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UNH Student Becomes Instant Celebrity Working for Google Maps

Release Date:
9/16/2011 4:05 PM
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University of New Haven: Googlemaps, Kyle Lambert, features Kyle Lambert '12

Sept. 15, 2011

WEST HAVEN, Conn. -- Wherever Kyle Lambert went this summer, he was photographed, followed and, in some cases, fawned over.

On some days he was the subject of more than 200 photos, and once during the summer, he found himself in a stranger’s wedding blog that was posted online.

Lambert, a University of New Haven senior from Columbia, Conn., studying chemistry and forensic science, however, is not a model.  He was driving Connecticut roads in a Subaru Impreza with a 10-foot camera on the top used to capture images for Google Maps.

University of New Haven: Googlemaps, Kyle Lambert, 500px 01

Lambert’s path through most towns surrounding New Haven and in Eastern Connecticut will allow Google Maps to update www.google.com/streetview.  Since he was able to drive many back roads, his work also will allow Google to post street views of some roads that previously were not included.

The car he drove had multiple GPS units on board and kept track of where he was and what roads were mapped.  Part of Lambert’s job was to be sure the camera and GPS instrumentation were functioning properly and that the images were clear.  “The images were updated and checked for imperfections every 10 minutes,” he says. “Part of my job was quality control.”

The camera, which is retractable to seven and a half feet, is positioned 10 feet above the car so that it can photograph homes, churches, stores, bridges and other views of the public roadway clearly.  Sometimes, though, the height of the vehicle posed a challenge.

“I couldn’t go through any drive-throughs,” he says. “And I had to be careful going into gas stations to refill the gas tank.”

Lambert drove one of three cars Google had in Connecticut this summer, Lambert says.   “Google tries to update its information every two to three years. It was a perfect summer job for me -- I was looking for something to occupy me for the summer and I like to drive.”

Lambert said most people were in awe of the car. They took photographs of him, posed in front of buildings he was driving by and in one case, attempted to dance in a crosswalk so they could, they thought, appear in the view. Google, however, eliminates people’s faces and license plates before posting the images, Lambert says.

One person even followed him for more than 10 miles, but after Lambert mentioned it to a police officer directing traffic in Meriden, the other car disappeared. 

The worst thing about the job?  Frustration in the Elm City because trees overhanging the roads often made it difficult to get the right views of the streetscape, Lambert says.  “But generally, it was a relaxing job driving around for eight hours a day and viewing the state.”

University of New Haven: Googlemaps, Kyle Lambert, 500px 02

A leader in experiential education, the University of New Haven provides its students with a valuable combination of solid liberal arts and real-world, hands-on professional training. Founded in 1920, UNH is a private, top-tier comprehensive university with an 82-acre main campus. The university has an enrollment of more than 5,900: approximately 1,700 graduate students and more than 4,200 undergraduates, 70 percent of whom reside in university housing. The university offers 75 undergraduate and graduate degrees through the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, the Tagliatela College of Engineering and University College. University of New Haven students study abroad through a variety of distinctive programs.