On the Map: Houston Parks Unveiled on Google Maps

By: Nataly Torres

For almost a year and a half, Elmore Public Relations and our client, Houston Parks Board, have been working alongside Google to prepare for the launch of Houston’s parks, trails and greenspace network on Street View in Google Maps. You couldn’t possibly imagine our excitement when Google officially launched the images, giving the entire globe access to virtually explore the Bayou City!

How did it happen? It began when Houston Parks Board applied for the Google Trekker Loan Program in 2013. Through this program, nonprofits, universities and tourism boards can borrow a Trekker, a 40-pound wearable backpack with a camera on top that captures 360-degree panorama images. Houston Parks Board, a nonprofit dedicated to providing access to quality parks and greenspace for all people, was approved for the loan and soon after, received the equipment. In late 2014 going into early 2015, Parks Board personnel walked nearly 150 miles to collect images of Houston’s bayous and greenspaces. These images are then stitched together to be displayed on Google Street View.

Elmore PR’s role in the launch planning process was to develop a publicity strategy that focused on driving traffic to Houston Parks Board’s website, leveraging digital media platforms to tell the story, engaging key partners to spread the word, and securing media placements in print, online, radio and television.

Most importantly, our aim for the launch was to raise awareness for Houston Parks Board’s biggest project to date, Bayou Greenways 2020. A $220 million project, BG2020 will create a 150-mile network of connected parks and trails along Houston’s bayou system.

On Tuesday, May 3, 2016, Houston Parks Board joined Google at a press conference in Austin to announce 31 Houston locations, captured through Street View imagery, now featured on Google Maps. Now anyone in the world can tour the emerging BG2020 network of linear greenspace and trails, as well as view some of Houston’s beautiful signature parks that are adjacent to the bayous.

The publicity roll-out proved successful and the announcement received media attention from the Houston Chronicle, The Leader News and Big Kid Small City, to name a few. Web traffic spiked the week of the launch, May 3-6, resulting in 2,365 total web sessions, a 355 percent increase in comparison to the week prior.

As Houstonians, we are proud and honored to be a part of this project and work alongside clients who are as passionate about our city as the Houston Parks Board. Houston is evolving into a city that cares for its greenspaces and we believe that the Google Trekker announcement will bring great attention to our city and its beautiful parks.

Learn more and check out a virtual tour of the parks.