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The Global Ortho Project: Microsoft’s Mapping Project

Microsoft spearheaded an ambitious mapping project, covering the entire continential United States and Western Europe, at a spatial resolution of 30 centimeters. The project was completed in August 2012.

CompassData’s Control Freaks collected Ground Control for the Global Ortho (GO) project.

To improve its Virtual Earth product, Microsoft has established a photogrammetry business unit in 2006, making and selling the UltraCam line of cameras while using them to collect map data. This has also led to Bing Maps and other businesses providing map data to companies in retail and other industries.

When Microsoft launched the GO project in 2010, it was the single largest imagery project ever undertaken. In less than two years, about 10.5 million km worth of data were collected at a spatial resolution of 30 centimeters, significantly better than that of commercial imaging satellites.

According to GIM International Magazine, Microsoft has announced that it will eventually acquire imagery for the entire planet for the GO project.

  • Consumers will get access through continual improvements to the Bing Maps website
  • Government and business users of enterprise mapping applications will use the Bing platform
  • Government and business users can purchase imagery from DigitalGlobe for off-line usage

After the Global Ortho Project, the next biggest mapping project in the world is the National Agriculture Imagery Program – NAIP. CompassData provides GCPs for NAIP.