Bing traffic cameras
There are traffic cameras in many cities around the world and they constantly monitor the flow of cars, buses and other vehicles on the road. They are used to monitor the state of the traffic and watch for problems like accidents and breakdowns, which can quickly cause long traffic jams to build up.
Bing Maps can access some of these traffic cameras and this means that you can see whether the roads are clear or blocked before you set off on your journey.
It is a great feature and the only problem is that there just aren’t enough cameras. Over time, the number that are accessible from within Bing Maps s should increase, but at the moment it depends on where you live and drive. If you are lucky, you will find a few on your regular driving routes through the city.
Open a browser and go to bing.com. Click Maps and then enter a location. Zoom right in until you can see the street names and then click the Traffic icon in the toolbar. You might be fortunate and see a camera or two. The icon is dark grey and looks like a video camera, but it is small and easily missed. Toggle the Traffic icon on and off and you’ll see the cameras blink on and off.
Click a camera and a recent image is shown in the panel on the left. The image does not appear to change very often and it is not live, but it is recent and therefore still useful.
Click the back button in the traffic panel and your recently viewed cameras are displayed as thumbnails. This makes them easy to revisit.
Switch to streetside view
Keep zooming in to a map (the easiest way is to spin the mouse wheel), and eventually some of the roads turn blue. Click a blue road and the map is replaced by a 360 degree panoramic photograph. This is streetside view.
Click and hold the mouse button, then drag the mouse left and right to turn around on the spot and look in every direction. You can look up and down too.
A really nice feature is that you can click and hold on the arrow pointing down the street and there is a smooth transition to the next photo a few yards along. Keep holding down the mouse button and it is like driving down the road.
It is not quite a video view, but it is close. It is a clever trick that not only looks impressive, it is useful too. You can navigate your route in Streetside view just as if you were driving your car.
Bing Maps is continuing to improve and it is looking good, but is it enough to make you switch from Google Maps? It is very tempting and it certainly deserves to be watched for further tweaks and upgrades.