Google Earth, SheepView360 and the Faroe Islands

Updated on February 23, 2020
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

I love to travel and explore new places. I hope my articles encourage you to visit them too.

Faroese sheep with the town of Sumba in the background.
Faroese sheep with the town of Sumba in the background. | Source

The Faroes Were Not Mapped by Google Until 2016

The Faroe Islands are a scenic archipelago in the middle of the North Sea. Its population is about 50,000 people plus nearly twice that number of sheep. The island chain is almost equidistant from Iceland, Norway and the UK, and tourism forms an important source of income.

You may think you can see the whole world on Google Street View, but many areas are not yet mapped. The internet giant’s Google Earth website is amazing, but the images captured focus on urban areas. Most of the photography is done by a 360-degree rotating camera fixed on top of a vehicle. If an area is inaccessible to bikes or cars it is a low priority for the project.

Tourists hoping to view the Faroe Islands online found the island group was missing from the free Street View app. Their disappointment was shared by the Faroese because the stunning scenery and picturesque buildings are a key part of selling the Faroes as a holiday destination. So, in 2016, an enterprising islander, Durita Dahl Andreassen, started a campaign. She wanted Google mappers to sit up and take notice and map the islands in detail.

The Faroe Islands Are Midway Between Iceland, Norway and UK

A
Faroe Islands:
Faroe Islands

get directions

B
Iceland:
Iceland

get directions

C
Norway:
Norway

get directions

D
United Kingdom:
United Kingdom

get directions

The Faroes consists of 18 volcanic islands separated by narrow sounds and fjords arranged roughly in the form of an arrowhead. All but one are inhabited.

They are a self-governing region within the Kingdom of Denmark.

80,000 Faroese Sheep to the Rescue

The filming of highways and byways by Google Maps and Street View is carried out using rotating cameras mounted onto car roofs. Places that don’t have tarmacked roads are at a disadvantage, as it is difficult and expensive to properly photograph these more rural areas.

The key to Durita’s plan for filming off-road were the free-range sheep of the Faroes. The native Faroese sheep are sure-footed and graze unfenced across the hills and fells. There is virtually no part of the islands they cannot access (unlike a car or bike). With a camera strapped to its back, a sheep would be able to photograph parts of the islands inaccessible to Google cameras. Durita had the motive and opportunity to map the Faroe Islands; now she just needed the finance to carry out her plan.

Google Street View camera car.
Google Street View camera car. | Source

Success With Viral Marketing #wewantgooglestreetview

Google Street View has a scheme to enable professional photographers and community groups to capture hard-to-reach places. Their 360-degree cameras are available for loan. However, there are only a limited number of cameras available and the application process is competitive.

Durita needed to convince Google that the Faroes mapping project was one they should support. With the help of the local tourism board, Visit Faroe Islands, she began an online campaign to build interest in mapping the Faroes. A couple of solar-powered 360-degree cameras were purchased by the islanders and some hardy sheep were “volunteered” to be sheep-view photographers. A Twitter campaign was started with the hashtag “We want Google Street View”.

#wewantgooglestreetview went viral. Hundreds of thousands of people visited the website Sheepview360 which showcased images from the cameras strapped to the backs of the volunteer sheep. Durita confirms in the video below that no sheep were harmed in the making of this viral marketing campaign.

We Want Google Street View

What Makes a Good Viral Marketing Story?

Factor
Comment
Overcoming Adversity
Who can resist a genuine David and Goliath story?
The Wow Factor
The Faroes have breathtaking scenic landscapes.
The Aaah Factor
Sheep Cam is unique and quirky..
An Achievable Objective
Google responded and the Faroe Islands can now be seen on Street View. Case proven.
#wewantgooglestreetview was a successful internet viral campaign.
The setting sun adds drama to the town of Vagur in the Faroe Islands
The setting sun adds drama to the town of Vagur in the Faroe Islands | Source

SheepView360 is an Internet Sensation

The jerky pictures taken by sheep-cam and then uploaded to SheepView360 by Andreasson captured the public’s imagination. Journalists from BBC World News to The Washington Post, from CNN to The Irish Times, talked about, wrote about and shared the story of the plucky islanders taking on the might of Google. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all contributed to the buzz surrounding this story. All the chatter and sharing made this a successful viral marketing campaign that quickly achieved its objectives.

It took less than a year of campaigning for Google to be moved and impressed by the public’s support for the project. The result was they agreed to provide equipment and training to enable the mapping of the Faroe Isles for Street View. The video below shows how everyone in the community contributed and continues to contribute to this enterprise. Sheep, horses, bikes, boats, wheelbarrows and skateboards are all being used as vehicles to transport the special camera equipment and complete the filming of these islands.

In recognition of the key role played by the pioneer volunteer sheep in this project, David Castro González de Vega, Google Maps Program Manager said “It just goes to show – if there’s a wool, there’s a way.”

Google Arrives!

The Icing on the Cake: Travel Campaign Award Winner 2017

“Ulrike” (in tmf-dialogue.net 04/12/2017) reported that the SheepView360 project had a budget of just US $200,000, but managed to generate more than US $50 million worth of free publicity. She estimated the campaign received around 2 billion media impressions which in itself is a remarkable achievement.

The Faroe Islands’ SheepView360 campaign won the Travel and Tourism Category at the World Media Awards in 2017. This was an amazingly successful viral marketing project and it was carried out on a limited budget. It was a worthy award winner.

The Story Continues to be Newsworthy

This story is a great example of community action achieving positive outcomes.

  • Geographical isolation does not mean being cut-off from internet social networks.
  • Faroe Islands tourism has received a well-deserved boost in visibility.
  • Everyone in the community can be a part of a project like this.
  • Anyone can apply to Google to borrow a 360-degree camera via their Street View Camera Loan Scheme.

Faroe Islands Travel Guide

How to Get to the Faroe Isles

By Plane

There are daily flights to the Faroe Islands from Copenhagen in Denmark. The journey takes about two hours. There are also less frequent flights from Edinburgh in Scotland, Bergen in Norway, and from Reykjavik in Iceland.

By Boat

There is a regular ferry between Denmark and Iceland that stops en route on the Faroes. This is a car and passenger ferry, but the island is so small it's probably not worth the hassle of bringing your own car across. If you need to drive once you're here, there are cars available for hire. There's also a public bus service.

Cruise Ships

Several of the big cruise lines now include the Faroes in their itinerary. Look for the trips that are visiting the other Scottish Islands (the Orkneys, Shetlands, and Hebrides), and you may find that the route includes the Faroe Islands.

When's the Best Time of Year to Visit the Faroe Islands?

The islands are quite far north and so the weather is cold all year round. The best time to visit is between May and September. The longer days bring lots of wild flowers, and migrating seabirds to the isles.

August is the warmest month with a temperature of 11 degrees Celsius ( 52 degrees Fahrenheit.) This is the most popular month for tourists to visit, so make sure you book your accommodation before you travel, or you may find yourself with nowhere to stay!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Submit a Comment
  • Eurofile profile image

    Liz Westwood 

    3 months ago from UK

    This is a fascinating story. It makes me realise that there are still areas uncharted by google.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    3 months ago from Sunny Florida

    This is a fascinating, well-written article. I didn't know about the 360 view and much of the information about this island. I found this very interesting.

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