Nanaimo, BC – the Capital of Google Earth

Historically Nanaimo has been dubbed the Bathtub Racing Capital of the World, Harbour City, or the Hub City because of its central location on Vancouver Island and due to the layout of the downtown streets which form a “hub” pattern. It looks like that is about to change thanks to Google. In an article published in Time Magazine yesterday, Nanaimo has been declared 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. “Their citizens have more information about their city than the people of San Francisco.”Beating San Francisco in the e-stakes is a big deal for an old coal mining city of only around 78,000 people, nestled about an hour north of Victoria. What Nanaimo lacks for in size, it has tried to make up in sheer volume of raw electronic data.

It turns out over the past five years, Nanaimo’s city planning department has steadily fed Google a wealth of information about its buildings, property lines, utilities and streets. The result is, a clearing house of city data viewed through the robust 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.