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If You Give Sheep Cameras, They'll Help Create Street Maps


The Faroe Islands is a tiny archipelago about halfway between Iceland and Norway.

LEVI HANSSEN: There are a lot of people that don't even know that we exist.

MCEVERS: Levi Hanssen from Visit Faroe Islands says that obscurity has been a problem.


Like a lot of remote places, Google Street View wasn't available, which meant potential visitors couldn't see what they were missing. So the tourism board decided to enlist some of the locals for help.

HANSSEN: We're a population of 50,000 people, but we have approximately 70,000 to 80,000 sheep.

MCEVERS: Sheep - you see where this is going.

HANSSEN: We strapped cameras on the back of sheep and put the sheep out into the mountains and created our own version.

MCEVERS: The sheep started documenting the place with 360-degree cameras that ran on solar power. The technology worked great, but the sheep needed some motivation.

HANSSEN: You know, like when you go sheepherding you would sort of stand around them and sort of, you know, usher them in the right direction. And then eventually they started to move, so that's how we did it.


HU: And eventually they had this video we're hearing and images of the beautiful Faroe Island's landscape. They then uploaded the images to Google Maps. And instead of calling it Street View...


DURITA ANDREASSEN: Welcome to Sheep View 360.

HU: Sheep View.

MCEVERS: And five weeks after Sheep View launched...


ANDREASSEN: Look. Google is coming.

MCEVERS: ...Google brought their official Street View cameras to map the roads by car. They also brought smaller cameras so the tourism board could capture hiking trails and seashores.

HU: The images they collected went live on Google earlier this month along with some of what the sheep captured earlier. Levi Hanssen says they left a few surprises, so hopefully people will still go see them in person.

HANSSEN: We think that - you know, that it doesn't harm if we leave some places a bit more mysterious.

HU: And one thing to make clear here...

HANSSEN: The cameras were extremely light. I mean, we're really certain that the sheep couldn't feel anything.

MCEVERS: In other words, no sheep were harmed in the making of Sheep View. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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