By far, the most effective way to inspire city and business leaders to invest in cool places is to have them visit such places in person. Unfortunately, this is where the ‘rich get richer’ rule applies, as oftentimes the cities that would benefit the most often don’t have the budget to do so.
Google is doing their part via their latest innovation, starting with the ability to fly through Berlin in 3D, via their free application, Google Earth. Not only that, they’re preparing to allow you to visit the same shops and see the same interiors as you would in the real city. To date, 10% of Berlin (44,000 buildings) are now live, sponsored by the City itself.
So, in the near future, instead of saving for 5 years to send 5 leaders over to study Paris’ cafe-lined pedestrian-oriented streets or the intimate piazzas of Italy’s smaller cities, 500 of the city’s leaders can take a virtual tour in 5 minutes, and probably be inspired to finance the trip themselves.
Yes, Microsolf Virtual Earth came out first, but unless you use Microsoft Explorer on Windows, you’re out of luck. So, for all those users and everyone else, there’s Google Earth.