Texas, Ohio, city of Miami and New York City among entities using Microsoft Virtual Earth to develop geospatial applications for citizens.
Texas has used the Virtual Earth platform to develop a range of traffic and citizen information services statewide in addition to developing Virtual Earth-powered portals for cities including Houston, El Paso and San Antonio.
For the first of many planned citizen-facing portals, Texas recently launched the El Paso Intelligent Transportation System, TransVista. TransVista allows residents to see live traffic camera views, roadway communication signs, and traffic incident data in 2-D and 3-D views with nothing more than an Internet browser. Users can toggle between traffic hazards and incident data that comes directly from the El Paso Police Department as well as control information displayed through an integrated, easy-to-use panel on the left side of the screen.
Just weeks after El Paso launched its Virtual Earth application for visualizing travel conditions in its region, the Houston TranStar consortium -- a partnership between the Texas Department of Transportation, Harris County, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County and the City of Houston -- launched its Houston TranStar Traffic Map. The TranStar site allows travelers to check on traffic flow, incidents and lane closures, and it provides traffic-camera views and the ability to inspect road-sign messages. All this data is layered on the Virtual Earth platform, along with appealing maps and rich aerial imagery provided through an easy-to-use Web service. As with all Virtual Earth-based applications, users need only an Internet-enabled computer with a browser to access the information and do not need to install a desktop application. Both Texas sites are Virtual Earth 3D-enabled, which includes comprehensive 3-D city models.
The Ohio site Buckeye Traffic provides travelers with similar up-to-date information on road conditions, traffic, construction and other activities affecting roadways managed by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). Information is updated through sources such as pavement sensors, monitoring stations and traffic cameras, and through direct input by ODOT personnel.
"States and localities are realizing the broad and affordable benefit that comes from using the Virtual Earth platform to display the current traffic and weather information that individuals and families need to make work, school and travel decisions every day," said Gail Thomas-Flynn, general manager of State and Local Government at Microsoft. "Texas and Ohio are leading the way in extending their transportation guidance mission with the help of Virtual Earth."
Largest Transit Authority Chooses Virtual Earth
Earlier this year, MTA New York City Transit (NYCTA), which has a combined bus and subway ridership of 7.5 million daily riders, announced that it released a version of its Trip Planner online travel itinerary service featuring Virtual Earth maps. The service, which allows visitors and residents to get walking directions for their travel itinerary within the city, provides a rich 2-D and 3-D visualization experience. On the site, New York residents and visitors can plan routes and set preferences such as what time to leave or the desired time of arrival, desired distance, and available subway, bus or express bus alternatives along the route. In April, the site received 8,359 unique visitors on an average weekday and 6,691 on an average weekend day. Those figures are up 208 percent and 235 percent respectively over the same month last year.
"By offering this online service, we've been able to provide more travel information to more customers," said Fred Benjamin, assistant vice president for Customer Service, NYCTA. "Trip Planner has improved our ability to provide accurate and vital travel information by expanding our operation to a cyberplatform."
Beyond Transportation, Governments Build Connections With Integrated Mapping
In addition to providing the necessary traffic advisory services that come from current data layered on the Virtual Earth platform, governments from Miami to Seattle are offering enhanced solutions that connect public servants and citizens alike to regional data at their fingertips. The city of Miami chose Virtual Earth mapping software to develop online applications that provide enhanced public safety response, urban planning and tourism services. The new software helps fire personnel to respond more quickly to emergencies, urban planners to study the impact of new construction, and the public to better take advantage of city services. The site takes advantage of Microsoft's photorealistic, geo-specific and highly accurate Miami city 3-D model to provide first responders with unobstructed views of emergency sites before they arrive on the scene, and citizens and visitors with the ability to explore the city virtually before leaving their home or hotel room.
In the Puget Sound region of Washington state, the eCityGov Alliance, a regional inter-local agency that provides online access to services such as permitting, public building information and recreation resources, used Microsoft Virtual Earth to build an application that allows users to search, locate and visualize regional parks and recreational resources. With Virtual Earth, eCityGov delivered a rich user experience, reduced the staff time and cost of implementation, and freed limited technology resources to focus on higher-value tasks.
About Virtual Earth
The Virtual Earth platform is Microsoft's next-generation integrated set of powerful online mapping and search services that offer a variety of capabilities, including unique bird's-eye view, three-dimensional imagery, and aerial and satellite imagery. The Virtual Earth platform also powers a variety of consumer, enterprise and government applications that enable people to discover and explore a specific location. Virtual Earth powers Live Search Maps, Microsoft's online local search and mapping Web site.
More information about the Virtual Earth platform in government is available at www.microsoft.com/industry/government/solutions/virtual_earth/overview.mspx.
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