Microsoft's Bing Maps ties into the open source OpenStreetMap community

Microsoft's Bing Maps unveiled a host of new features and functions this week, including the public beta of a revamped user experience with new visuals and dynamic map labels, and a handful of new Bing Map Apps submitted for the King of the Maps competition. One of the newest apps now ties Bing Maps into the OpenStreetMap community, the online map comprised entirely of free and open geographic data, edited by users in the fashion of Wikipedia.

Bing Maps with OpenStreetMap layer

"We've taken the OSM data as is, created tiles to fit our tile schema and are hosting it on our Windows Azure [Content Delivery Network]," Chris Pendleton said in the Bing Maps community blog. "This means, pure OSM data coming down at screaming fast speeds from the massive Windows Azure infrastructure built out to support globally distributed applications…like Bing Maps."

Bing Maps started using Windows Azure CDN in 2009 to deliver its image tiles, which amount to more than 2 petabytes of (256 x 256) aerial photographs. The tiles are cached across the Content Delivery Network so when a customer requests a map, the nearest Content Delivery Network node can compile the tiles and send them back quicker for rendering.

The new OpenStreetMap layer can be found in Bing's Maps App Gallery, once loaded into your Bing Maps, it can then be selected in the "Map Types" menu.

According to OSM's most recent data, it has 283,810 active users, who have uploaded 1,848,893,082 GPS points to the map.

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