Bing Maps has been steadily gaining ground with economic development agencies looking to add visualization of GIS data to web sites aimed to spur regional growth and investment. The latest adoption of Bing Maps for this type of application is up north. With the launch of its SelectOntario web site, Ontario is now the first province in Canada to implement a state-of-the-art geographic information system (GIS) tool for the purposes of investment attraction, and they are using my favorite mapping platform (is there another?!), Bing Maps.

Developed by Microsoft partner Orion Technology and ESRI Canada, SelectOntario was launched February 4th by the Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Sandra Pupatello. The app is a flexible and dynamic search tool that showcases investment properties, infrastructure and location advantages and workforce skills for site selectors to help make investment decision-making faster and easier. In addition to Bing Maps, the site leverages Orion’s OnPoint .NET solution acting as the configuration middleware and ESRI ArcGIS Server 9.3.1.

Orion, along with ESRI, did a great job in developing this application. It is full of features and functionality and more importantly, allows for visualization of an extensive amount of GIS data. SelectOntario allows you to conduct searches under general categories: site search, community search, industry sector search, and skills search. Within each category, you are presented with a form to allow you to set your criteria. I chose to execute a site search, specifying industrial/commercial properties for lease with office space, and within a 50 mile drive from an airport, anywhere in Ontario. There are a lot of other parameters I could have specified, but I am not actually looking to set up shop in Ontario.

The results are displayed on the map through pushpins that you can click on to get site details. And you can pull up property comparison and summary reports. And of course, once you locate sites of interest, you can then turn on the Bing Maps aerial views to visualize the region and get insight into that location, its surroundings and the quality of life.

Want to know more? Check out the application. As with most Bing Maps applications, it is pretty intuitive--the beauty of a web mapping application that runs in a browser, an inteface that web users (most everyone) are already familiar with.

Congrats to both Orion Technology and the Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Trade for their vision and initiative. Let’s see how quickly other agencies in Canada follow their lead!

-= Virtual Jerry