s RSS news feed, says fire captain Dean Ford. Eventually, Nanaimo plans to equip its grass-cutting machines with GPS devices, so residents piqued by the apparent shabbiness of a particular park or grass verge can use Google to find out when last it was groomed by the city’s gardening staff. And the city’s cemeteries will soon be mapped to allow internet users to find out who is buried in each plot

You can get the Nanaimo date here, and get an idea of what it will be like when your town is wired into the nets.