New to REST Services: Elevations API

We are happy to announce the release of Elevations API as the latest addition to the Bing Maps REST Services offerings. The Elevations API will enable you to query for elevation information for a set of points, polyline or a region on the Earth described by latitude and longitude pairs.

Here are some example use cases for this API. Let’s say you have a sports GPS tracking device that tracks your distance, speed and elevation while you are on a hike. In this scenario, the Elevations API can be used to provide you with elevation information at specific points during the hike. In another scenario, you can visualize the elevation profile along a pre-determined route. And, of course, if you want to get fancy with 3D, you now have the opportunity to develop 3D elevation models for an area on the Earth.

Currently elevation information is available with the following resolutions: Global Coverage (including poles): 900m resolution (Globe), Global Coverage (56⁰S to 60⁰N):90m resolution (SRTM).US coverage: 10m resolution (NED).

One of the interesting features of this API is the ability to provide elevation data for a region on the Earth or bounding box. With this feature, you can fine-tune the number of elevation points you get back for the bounding box. To give you even more flexibility for your scenarios, the elevation values can be calculated using two different Earth models — the ellipsoid model and the geoid sea level model. The ellipsoid model uses the World Geodetic System (WGS84) which is an ellipsoidal approximation of the Earth. The geoid sea level model uses the Earth Gravitational Model 2008 (EGM2008 2.5′) and computes a sea level based on the local value of gravity. The ellipsoid model is equivalent to GPS and the geoid sea level model is equivalent to what is commonly known as the height above sea level.

The detailed documentation for this service can be found here.

John O’Brien, director of Soul Solutions, is a Bing Maps MVP and was part of the first look into the new service. It was really cool to see John explore and provide an early preview into the applicable use of our elevation service API which also provided new solutions for his clients. Below are just two examples of how the elevation API is helping John address the needs of his clients.

Firstly, a simple example where you can drag two pins around the map and see the profile of the terrain between them

Elevation 1

The second, using the existing direction module to plot a course by car then visualize the elevation change.

Elevation 2

The V7 AJAX module John built provides an option for developers to add this functionality with a few lines of code. You can download the module plus the example code for the images here.

-The Bing Maps Team

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