Bing is a search service from Microsoft, which includes the 'Bing Maps' platform (previously 'Microsoft Virtual Earth'). The platform includes map tiles, map embedding APIs, routing, and so on. It makes use of proprietary datasets, often licensed from third party geodata providers, and its use is therefore bound by copyright restrictions… however:
Bing Maps are investigating working with OpenStreetMap in various ways:
Bing Aerial Imagery
In November 2010 it was announced (, ) that Bing has granted the right to trace from their aerial imagery for the purpose of contributing content to OpenStreetMap. Please note the only legal use of Bing maps is to use the aerial imagery layer as background to do your own OSM drawing (also known as "tracing"). It is not legal to use any other information from Bing maps (like street names, street view etc).
- For more information see Bing license.pdf.
How to use in the editors
- Potlatch 2 - Select 'Bing' in the 'Background' drop-down (top-left).
- JOSM - In the 'Imagery' menu, select 'Bing' (v3715 and later).
- Merkaartor - Create a new layer via the menu Create → Add new Image layer, and then change the image layer's source to Bing via the menu Layer → Map → Plugins → Bing (v0.17 and later).
Note: Bing Imagery is not available in Potlatch 1, and probably won't ever be.
Coverage and age
The coverage of high-resolution imagery can be assessed using this tool. You have to zoom in to zoom level 14 or more to discover high resolution tiles, which will then result in green and red tiles indicating availability of imagery being rendered in all zoom levels. See discussion.
- See also Bing/Coverage to find out and help document areas of available coverage.
Be aware that at lower zooms, Bing's imagery may be misaligned. I.e., alignment is not consistent across zooms; at one zoom, you'll be aligned, but another, you'll be misaligned. This is different than other image sources, including Yahoo, which if misaligned tend to be consistently misaligned irrespective the zoom you're using. This is true of various places worldwide.
Areas with height differences (mountains, hills, bridges) seem more prone to this, which suggests that imagery was not always taken at a precise 90 degree angle. As a result, objects at the same height (ground level in a flat area) may be quite precise while objects which are higher (embankments, bridges, buildings) or lower (cuttings) may be slightly off.
Use GPS tracks, other OSM data you know is aligned, or other aligned imagery (if available) to align the imagery in a local area.
- See Talk:Bing for more ground tests.
- See Topic "Bing maps is misplaced" in the OSM-talk mail list; initial posting item link from 7 December 2010, or the entire thread from Gmane's OSM-talk archive.
- True Offset Process - ideas for for building a database of correction offsets
- Use tools such as Quadmap Compare or BBBike Map Compare to visialise side-by-side several maps and detect offset errors (use it as a error detection tool, not for correction).
2012 censorship of military areas in Germany
In the end of January 2012, Bing blurred many military bases in Germany after being asked by the German government to do so. The polygons of these areas were given to Microsoft by the German government. It is suspected that these polygons could have been exported from OpenStreetMap, since several blurred areas are perfectly matched to landuse=military polygon.
- The details are collected on Bing/2012 Germany Military Blurring
Other OpenStreetMap Bingnitiatives
Road detect API
Bing announced access to an experimental service which can automatically derive street vector data from Bing aerial imagery. Given a start and end point, the service will attempt perform image processing to recognise the position of a road, and return vector data for it.
See Bing road detect API for more details.
OpenStreetMap via the Bing Maps APIs
They have added an OpenStreetMap layer to their platform. This can be viewed on http://www.bing.com/maps/explore/#5003/s=w/5872/style=Mapnik&pid=50735 (requires Microsoft Silverlight 3 - Moonlight 2 (latest stable release as of Dec 2010) will not work) and is available in the "map apps" area.
See also "Microsoft launch an OpenStreetMap Mapnik layer on Bing Maps" Announced Aug 2nd 2010
FrontDoor addressing project
Bing's frontdoor.cloudapp.net connects street addresses with their associated buildings. You can help out by moving a pointer on an aerial photo to the front door of the building. The address data will be used in Bing and donated to OSM, though there are no details on how this will happen (or currently is happening) TODO: please update if details are published.
This is a micro task presented to the user repeatedly. It's simple and perhaps a little addictive, like a game. It does not require a login, and may work on some smartphones. Tools for casual contribution have great potential for reaching out to new people who are put off by the complexity of OSM editing.