Google Street View maps Canada’s Arctic on foot

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Google Street View teams began trekking around Canada’s Arctic Wednesday, mapping Iqaluit with the help of backpack-mounted cameras and local expertise.

"The average temperature is below freezing eight months of the year. The roads are covered in snow, the bay is frozen and polar bear sightings are a frequent occurrence. Winter up here is a way of life. And the only way to truly understand it is to see it for yourself," Nunavut’s Chris Kalluk wrote on Google’s blog.

Kalluk is wearing a Google Trekker, a 40-pound backpack equipped with a camera system. He and other "trekkers" will be roaming Iqaluit for the next five days.

Google uses the technology to map remote areas. It’s perfect for Iqaluit, which has no road access, Google spokeswoman Leslie Church said.

Google Trekkers were previously used to map the Grand Canyon. This is their Canadian debut.

This isn’t Google’s first foray into Nunavut. Last summer, teams used tricycle-mounted cameras to map Cambridge Bay.

And like in Cambridge Bay, Google is making use of community knowledge with planned "Map Up" events.

"Community members come together and using our Map Up technology, they can actually make changes and input different local features onto the map," Church said.

"It’s just a tremendous way to actually tap into the treasure trove of local knowledge that you just can’t have anywhere else. Especially in a place like this where the knowledge is rooted in local culture and in languages that are sometimes not accessible."

The new maps should be available within a couple of months.