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Microsoft Streets & Trips water features - a brief history
Larry
In the last few weeks, the forum has shown a great interest in the water features (aka hydrology) found in Streets & Trips and various other mapping programs. For those interested here is the scoop on S&T's hydrology that will help answer many of the questions posed in other threads and also correct some faulty assumptions.

Back in the versions 2004 and earlier S&T used some NAVTEQ data but it wasn’t as good (or complete) as it is today. They primarily had map data for the metro areas. For all the rural areas, Microsoft used map data from a company called Geographic Data Technology (GDT - since acquired by Tele Atlas). The Microsoft data team had to stitch together both the NAVTEQ and GDT data to come up with a what was at the time some phenominal digital maps that rivaled what either NAVTEQ or GDT could provide alone. It was the best of both worlds.

Over the years, the NAVTEQ data improved to the point that it wasn’t worth all the extra effort and cost to license the GDT data and do the stitching of the map data so we started to use only NAVTEQ data in 2005 (or thereabouts). The only downside was GDT had superior hydrology than NAVTEQ. Consquently, we lost some rivers and streams at lower zoom levels when we migrated away including the GDT data.

Years ago, MS had a data team dedicated to Hydrology. They created some exceptional data of lakes and rivers. This MS hydrology data is still what you see in all our maps above 150 km in Streets, MapPoint and Bing maps. We do not use the NavTEQ hydrology data at zoom levels above 150 kms. However, once you zoom-in lower than 150 km the MS hydrology data is replaced by whatever NAVTEQ provides.
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tcassidy
Interesting Larry, but there is another side to this. From looking at Garmin MapSource (and Odyssey Navigator) it seems obvious the Navteq does provide some, if limited and only vaguely accurate, hydrology. Unfortunately, from the sample I tried, S&T does not display even this at higher zoom levels.

The example I tried was the Cowichan River in Duncan BC which shows clearly at any zoom level in Odyssey Navigator and MapSource ( and Mobile PC). I t does not display in S&T (any version I have including 2004) at any zoom level beyond the base map. I used this as it is one of the few rivers Navteq shows on Vancouver Island.

I know Navteq hydrology data is very poor and don't see a problem with not displaying it. However others feel that if the data is there why not show it.

Terry
Larry
Please define 'base map'?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tcassidy
I t does not display in S&T (any version I have including 2004) at any zoom level...
Unfortunately Cowichan river disappears at lower zoom levels but I can see it (and many other rivers) as I zoom out for several zoom levels.

note: used MapPoint 2010 for the screenshots (same data) because it allows me to turn off everything else.
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Ken in Regina
Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry
Please define 'base map'?
Hi Larry,

Refering back to your historical explanation above, that would be the map data you are using at the zoom levels of 100mi (which is 160km, by the way, not 250) and farther out.

By the way, thanks for taking the time to bring us that historical perspective. It was interesting.

With Garmin products there is a basemap installed in many of the handhelds and also in Mobile PC. This basemap contains data like shorelines, rivers, lakes, major roadways and interstates, cities and towns (as points, not street grids), railroads, etc. This basemap contains sufficient data to get you around.

The basemap is what you see when you are zoomed out significantly. As you zoom in tighter, if you have detail maps installed that's what you start to see. They are not overlayed on the basemap so when you hit the zoom level where the switch occurs, it's generally quite obvious that it has switched.

The first clue, of course, is that the scale icon has either the word "basemap" or "detail" below it. Another clue, if you don't have DEM data in your detail maps is when the DEM shading of the basemap disappears.

And, of course, as with Streets&Trips, some of the hydrology data disappears and never comes back, no matter how tight you zoom.

Fortunately, those of us who use Garmin products here in Canada have another choice. Garmin also sells a product called Metroguide Canada that uses data from a company called DMTI Spatial. Its geographical features and other small details are infinitely superior to Navteq's data.

...ken...
Marvin Hlavac
Larry, thanks very much for the explanation of the changes that occurred in Microsoft Streets and Trips starting in version 2005. I suspected a map data provider got dropped (because Navteq improved it's data quality and coverage at lot at that time), and I even tried to inquire about this, but I didn't get straight answers at that time. It's really good to know this background info.

So I guess now we just have to wait for Navteq to improve its hydrology data. Also, it's interesting that in some Navteq-based products some water ways may show up, even though Streets & Trips doesn't show them. Could this be just a difference between a newer and older Navteq data version?
tcassidy
I was very familiar with the change in data suppliers between 2004 and 2005 as Navteq data for outlying areas in BC was dismal at the time. However, at zoom levels below 100 miles, S&T has never shown most rivers and some lakes regardless of the supplier.

Terry
Ken in Regina
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin Hlavac
... Also, it's interesting that in some Navteq-based products some water ways may show up, even though Streets & Trips doesn't show them. Could this be just a difference between a newer and older Navteq data version?
I don't think so, Marvin. Most hydrology has been like it is for years and years. Decades, centuries, even millenia in some cases.

I've checked a few areas in southern Saskatchewan with City Navigator 2009 in Mobile PC and Streets&Trips 2010 and when you get to the detail level (pure Navteq data in both cases, apparently), Streets&Trips and Mobile PC are identical.

S&T is really good when you are out at the basemap level. As with the Garmin basemap, you can tell S&T basemap data is not Navteq. Shorelines are really accurate rather than just a bunch of jaggedy straight lines to approximate them.

S&T hydrology on the basemap is actually a little more accurate than Garmin's. Both show pretty much the same features and with accurate outlines. But S&T shows large shallow lakes that have hugely variable margins correctly. That is, Garmin does not distinguish them at all. It shows all lakes as solid blue. S&T shows variable lakes bodies as sort of a dotted blue like on topo maps.

For an example, search for "Old Wives Lake" in S&T and "Old Wives, SK" in Mobile PC. You will have to be zoomed out to the basemap for both because it's a feature that disappears on the detail maps.

In doing that search, you get a quick understanding of why S&T is so much better for that sort of thing than Mobile PC. (Hint, in Mobile PC you'll need to click the "Near" button at the bottom of the search page, click the "Spell City" button, type "Old Wives" in the "Near" field, then back on the search page you'll need to type "Old Wives" again. That will give you the selection of "Old Wives, SK". If you try to search for Old Wives Lake, like you can in S&T, Mobile PC won't find anything.

It's interesting to note that the basemaps in both Streets&Trips and Mobile PC are far superior to either iGuidance or Odyssey Navigator. After you look at the hydrology in the Old Wives Lake area on S&T and Mobile PC, take a look at that same area in the other two and see just how sparse their geology of any kind is, at any zoom level. Pretty sad.

Hmmm... It seems only fair to give equal time, good or bad, to Street Atlas in this discussion.

It's the best of the bunch. It has the same accuracy for the hydrology as Streets&Trips and Mobile PC on their basemaps. But it remains no matter how tight you zoom. It's hydrology is actually more accurate than either of the other two basemaps or the Navteq details.

Street Atlas shows Gleniffer Lake on the Red Deer River in Alberta, about an hour north of Calgary. None of the other nav products show it. Navteq doesn't even show the Red Deer River on its detail maps. Score a big one for DeLorme!!

...ken...
Marvin Hlavac
Quote:
I don't think so, Marvin. Most hydrology has been like it is for years and years. Decades, centuries, even millenia in some cases.
Yes, but I wonder if Navteq has (finally) started to add some of them to it's database recently.
Ken in Regina
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin Hlavac
Yes, but I wonder if Navteq has (finally) started to add some of them to it's database recently.
Not that I've noticed. That doesn't mean they haven't, I suppose. But in any of the areas of Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia that I'm interested in, the hydrology detail has not changed since at least Garmin's City Select North America v5 (Navigation Technologies Corp 2002). It might not have changed in even longer than that, but that was my first Garmin/Navteq map.

...ken...
Marvin Hlavac
OK Ken, but there must be some explanation for why Terry can see Cowichan River in Duncan BC in two other Navteq-only products, even though the river is not present in Streets and Trips (when you zoom in close). Was this river in older versions of Garmin's Navteq-only maps?
tcassidy
I have NACN 4 and CSNA 6. The first accidentally left that area off the map altogether. City Select 6 shows no rivers in that area at any zoom level.

I also have CNNA NT ranging from v8 to 2010.2. The first time the river shows up is 2009 when Navteq started adding a lot of detail in the outlying areas. I think S&T data is at least that new because it had local data for my area in the 2009 version (it didn't in 2008).

Terry
Marvin Hlavac
Hmm, let's see if that river appears in Streets & Trips 2011.

It would be interesting to find out from Navteq if they have been doing some work on adding waterway to their database. Or at least if they have immediate plans on doing so. As Ken said, this is not something that changes too often so perhaps it wouldn't requite too much of an investment.
tcassidy
OK marvin, I'm coming around to your way of thinking. I checked a couple of locations on the Fraser and Columbia rivers and they zoom in just the same in S&T 2010 as Mapsource 2010.2. It looks like the Cowichan is just a Navteq anomaly!

Terry
Ken in Regina
You're right. I guess I better slow down here. Doing too many things too fast and missing details.

I went back and checked and the Cowichan River is NOT there in Garmin's City Navigator North America 2009.

It shows up first in City Navigator North America 2009NT.

No, that's not a typo ... two different map products.

CNNA 2009 is listed as version 10.00 and 2007 NAVTEQ.
CNNA 2009NT is listed as version 11.10 and 2008 NAVTEQ.
CNNA 2010.1NT is listed as version 13.10 and 2008 NAVTEQ.

So it looks like Navteq is indeed slowly adding bits and pieces of hydrology to their maps.

Cowichan River shows in Odyssey Navigator. It lists the map data as "NAVTEQ2008Q2".

Cowichan River does not show in iGuidance 2009 (Build 4.1) and the map data is 2008 NAVTEQ, so it must be from Navteq's Q1 release.

It's not going to be so easy to figure out Streets&Trips. The map copyright data is a mess:

"Certain map and direction data 2009 NAVTEQ"
"2009 Tele Atlas North America, Inc."
"2009 by Applied Geographic Systems"

Based on Larry's explanation, I think we can safely assume the AGS data is part of Microsoft's equivalent of a "basemap". But based on copyrights from Navteq and Tele Atlas, it's not so easy to figure out whether the hydrology details at the tighter zoom levels are from Navteq or Tele Atlas. And I don't have anything with Tele Atlas detail maps to check.

Based on the 2009 NAVTEQ copyright, you would expect it to be there since it's in the other products with data that Navteq released in 2008. Strange.

It's nice having all these maps and nav programs but it's easy for an old guy like me to get himself completely confused what shows up in which. Sorry about that.

Time to go make a pot of tea and watch some TV or something.....

...ken...
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