We are living in the dawn of Googlization and I noticed that those ingenius geniuses at planet Google have raised the bar once again on making information available for the common man, woman and child with a few simple key strokes and clicks. I’m sure you’ve seen Google map functions and their fun to play with satellite imagery — who hasn’t looked to see how their house looks from space. Now for those high steppers out there, Google has added a walking map function that is designed to give you the shortest, flatest, and most convenient walking path from where you’re at to where you want to go. As a City that is working hard to improve it’s walkability I was impressed to see how Google helps you walk around Kent. Check it out.
Here’s what Google software engineer Andy Schwerin had to say about the new Google walk around town function:
Walking directions are a new feature for Google, and while I’m pretty excited about it, there are some rough edges that compel us to release it in “beta.” Walking directions work well for short trips in urban areas, but we don’t always know if a street has a sidewalk, or if there’s actually a special pedestrian bridge for crossing a busy street. There are still a lot of pedestrian pathways we don’t know about, and they might save you some time if you find them. We’re working on collecting new data on pedestrian pathways and on more effective ways to solicit your feedback, so that we can steadily improve this feature and get you where you need to be as efficiently as possible.
Walking is a great way to learn about a place, to get around, and to get some exercise when the weather is nice. You’ll notice shops, parks, and public art that you’ve been accustomed to zooming past, and come away feeling like you’ve really gotten the insider’s take on a neighborhood or city. Of course, don’t get too caught up in enjoying the sights! Please be careful, and be particularly attentive in high traffic areas. Just like if you were driving, follow road signs and signals along your route, and use good judgment about streets that can’t be walked (there are many useful websites containing safety tips for pedestrians).
So here’s an example mapping my walking path from City Hall down to the Franklin Square Deli for lunch:
I realize given our relative ease of walkability in Kent this may seem like techno-overkill but considering how often I hear Kent State students say they don’t know how to get downtown I figure here’s an easy way to show them using a technology they can relate to. Ignorance is no longer an excuse.
Or if you just want to see how long a walk it is from your house to the library and back, this can be a personal pedometer. Or if you do visit a bigger City it does seem to offer a good quick reference.
Whatever your interest, Google has offered another tool to make walking easier, which given gas prices these days, has never looked better.