Google Is Photographing Every Inch of Florida's Beaches for Its Street View

Next time you're sprawled out on a towel on South Bech or lying in a hammock under a palm tree on Key Biscayne, don't be alarmed if a man comes stumbling by wearing a backpack with more than 15 cameras sticking out in every direction.

He's probably not a Girls Gone Wild perv, just a Google Street View tech working on the site's latest project: mapping every inch of Florida's 825 miles of coastline beach.

The project, which is a joint effort by Florida's tourism board and the internet giant, began two weeks ago.

Google captured the data for its Street View, which provides 360-degree panoramas from most stretches of around the world by driving cars equipped with special camera equipment.

For its latest upgrade, the site is looking to map notable off-road locations the same way. To do so for Florida's beaches, Google loaned the state two 40-pound backpacks loaded with the same type of camera equipment atop its Street View cars.

Two teams will trek every inch of the state's beaches, collecting the visual data that will turn into Street Views of the sandy stretches by next year.

"There are places in the world that are important to document with Google Maps, so we developed a fleet of street-view platforms or vehicles with the same technology that can go places cars can't go," Sierra Lovelace, a Google spokeswoman, tells the Bradenton Herald.

Word of warning, Google: Be careful when your team goes trekking down Haulover Beach unless you want to inspire a new round of Street View fails.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink