Kruger Park Digital Maps Proposal
This is a short proposal primarily concerning the Kruger Parks Google Maps location information and photography. The proposal will put forward a few ideas for the improvement of Kruger’s digital maps profile and also explain some core concepts and changes in how people navigate and discover the world around them.
Improve park visitor navigation
While the Kruger Park has a number of detailed maps, they are in an increasingly outdated format. Visitors only have the option of printing out or downloading the maps. As the primary method of navigation is now via GPS through phones using Google Maps, it is a matter of time before the Kruger Park will have to update their mapping resources.
Improve maps images
From a marketing perspective, images are a great way of advertising a location to visitors or prospective visitors. These images could also be embedded into websites and social media platforms.
Provide mapping and photographic training and resources
Once the Kruger’s Google Maps profile is up to date there is still going to be the need to occasionally make updates. Educating Kruger staff on updating maps info and adding photos will be crucial going forward.
What can we improve?
Currently there is very little information on Google Maps for the Kruger Park. While Google will add some basic information for you, it’s up to Kruger Park to add most of the important information, photos and 360 images. Some of the missing information includes camp sites, shops, restaurants, conference centers, toilets and local places of interest. None of Kruger’s 74 historical sites are listed on Google maps from what I can tell.
As many people, especially younger visitors, become less familiar with using regular paper maps, having accurate and detailed digital maps is becoming a necessity.
In recent years there has been a huge increase in the number of people planning their holidays, or looking at where to go, with Google Maps. It has become crucial for location based organisations to have high-quality images on their Google Profiles. These are often the first images potential visitors will see. While there are a few good images on the Krugers profile, the vast majority are public submitted and low quality.
Below are the first two images that currently show up for the Skukuza location on Google Maps. These images really don’t showcase the beauty of Skukuza. Adding high-quality images through an official Kruger Maps account would mean those images would show up first.
A really great way to show off a location is using 360 degree photography. There are a few user submitted 360 photos for the Kruger, but not many of them really show off the locations very well. Below is an average example of most of the 360 photos of the Kruger I’ve seen.
The image below is properly shot and helps to really show off the location and give visitors a unique perspective. A few good 360 images of the location, rooms, and amenities give would-be visitors a great idea of what to expect. These images can also be embedded into web pages like I’ve done below, uploaded to other hosting platforms, or uploaded to Facebook.
I am a Google Certified Photographer, a Google Local guide and I have worked with some of the world’s leading companies in digital image and video production.
Using Google Maps in offline areas
Roughly half of the Kruger Park is not covered by cell data. Up until recently that would have meant that Google Maps would not have been a very effective solution for navigating. In the last year Google Maps has offered an offline option on all platforms. Anyone with a phone can now have a functional GPS and mapping solution at no extra cost. Downloading the whole of the Kruger Park into Google Maps takes up only 50MB of data. Excluding the download time the whole process can be done in about 30 seconds. Below is a looping animation showing the Southern part of the Park being downloaded on a phone.
How do we improve?
Should Kruger choose to move forward with this digital mapping solution these would be some or all of the actions we could take.
- Adding locations to Google maps based off of existing GPS data from SAN Parks and from travelling through the park logging GPS data of relevant sites.
- Taking 360 and regular photographs of all the relevant sites and uploading them to Google maps and a shared location as a resource for SAN Parks to use.
- Adding relevant information like opening times and amenities to Google Maps locations.
- Create graphic and video resources for the Kruger Park website explaining how to use Google Maps offline in the park.
- Teaching and consulting any relevant SAN Parks staff in maintaining and updating the Google Maps profile.
- Photography lessons to any interested SAN Parks staff and local children.
Obviously these ideas and solutions are based off of what I think would be good for Kruger but getting feedback from you is a big part of the process. I haven’t covered any of the more detailed logistics here as this is the first step in the process.
I am currently in touch with Google about this job in order to get technical help, marketing and maybe funding opportunities. I will also be approaching Canon Camera company to see if they might help sponsor some of the costs.
The job will take roughly 3 months with me and one assistant. If the Kruger Park is able to provide basic lodging and transport (I have an SA drivers licesnse) I predict the cost would be about R150, 000. If that is beyond your budget for this kind of project I could try to cut some costs but at that price it is basically cost for me so I would have to try and raise some funding from sponsorship.
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