The Challenge: To convince Google that it should visit the Faroes, 18 volcanic islands located in the North Atlantic, between the Shetlands, Iceland and Norway, to put the islands on the world map. Google has visited most countries on earth, but the Faroe Islands remain a notable exception.
The Strategy: To launch a unique sheep-based mapping system to unlock the hidden beauty of the little-known destination that is the Faroe Islands. To petition Google and to convince it to change its mind and to map the Faroes.
Why Sheep? Partly because of the play on words – from Street View to Sheep View 360 – and partly because the Faroes boast more sheep than people (some 80,000 sheep to 49,188 people). Oh, and because sheep can reach, with consummate ease, many cliff-top or inaccessible locations that would be tricky for humans. They are also easy and cheap to run – grass and wild flowers are plentiful on the islands.
The Modus Operandi: Simplicity itself – mount a camera on a sheep, and programme the camera to take a shot every minute and to send it to the Sheep View 360 Project Manager, Durita Dahl Andreassen, at Visit Faroe Islands, the regional tourist board, for uploading on to Google Street View and the Sheep View 360 site.
The Rationale: Says Andreassen: “The tiny capital of the Faroes, Tórshavn, is my home, and my colleagues and I want to share our beautiful, green and undiscovered land with friends and acquaintances around the world via Google Street View. As Google won’t come to the Faroe Islands, we decided to bring the Faroes to the world in another way – Sheep View 360.
“With the support of Visit Faroe Islands, our tourist board, and some friends of mine – an inventor and a shepherd – we’ve chosen the ultimate eco-friendly option for our equivalent of Street View – the humble sheep. After all, the Faroes were originally known as the Sheep Islands.
“We’ve mounted a 360-degree camera, very gently, on the back of a sheep, plus a mobile phone and some lightweight solar panels to charge the batteries; it weighs less than a kilo in total. The sheep walks around as normal, grazing freely while taking photographs of the rocky cliffs and open hillsides. The pictures are sent to me, with GPS co-ordinates, and I upload them to Google Street View.
“We hope that, by telling the story of the Faroe Islands through these images and via our site, Sheep View 360, we’ll showcase the stunning landscapes to an international audience thus far denied access to image-based mapping of the islands. In turn, of course, we hope to encourage more people to visit our magical wild landscapes and enjoy our warm welcome. We’re off the usual tourist trail, but have a wide array of ancient traditions and a unique Nordic heritage as well as outdoor activities (hiking, birdwatching, rappelling, sea kayaking and surfing) and an eclectic music scene.
“But, most of all, we hope that Google will be convinced by the Sheep View 360 project that it should put the Faroes on the world map and film our magnificent scenery, tiny villages and beautiful capital city; I believe it is the world’s smallest capital. Please help us by signing our petition at www.sheepview360.com and using the hashtag #wewantgooglestreetview to spread the message.”