Weather.com added Bing Maps as its default mapping platform back when it was Microsoft Virtual Earth (and back when I was writing the Virtual Earth and MapPoint B2B blog!); however, they’ve continued to innovate and just recently added the ability to view “Futures” on the map. Futures are essentially a predictive model overlain and animated over the top of the Bing Map embedded into the web site. I added a screen shot; however, for best viewing you’ll want to go to the Weather.com web site and check it out.
The way this is done, since they are using a Flash interface, is to create a transparent tile overlay with the predictive weather data models drawn as ~20 different overlays. They’ll load the overlays as individual layers, then turn one off and turn the next one on – very much how animating a cartoon is done. So, layer one has a picture of the predictive weather model over a specific region; layer two has it a few miles from that as time would move the storms. So, they’ll turn off layer 1, then turn on layer 2, etc. They’ll do this for all of the respective zoom layers in Bing Maps so you can see the data at many levels of fidelity.
I also noticed they have past data in the case that you wanted to see historical weather data which effectively does the same thing; but the time stamp is different. Additionally, I noticed a potential money maker for Weather.com. They’ve placed a radio button atop their maps for Hampton Inns. If you click the radio button, all the Hampton Inn hotels will appear on the map. I’m not totally sure that they’re making money off of that, but there is a click through to a reservation system, so perhaps they get some sort of booking fee if you book a hotel via Weather.com.
Nice idea – see where the weather is what you want it to be and book a hotel via Hampton Inn (Hilton). People are always asking me how to at least cover their costs on mapping (or even make money); it’s partnerships like this that will help drive revenue back into the cost center. They don’t necessarily scale well in terms of setting up relationships with different partners, etc, so maybe we’ll work on something to fix that. I’m just saying…it would be cool.
CP – Follow me on Twitter @ChrisPendleton