I Live in the Google Capital of the World

March 12, 2008 Posted by Tyler Cruz

I received an e-mail about an hour ago from a reader of my blog (Jimson Lee of SpeedEndurance.com) who told me about an article on Slashdot regarding Google and my city of Nanaimo. Apparently, Time wrote an article a couple days ago titled “How Google Earth Ate Our City“.

Nanaimo has a population of around 79,000 as is located on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, so it is certainly not the first city you’d expect to be crowned the “Google Capital of the World”. However, I’ve known about Nanaimo and it’s being labelled the Google Capital of the World for a while now, as it has been in the local papers and media here for some time. I believe the front of the phone book even mentions it.


Here are some of the more interesting sections from the Time article:

When they hear the telltale sirens of a fire truck bursting out of the station in Nanaimo, the locals don’t need to look out of the window or tune in to newscasts to find out where the action is. Instead, they can simply log on to Google Maps or Google Earth and track the firefighters in real time as they tear down the streets of this Vancouver Island port community. The Google-enabling of Nanaimo’s fire service, launched just weeks ago, is the latest venture in a British Columbia town that has been dubbed the capital of Google Earth.

“With Nanaimo, they have mapped nearly every conceivable thing using Google Earth and Google Maps,” Michael Jones, Google Earth’s chief technology officer, said last August at a conference in Vancouver.


The city’s planning department has, over the past five years, steadily fed Google a wealth of information about its buildings, property lines, utilities and streets. The result is earth.nanaimo.ca, a clearinghouse of city data viewed through the robust and freely available Google Earth 3D mapping program. The site sorts and maps every business, from restaurants to car dealers, while a click of the mouse brings up the lot size for every property in the city, including the building permit number and zoning history. Homeowners can use the facility to find out specific information about their garbage collection schedule, while the city’s 150-year-old downtown core is rendered in 3D and dotted with 360-degree panoramas.


“We actually gave them our base map, and we were probably the first municipality to give them that data,” says Per Kristensen, Nanaimo’s chief technology officer. “Over time, that has just continued to increase.” Nanaimo is betting that embracing Google, the ubiquitous search engine that has become the starting point for most internet searches, will be good for tourism.

But what does all this internet mapping and graphing mean for the people who actually live in this Google-ized community? 


In theory, it could improve their lives by providing more information about the urban environment in which they live. 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, says Kristensen. A new multimillion-dollar conference center, opening in June, will have 72 wireless access points to allow out-of-towners to use their laptops to navigate the Google Earth version of the city.

View the the original Time article for more details.

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Posted: March 12th, 2008 under Miscellaneous  

25 Responses to “I Live in the Google Capital of the World”

  1. Tyler Ingram says:

    That’s pretty cool. I like Naniamo though I have only been over a couple times. My most fond memories is taking boats over to that island.. is it castle park ? lol I can’t remember but anyway… seeing the orcas swim along side the small boats (they were zodiacs actually).

    It’s nice to see Naniamo get known for something other than their deserts πŸ˜‰

  2. Jimson Lee says:

    Let’s not forget the home of Diana Krall, the classiest Jazz lady out there!

  3. David Chew says:

    All the place looks very nice.

  4. That’s really cool. But, kinda creepy at the same time knowing there are people watching your every move!

  5. Hi Tyler,

    I heard that on my way to the office this AM but didn’t realize you are in Nanaimo — I saw you’re in BC… Never been out to Nanaimo but looks like a beautiful place, so will have to head out there with the family.


  6. The one thing that Nanaimo really needs are Internet wifi locations. One time when I was there, I was driving around trying to find one. In Richmond or Vancouver, you can find a wifi spot in about 5 minutes. πŸ™‚

  7. Hussein says:

    That was a nice place. I wish I’m there.

  8. Flimjo says:

    Nanaimo looks real nice. But what is it about the bars that you don’t like?

    • Tyler Cruz says:

      LOL, it took me a week to understand what you meant…

      Nanaimo bars are a dessert here… and I hate them πŸ˜‰ I don’t frequent bars or clubs either though πŸ˜›

  9. hay tyler can I have your address so I can google map it to see how a pro blogger lives would be pretty cool

  10. Will says:

    sounds cool, what other cities have this?

  11. Is it that the pictures are by Google earth?

  12. Hussein says:

    You know, it is very far from Philippines. The cleanliness you see is opposite of what you will see here in my country. I really wish I was there.

  13. meatshake says:

    Very nice uses of google earth system. Now link that to a service like 3g mobile broadband in UK which lets you have broadband anwhere you are wirelessly and stick it in your car and you have some cool sat nav with uptodate traffic and accident warnings πŸ™‚

    I think I am the first to do this Tyler but if not sorry. Congrats on your pagerank coming back to 3 πŸ™‚

  14. Cooooool No Doubt, One of my friend is there in toronto, i will ask him to dig this out.

  15. I think it’s great that the Information Technology Department at Nanaimo City Hall has put Nanaimo on the map in more ways than one.

  16. Nice place you live in tyler

  17. Hi Tyler,

    I saw a piece about Nanaimo being crowned β€œGoogle Capital of the World” on the news a few days ago and was totally jealous as the images from Penticton, B.C. (where I live) are old, old, old. It shows a copyright of 2008, but the images are clearly pre-2004. Hopefully, one of these days we’ll get a real tech guy down at City Hall and get that updated. πŸ™‚


    • Tyler Cruz says:

      Nice to see you visit my blog Rosalind. I’ve read a bunch of your articles from Revenue magazine… I stopped receiving them ever since I contacted Revenue magazine and told them I was somehow getting them free, lol (they just started showing up one day.. I had never even heard of the magazine before).

      I also wasn’t aware you were a BC-er as well. It never ceases to surprise me just how many people in this industry live here…

  18. Ahh, the wonders of technology. Hopefully, they won’t go too far.

    It’s fun to see a future that could be.

    Hopefully we start seeing large scale integrations of new technologies in every day gadgets.

    I’d like to be able to start the coffee maker when I’m on my way home (cell phone), or check and make sure all the lights are off, from another location.

  19. […] Tyler Cruz.com: Nanaimo has a population of around 79,000 as islocated on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, […]


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