Comparison of top Free Online Map Sites (part 3)

 Click Here to go to the start of this article or 

Click Here to go back to part 2

This is part 3 of the feature – Comparison of Free Online Map Sites ‘Bing Maps vs Google Maps’ that takes a closer look at Google & Microsoft’s web mapping services.

Major Differences/Pros and Cons

User Experience

Vancouver - Bing Slide ViewBing Maps tends to offer more automated features than Google Maps does and it automatically changes style and details as the user zooms in and out. As you scroll around the map, the bar at the left dynamically updates things such as weather, pictures, and Photosynths for the current area. Google Maps is more basic in form, sticking to its trademark look, offers fewer features and uses JavaScript making it often more choppy zooming in and out.

Location Search Accuracy

Both have done a great job utilizing spatial database data to provide a better accurate search, although sometimes you may find one does a better job over the other in different areas (with no real reasoning of why). Also the more information you have to provide (e.g. adding postal code) in your search then obviously the better your results will be.

Both map services offer driving directions that can be easily achieved by stating a start and end point. Driving directions that I have tested with both services were usually pretty accurate with estimated travel times based on mode of transportation provided by both has been pretty good as well.

Satellite Image Resolution

Imagery data sets for both services vary from place to place but overall it seems that Bing Maps uses newer and better quality satellite images than Google Maps does. Bing Maps images are generally about a year old (about 215 terabytes of high-resolution imagery to Bing Maps was recently added by Microsoft), where Google Maps images have an average of about 2 to 3 years old. With Bing Maps, you can also zoom in closer than with Google Maps (if the data exists).

Bird’s-eye View of Bing Maps offers a 3D view of buildings in major cities (mostly in the USA) and many places that are not highly (like most parts ofCanada) populated will not have any higher resolution imagery and only basic larger scale Landsat data will be provided. Sometimes Google imagery does not flow well together, mixing dark and light data sets and some with clouds and other obstructions (usually a pet peeve for anyone who works in Remote Sensing) . However both vendors provide better imagery as they obtain it so aerial imagery in various areas is constantly changing.

In a bid to keep up with its arch mapping rival, Microsoft is taking on Google Maps in the high-resolution space with a 215 terabyte update of Bird’s Eye imagery.

Microsoft has piled on another 215 terabytes of high-resolution imagery to Bing Maps, less than a month after it dished out a massive 165 terabyte cache of mapping data to the service. [source: news.cnet.com ]

          Bing Slide View CoverageGoogle Street View Coverage

Streetside View vs. Streetview

Both Bing Maps and Google Maps have street-level views, where there is a panoramic view taken from the top of a car and stitched together so it looks like you were standing there. Bing’s “Streetside view” shots are clearer, with higher resolutions and more features (such as Flicker and Photosynth) integrated into the viewing experience. Bing’s Worldwide telescope integration is a feature that allows viewers to look up to view the night-time sky above them. Google’s streetview also has a “user images” feature that offers more photos than Bing does, but they are presented as a slide shoe, instead of being layered as they are with Bing. Google’s Streetview is worthy of an honorable mention because of the numbers of areas around the world that it has captured.

Ottawa - Ontario - Google Maps

 Summary

Both Bing Maps and Google Maps offer effective web mapping platforms with very similar yet unique features . Bing tends to have better features and tools integrated into it, and can operate smoother than Google Maps but their coverage of data in Canada is relatively pretty weak.

Both have great features to offer but neither one seems to really fully out shine the other over all, witch in a way can be a good thing as these two web giants continue to go head to head providing us with more free web mapping tools to make our every day lives better.

I myself tend to use Google Maps more perhaps out of habit from being a big Google Earth user, but can honestly admit I do go back and forth between the two mapping applications  depending on what I am using them for. ArcGIS now offers Bing products as free base maps for ArcMap layouts so that certainly has increased my Bing maps usage.

For example, I find that Bing does a better job of providing names of streets and rivers and the Bird’s Eye imagery always provides more than one view of an object (although not available for many places in Canada). And a lot depends on the imagery of data that is available in the area I am working with, so I tend to sometimes check both to see which one is better.

And actually someone has come up with a web application that provides both mapping applications in the same window for times when you want to compare (http://www.jonasson.org/maps/). So go ahead and check out these two popular free web mapping applications and then leave some comments about witch one you prefer over the other.

Maps - Bing Maps vs Google Maps

References

Microsoft – http://onlinehelp.microsoft.com/en-us/bing/ff808582.aspx

Google – http://support.google.com/maps/?hl=en

Wikipedia. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Maps & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bing_Maps

 

 

 

Comparison of top Free Online Map Sites (part 2)

 Click Here to go back to the start of this article

This is part 2 of the feature – Comparison of Free Online Map Sites ‘Bing Maps vs Google Maps’ that takes a closer look at Google & Microsoft’s web mapping services.

Bing Maps – maps.bing.ca

Ottawa - Ontario - Google Street View 1

Bing Maps is Microsoft’s web mapping service provided as a part of their Bing suite of search engines and powered by the Bing Maps for Enterprise framework. Originally called Microsoft Virtual Earth, the first version was released in 2005.

In 2010 a fully overhauled design for the default view was launched as well as adding dynamic labels. Bing optimizes the power of the Silverlight engine combined withAJAXto serve the map data into your browser application.

It offers street maps, featuring road view, aerial view, bird’s-eye view, streetside view (with geo-tagged photos from Flickr and Photosynth integration), and 3D view (as an add-on), driving directions, and several different map apps.

The Bird’s Eye imagery feature provides end-users with high-resolution, oblique look angle imagery in four different look-directions providing a different visual context appealing to many spatial tasks. This neat feature allows you to look at an object from one angle and then spin your screen around and see the same object from a different perspective.

Ottawa - Ontario - Bing Birds Eye View 2Ottawa - Ontario - Bing Birds Eye View 1

Bing Maps provides traffic information and ClearFlow traffic data, as well as allowing users to share maps and embed them into their websites. Other features include people, location, and business search functions, and satellite imagery (“Bing Maps,” 2011; Pike, 2010).

Table 1

Top Features of Bing Maps and Google Maps

Bing Maps

Google Maps

Road, Satellite, Bird’s-eye views

Road, Satellite, Terrain views

Streetside view, with Flickr and Photosynth picture overlays

Streetview

3D models ofU.S.cities

Panorama Integration

Driving Directions and Traffic Information

Mobile Map apps

Bird’s Eye imagery

Driving Directions and Traffic Information

 

Washington Bing Street View 1Washington Google Street View 1

 

Major Differences/Pros and Cons

User Experience

Bing Maps tends to offer more automated features than Google Maps does and it automatically changes style and details as the user zooms in and out. As you scroll around the map, the bar at the left dynamically updates things such as weather, pictures, and Photosynths for the current area. Google Maps is more basic in form, sticking to its trademark look, offers fewer features and uses JavaScript making it often more choppy zooming in and out.

 Click Here to continue reading … or Click Here to go back to the start of this article

 

British Columbia Court Services Locator Map

British Columbia Court Services Locator

British Columbia Court Services Locator

DataBC and the British Columbia Ministry of Justice have joined forces to provide an online mapping application to help the people of British Columbia be able to spatially locate where the various court facilities in British Columbia are located.

The interactive mapping tool based on the Google Maps platform uses data from uses data from DataBC and Ministry of Justice (Court Services Branch) to provide people with a new way of accessing location information for courts in British Columbia.Thier interactive mapping tool offers various search abilities and provides the locations of British Columbia courts in the map window that when clicked, prodding basic information and links to the respective web pages for that facility with more adequate information.

Although this online map may be relatively pretty basic it still does a good job of providing people with the ability to interactive spatially, appreciate the vast geography of British Columbia and find information about things to see & do that they may have not discovered before.

Click here for more information about the The DataBC program or check out this online map or any of the other online maps that are being generated by the DataBC program.

.

Free Data Sets for the City of Toronto

The City of Toronto has recently celebrated two years of online Open Data service and they have full intention on continuing to build on that success, by stating that they intend to add more data layers and will further develop their site.

Data sets are provided in various standard downloadable file formats such as XLS, CSV, DGN & SHP. All data set contains basic meta info associated with them such as who created the data, date, format, projection, attributes, contact info etc. The bottom line here is the City of Toronto has granted the GIS community a royalty free, non exclusive licence to use, modify, and distribute any of their data sets that they continue to make available via their data catalogue.

Free Data Sets for the City of Edmonton & ESRI online mapping tools

City of Edmonton ESRI online mapping tools

The City of Edmonton has been providing an online Open Data service to help make municipal information more accessible since 2009 [http://data.edmonton.ca]. They feel that through collaboration and innovation that they have become a leader in Open Government by using the latest technology to increase access to their information.

Much like the City of Toronto they have various data sets that they do not offer due to privacy or confidentiality issues. In fact you will notice many similarities between the Open Source service offered by the City of Edmonton and the Cities of Toronto, Ottawa,and Vancouver because these cities have come together to share resources and methodologies that they use to provide the service to better provide Canadians with good reliable sources of spatial data sets.

Data sets are provided in various standard downloadable file formats such as XLS, CSV, PDF, DGN & SHP. All data set contains basic meta info associated with them such as who created the data, date, format, projection, attributes, contact info etc. They do not require Developers to get permission to create applications with the data, instead permission is provided for all data sets as long as users abide by the terms of agreement for the service.

One difference that you Edmonton has from the other cities is that they provide the ability to visualize the data sets unsing online ESRI web mapping technology. This way allows users to better unserdtand what the data sets they are downloading consists of. There is also another neat little feature using the same ESRI tools that allows users to embed maps that they generate on their own web site or blog.

Below is a map of the golf courses in the City of Edmonton created on the city web site and then embeded here on this site with the provided code snip-it that they provided.

The City of Edmonton has done an amazing job of providing interesting data sets in one online location where they can grant the GIS community royalty free, non exclusive licence to use, modify, and distribute any of the data sets that they continue to make available via their data catalogue. They have also provided a great looking easy to use web mapping tool based on ESRI software so that users can save time by viewing the data before downloading it into their own GIS software and people can use to embed maps into their personal blogs.

I encourage you to go forth, download some of the data and start generating great GIS products for the citizens of Edmonton and help promote Canadian Open Data Sets .

 

Canadian initiatives for Open Data Resources

Canada open data

Canadian Open Data 

The City of Toronto has recently celebrated two years of online Open Data service and they continue to build on that success, by stating that they intend to add more data layers and further develop their online data portal. So with that in mind I thought I would take a closer look at how Open Data Frameworks are currently doing here in Canada.

The concept behind Open data is that data should be available to anyone to use freely without restrictions or copyright. It is similar to other “Open” movements such as open source software, and open access, and has gained popularity with the launch of open data site by the United States Government [Data.gov] in 2009.

There has been a big movement towards Open Data Frameworks in Canada and the Cities of Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver have come together to share resources and methodologies in order to provide Canadians with good reliable sources of spatial data sets. By offering data sets for general use, these Canadian Cities are demonstrating that they support unfiltered access to information in order to improve access to information and so that more quality mapping related applications / products can be created and shared providing higher potential cartographic products for all Canadians to benefit from.

Unlike the United States or some parts of Europe Canada has no country wide mandate establishing procedures or protocols on how spatial data is delivered online to Canadians. More and more cities and municipalities are getting involved with providing Open Data however GIS users still need to do some searching to find the various sites.

Once again this is one of the reasons why I started a Canadian data section on the site, to help aid fellow GIS users with online data searches. So I encourage you to share these pages and resources with your networks to help spread the word throughout the Canadian GIS community. And if you know of any site(s) that offer downloadable data sets that are not posted on my site then please let me know, so that I can ensure that they get shared with others.

City of Edmonton Data Sets
City of Ottawa Data Sets
City of Toronto Data Sets
City of Vancouver Data Sets
City of Niagara Falls Data Sets

Province of New Brunswick Data

Federal Government Canadian Wide Data

plus we will be listing others as they are discovered on our Canadian open data page

.

Canadian Maps

A major part of any GIS are Canadian Maps produced that help illustrate and provide visible spatial information, the Canadian GIS & Geomatics site has been providing people with map resources since 2005, and continues to list great resources. To find some awesome Canadian maps, check some of the links below, browse through our data and Canadian map listings, use the search tools found along the right hand side or follow us on Twitter (we post images and links to a wide variety of maps daily).

Canadian Maps

Canadian Maps & many more GIS Resources

UTM zones & rows map – With this world map you can easily find out what UTM zone you are working from.

Geomatics & Cartography – great basic overview of Cartography with examples and plenty of resources.

Various Canadian maps resources

Old Canadian Maps from various Provinces

Web mapping applications featuring Canadian maps

Do you have any great Canadian maps that you would like us to share? Then let us know!

.

Things to See & Do in British Columbia

Screen Grab - Things to Do and See in (BC) British Columbia

BCParks Online Mapping Application

BCParks has created a simple online mapping application with data from the DataBC program to help people in British Columbia find things see and do in British Columbia by identifying the various locations of the Province’s Parks, Protected Areas, Recreation Areas and Ecological Reserves.

Map - Things to Do and See in BC (British Columbia)

The online interactive mapping tool based on the Google Maps platform offers various searching abilities and provides users with some control over the features and map layers that are displayed in the mapping window.

Points of interest in the map window feature places like Provincial Parks that are also interactive when clicked, providing basic information, photos and links to the respective web pages for that feature that can provide more adequate information.

Although this online map may be relatively pretty basic it still does a good job of providing people with the ability to interactive spatially, appreciate the vast geography of British Columbia and find information about things to see & do that they may have not discovered before.

Click here for more information about the The DataBC program.

Trimble GPS Planning Software

The planning software allows you to optimize your base destination region with multiple station locations allowing you to determine where it would be best to record observations, determine elevation masks, generate graphs showing satellite coverage, DOP coverage, and create sky plots of GPS satellites.

Map Maker for Canada

Google Map Maker Canada

Explore Map Maker for Canada

Leave your mark on the map, share your local knowledge about Canadian places with other Canadians.

Google has launched a product that they call Map Maker for Canada that provides users with the ability to add and update geographic information for millions of others to see in Google Maps. People can add businesses, create building outlines, move other peoples place markers to the correct locations. So why not help out the cause by adding places of interest, your school, campus or add your business location.

Check the Map Maker User Guide for help to get started or just be like most other GIS professionals and give Google Map Maker a try and learn as you go.  Google.ca/mapmaker

Share your feedback and comments on this neat little Google Maps feature.