How does a bike service rider from a Lyari fishing family become a recognized Google Trusted Pro, valued in the promotion of local restaurants and businesses seeking to raise their profile, online and across mobile platforms? Swalay Muhammadi, 31, is a living testimony to this, who became a Google Trusted Pro, after having posted 50 specialised panoramic photos (known as 360° photos) to Google.
If a person becomes a trusted Google Pro, people will hire them to register and promote their businesses, restaurants, hotels and apartments on Google Maps. Google does not pay but the skill can be monetized locally.
Swalay is from a fisherman’s family located in Karachi’s coastal area of Baba Bhit. He started his Google Maps career from a firm that paid him to capture different mosques, sports grounds and other places of interest. He worked there for one year and kept adding places to his portfolio.
After the project was completed, Swalay continued to work and helped thousands of Karachiites by documenting unknown locations on the Maps through photos, videos and 360° images.
Due to his passion for this work, he took a job as a rider in a bike service company for two years. Whenever he’d go to a new place, he would inspect that area and check its presence on Google Maps. If the place had no presence on Google Maps, he would create its footprint there.
When Swalay left the bike service, he found out that he alone could not cover all the areas of Karachi. He started conducting sessions on Google Maps in Lyari and started imparting his knowledge on visual mapping via training sessions to young minds. He believed that his experience as one of Karachi’s Google Trusted Pros would benefit these youngsters as well as the citizens of this metropolis.
How to become a Google Trusted Pro?
A Google Trusted Pro is someone who gets 50 different 360° approved from Google. An individual needs a quality smartphone that has the feature of Gyro Sensor. One can capture a Google 360° photo through the Google Street View application, where one is required to start from a point and capture a complete 360 degree view from the same position.
There are levels from 1 till 10 in a Google Maps profile. As a person starts to contribute to the application, either by identifying unknown places, taking pictures or reviewing a particular place, they start to increase their profile level.
People who are able to reach Level 5 are rewarded by the company in different ways. They are awarded with 100 GB Google Drive data, access to applications that have still not been launched on the Play Store and various giveaways from the company. These active users are also eligible to apply for the Google Local Guide Summit, which is a four day annual conference happening in USA. A total of 150 active Google Local Guides are shortlisted to attend that conference.
Turning it into a business, a public service, and a hobby
If local businesses are looking to hire a Trusted Pro to register their business on the application, the Google Pro will automatically appear whenever an inquiry is made. This is because not everyone is able to add a 360° photo of a particular restaurant and people are left with no option but to hire someone for their business. A person is required to have at least a Level 4 profile to register and monetise a public location.
Swalay Muhammadi remains one of Karachi’s Google Trusted Pros. This was proven to him when people from USA, Malaysia and Qatar began to approach him. Anwer, who lived in India but was working in Qatar was out of touch with his sister for 30 years living in the Shamspir area of Karachi. After viewing Swalay’s profile on Google, Anwer approached him to get in touch with his sister. Swalay found her and reconnected them on a video call. The reunion was very emotional and Anwer’s sister started crying on call. Anwer kept sending money to her sister after their reunion, and Anwer’s mother who was living in India also went to Pakistan to meet her daughter after this episode. They are grateful to Swalay for his skill set.
Swalay has earned money by documenting various places in Pakistan. “In Pakistan, people still don’t know about this, but it is very popular in other countries around the world. Local Guides and Trusted Pros earn a lot of money in those countries,” he said.
After two years of constant hard work and dedication, Swalay ranks among the top Pros of Karachi. His profile is on Level 7 and he has 9 million views on his profile.