The Technology Behind Bing Maps

Bing Maps was developed by Microsoft in response to the business threat posed by Google who also offer Google Earth Pro, for the visualization and mapping of much of the world using satellite imaging from low- and medium-Earth orbit satellites. The main competitor to Google Earth is Bing Maps which was created by collaboration between Yahoo and Microsoft and launched in December 2005. It uses a number of Microsoft technologies such as Microsoft MapPoint, Silverlight and Photosynth. Silverlight is similar to Adobe Flash and allows a user to get directions to specified locations, and views of urban landscapes. Street maps and photographs of almost all of North America and Western Europe are available online with 3-D visualization being possible for many of the larger cities and towns. Photosynth supports 3-D modeling of objects on the ground and allows the user to take virtual tours of buildings, sports stadia etc. Since its release, Bing Map’s data and features have been constantly updated. To maintain its market share, Google is working to improve its own product, Google Earth. In June 2009 Google was still the dominant player in this market with some 72% of market share as against Bing Map’s 9% but by January 2010 these figures had changed to 65.5% and 11.5% respectively.

How does it fit into the larger ecosystem of computing, especially GIS?

The “computing ecosystem” is a new term to describe the new virtual reality of increasingly inter-related networked systems and the devices which use them. The GIS technologies of returning images of the Earth from satellites link into satellite navigation devices, mobile telephone technology and land-based Internet connections.

What are its underlying concepts?

Bing Maps uses modern Internet technology and infrastructure. The system processes very large data sets of GIS data in visual form with text data for coordinate and geographic placing. Because of the size of the database, which is constantly being updated as data arrives from the satellites, it is distributed on numerous mirrored clustered servers – so called “commodity” servers. The data is partitioned between these clusters which are connected via a high-bandwidth dedicated link. To process the client query, Microsoft uses a neural net system to rank the incoming query and direct it to the appropriate cluster(s). Neural networks are also used to process the back-end of the problem i.e. the aggregation of multiple results.

Many languages have been suggested for the parallel processing of distributed databases but one used by Microsoft itself is called “SCOPE” – Structured Computations Optimized for Parallel Execution”. This is a language based on SQL with extensions to allow for simultaneous processing in different server locations. Its authors state that, being based upon standard relational database technology, it will perform like a normal sequential query language, but the extensions allow it also to work equally well in distributed mode.

Numerous algorithms for optimizing Bing Maps performance are also in existence. For example, one of its features is the use of “pushpins” – map markers in the shape of a thumb tack to pinpoint a particular location. Large numbers of these in a single map will reduce the performance. A lot of work is currently being undertaken to develop algorithms for client-side pre-processing by, for example, amalgamating large numbers of clusters for faster processing and better legibility.

Who should use the application?

Internet users who are looking for the geographical features of a targeted area should use this application. Users will be able to find and query web maps in order to use them practically. It will find, as does Google Earth now, applications in transportation, logistics, town planning, new infrastructure development, driving directions, traffic management, architectural design, civil engineering, pipe- and cable-laying, surveying, land registration, property management, property taxation, environmental monitoring, the proximity analysis of critical projects, geography teaching, geological mapping and mineral prospecting, air and sea navigation and many more. Undoubtedly, however, very many people will use it as an extension to the many rapidly-developing social computing networks. It is already part of the real-time content of Twitter and Facebook.

The level at which Bing Maps have been developed has enabled the applications of a variety of features. This is achieved through the use of SilverLight Control technology. Through this Bing Map platform, a lot of information can be harnessed easily especially when critical analysis is required. This additional feature which was developed lately enables an online mapping exercise to be executed with extra precision and minimal error. In order to achieve this Bing Map-enabled technology, there are quite a number of platforms which can be put into play. For instance, the photosynth parameter plays the role of converting digital images into well elaborate picture which can be comprehended and interpreted by users in a more coherent manner. This technological application enables the display of extensive picture details. In a more similar trend, the Bing Map technology can be transferred into the use of mobile devices and not only static machines. One particular mobile device which has been enhanced to use Bing Map imagery application is the iPhone. It is capable of harnessing the Bing Map details through the internet-enabled browsers.

In order for the Bing Maps to be available for different application needs, there are currently a myriad of addresses which are specifically meant for the application. These are refereed to as rooftop addresses and they amount to a total of seventy one million. More than half of these Bing Map addresses are operational in the United States of America. In addition, Bing Map image application have been developed and customized to enable the viewing of the surface below using an aerial approach. Clear pictures can still be seen through the adjustment of zooming properties of the Bing Map image application. This type of viewing is referred to as a bird’s eye view due to the ability to oversee all the locations below from an aerial perspective. Moreover, an individual who is using the Bing Map Geographic Information Systems application is capable of using a Streetside feature which enables the user to be in real proximal experience with locations which are far much below. This Bing Map feature is accompanied with a Geocoding and a Reverse Geocoding facility which works towards giving the most detailed information about the location being surveyed. This property is also more reliable when it comes to the need for comprehensive outcomes. The local Geocoding and Reverse Geocoding Bing Map feature can be extended to serve remote locations just as if the region being surveyed is within the proximity of the Bing Map device. Through this enhancement, local directions at whatever location in the world can be traced with much ease. For example, an individual who is walking or driving through a street can be able to precisely identify the exact location he is as well as locate other directions of interest. This feature has furthermore been customized into fifteen languages to cater for nationalities of diverse origins.

There are several benefits which definitely arise from the Bing Map feature. For instance, there are countries which are already experiencing improved match rates for their users. This has influenced the global accessibility of locations in a more convenient way. Besides, individuals and companies can still make use of the Bing Maps internet services which allow the use of graphic images of pictures as well accessing maps directly through a platform called tiling as well as routing services. This feature can further be improved through a picture enlargement scheme called Pushpin Clustering. This facility will enable the user to coherently focus a series of grouped locations through an LBR feature. The main target feature in this application is the ability to locate notable locations on the surface of the earth which are considered to be landmarks. Through the location of landmarks, users can be able to proceed and as well identify other points of interest.

Another important end use of Bing Maps is in the control of traffic movement through real time delivery of traffic information to the concerned traffic control officers who then disseminate the very information to affected parties or take necessary actions to control the menace. This has been found to help users avoid traffic congestion which is usually experienced during rush hours or in emergencies.

In addition, those who have adopted the use of Bing Map feature are also liable to use the application called GeoRSS feeds. This application enables the Bing Map users to explore a variety of other intrinsic features which are not available within their reach. A good example is seen in the manipulation of shapes. These can be transferred directly from remote locations and be availed within the reach of the users. On a similar note, polylines can equally be made available through the importation procedure of the GeoRSS feeds system. It can therefore be seen that the Bing Maps developed by Yahoo and Microsoft Corporation is equally proving to be a real competitor to Google Maps which have dominated the Geographic Information systems for a considerable length of time.

The Microsoft Virtual Earth platform can be used by a variety of consumers ranging from corporate organizations to individual enthusiasts. In its usage, the Bing Maps have four pathways which are designated as APIs. The most notable is the one which makes of photoelectric effect from metallic silver. It utilizes this technology to regulate and harness the management of maps both on an aerial and ground view. Moreover, a closely related but uniquely different API is the line-built operation which still relies on silverlight but with a different designation labeled 3. Additionally, the AJAX regulator is another important API. The AJAX map item alongside with the combined use of the Bing Maps can allow consumers of this GIS package to make transfers of important details through a JavaScript. The other category is the web-enabled services of the Bing Maps as well as the MapPoint. The latter are very crucial in facilitating the exchange of communication between or among different users who are remotely located. The SOAP XML is the vital interface in this application because it bridges the information flow and exchange among a variety of Bing Map users.

The bing.com/maps site is distinguished from the Bing Maps due to a variety of reasons. It should be noted that the latter is a wholesome infused and condensed system aimed at modeling geospatial data so that it can be of intrinsic use to the final consumer in a more comprehensive way. The final information which is relayed to the consumer has been refined to ease understanding. On the other hand, the site mentioned above is specifically meant to help web users to facilitate search options which have been enhance by the Bing Maps. It is more of an interactive site where organizations or government departments or even individuals can learn or identify specific zones of interest.

The Bing Maps can also be used for commercial purposes. This commercial type has been user defined with more customized features to enable business applications. There are more images and different degrees of operation. The Microsoft Virtual Earth has the same level of operation as the Bing Maps. The only difference which took place is the conversion of the name. However, all the other operations which were being experienced in the Microsoft Virtual Earth are equally the same as those in the Bing Maps. These include the level of performance as well as other inbuilt features like the ability to cover the whole world. Moreover, an extension of the Bing Map Web Services has a variety of extra services more than the older version of the MapPoint. Besides, a one box search is a dominant feature in this current version. It is capable of using a dynamic device like an enhanced mobile telephony which can exhibit highly focused pictures.

Sessions are usually recorded when the Bing Maps are in operation. This operation has to be initiated through a unique key command. The onset of the session marks the actual recording of the parameter under investigation in which there is a close interaction between the browsing software and the Optimum Bing Map image system.

In order to ensure that information privacy and some degree of confidentiality is maintained between the Bing Map user and other developers, Microsoft Corporation has instituted measures in place to cater for this uncertainty and loophole in the system. Right from the development of the Bing Maps, these concerns had already been borne into mind. There is an automatic Microsoft program which is previously installed in the component. The program works along with advanced algorithms to take note of the individual’s identification as a security measure. This security technology has been developed after several years of research in Microsoft Corporation laboratories.

Finally, an interesting feature of the Bing Maps is that it can assist to quantitatively provide data on the parallels of latitude as well as the longitudes. The Bing Maps can adequately deliver both ordinates. This is achieved through the use of the identifications code of a place. The code can be the address. Also, it should be noted that all communication to do with this GIS technology can be encrypted using the system features. It is therefore imperative to validate all type of communication and information which is transmitted through the Bing Map technology.

There are several beneficiaries of the Bing Map geospatial imaging technique. To begin with, the education sector can make use of this application through the online sharing and location of important academic centers. Learners as well as the college staff alongside other people who may not be acquitted with the location of the learning centre can use the Bing Map feature to navigate which way to go. Moreover, the photosynth can enable the campus community to survey different locations within the institution without making several movements. This technology can also enable an educational centre to simulate data which is contained in the Bing Maps on matters related to security as well as the pattern at which students have been admitted as well as left the institution.

Another group of beneficiaries to this technology is the government. The planning aspect of government agencies and departments and how far it can be successful can be aided with the use of Bing Maps. When this GIS technology is well instituted in place, it can assist the government to predict some of the forthcoming events which may be hazardous and as a result take the relevant actions as a matter of urgency. Moreover, the evaluation of large data bases due to extensive influx of information can be achieved in the best way through the use of Bing Maps technology.

Another additional positive attribute of the Bing Maps to the government is that it can provide the latter with an enhanced zoning of similar information clusters. This will further improve the overall operations of the concerned organization by ensuring that there is more insight and fewer hypotheses in the overall progress of operations. Besides, an articulated use of the GIS Bing Maps technology will drive the government operations and vision structure through an innovative process.

In summing up this paper, it is imperative to underscore the competition platform which has prevailed between Microsoft Corporation and Google on the other side. The stiff competition to command a higher market share in the provision of up to date mapping services has definitely led to the growth and advancement of GIS technology. Moreover, there has been a lot of innovation and better service provision in both by government and non-governmental organizations due to the ease with which large amounts of data can be evaluated and necessary responsive actions taken immediately.

Sample Bing Map Image

Sample Bing Map Image

Bibliography

Chaiken R et al.2009. SCOPE: Easy and Efficient Parallel Processing of Massive Data Sets ,MicrosoftCorporation.2010.{rchaiken,bobjen,palarson,brams,darrens,sweav er,jrzhou}.

Czernicki Bart. 2009. Next-Generation Business Intelligence Software with Silverlight 3, New York: Springer.

Get a map of your contacts’ location in Outlook. 2004. Inside the Internet, Web.

Jit Ghosh and Rob Cameron. 2009. Silverlight Recipes: A Problem Solution Approach New York: Springer.

Microsoft Corporation. 2010. Product Features. Web.

Microsoft Corporation. 2010. Frequently Asked Questions. Web.

Paula Berinstein. 2006. Location, Location, Location: Online Maps for the Masses. Searcher, Web.

Physorg. 2010. Physorg.net Bing gains US search market share for ninth straight month. Web. 

Ricadela Aaron. 2005. Microsoft and Google in race for online maps. InformationWeek, Web.

Scottie Barnes. 2005. Microsoft’s Virtual Earth. Geospatial Solutions, Web.