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Crews moving through Jacksonville Beach getting Google 'beach view'

7:36 PM, Aug 13, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A two man crew will be trekking Jacksonville Beach on Wednesday getting images for a new "beach view" feature on Google and Visit Florida.

Gregg Matthews and Scott Officer make up the first team, one of several that will be walking every inch of Florida beach.

"We've walked from the Alabama line to Panama City, over to here now and we'll go 100 miles south," said Matthews standing on the Fort George Island beach.

Officer and Matthews have been walking for five weeks now, and have walked 150 miles of beach a piece already.

"I'll literally have days where it's nothing but wind and waves and birds," Matthews said. "I won't see people for hours on end."

Each step they take isn't just a walk on the beach though.

They carry a 40 pound camera and transmitting pack during their walk.

"The camera has 15 lenses, five mega pixels, and shoots a frame every two seconds," Matthews said.

He says the images are uploaded via modem in the pack to a Google database. 

Each image is then geocached, electronically assigned a location, and then patched together to make the panoramic view.

It's like Google street view, but for the beach.

"It's going to bring the beaches to people who can't get to them," Matthews said.

It's a plan by Visit Florida and Google to market Florida beaches, and get folks away from the coastline thinking about the shore.

Amy Wirth lives in St. Johns, Michigan, the very center of the state.

We called her to see if, first, she likes the beach: 

"Yes, I love the beach."

With that out of the way, we asked her if a feature like this would appeal to the landlocked.

"Yeah I think so," she said. "Especially on a stressful day, I could pull that up and it would help ease some of that stress away."

Matthews and Officer have made their way through the Nassau County beaches and will be in Duval County Wednesday.

They plan to get south of Jacksonville Beach before the end of their walking day.

"In essence folks will be able to do a walk down the beach step by step by step," Matthews said. "They can see what it was like following in our footsteps."

Visit Florida, a public and private partnership, markets the state's tourism hot spots. 

They hope to have all the images gathered and beaches walked by the end of November. 

They say they'll have them uploaded for viewing by Spring of 2014.

First Coast News

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