Microsoft Tackles Vehicle Fleet Management With New Bing Map APIs

The APIs can be used by commercial vehicle fleet managers to avoid potentially dangerous road hazards and keep better track of their drivers.

Bing Maps Fleet APIs

Microsoft has released three new fleet management APIs for Bing Maps that developers can use to create applications for transportation companies and other vehicle fleet managers that value precise travel guidance and tracking.

Typically, taking a wrong turn in a passenger car is an inconvenience that can be remedied at the next intersection or highway exit. For commercial drivers, following the wrong directions can translate into missed shipments, delayed service calls or much worse.

"Commercial vehicles have specific transportation requirements. Oftentimes using consumer routing services, made for cars and other consumer vehicles is not the best solution," stated the Bing Maps division blog at Microsoft.

"Routes tailored to commercial vehicles can help avoid a number of unhappy and potentially dangerous situations, not to mention increase efficiency, ensure compliance with legal restrictions, and help customers realize potential savings on fuel costs, vehicle maintenance and fines."

To avoid these mishaps, Microsoft released the Bing Maps Truck Routing API, which takes road conditions, legal restrictions, speed limits, a vehicle's dimensions and other several other parameters to calculate safe and efficient routes.

For drivers determined to take what they judge to be a time-saving shortcut that shows up in red (suggested routes are green), the API can be used to show Bing Streetside images of low bridges, hairpin turns and other hazards that can spell a disastrous end to an otherwise uneventful trip.

Businesses seeking more accurate methods of analyzing trips or tracking their fleets in real-time can use Microsoft's new Snap-to-Road API to iron out some of the wrinkles produced by GPS systems.

Sometimes, plotting GPS points on a map can yield some strange results. If taken at face value, a map showing a normal ride around town can look like reckless, curb-hopping time in the driver's seat. As its name suggests, the Snap-to-Road API turns a truck's or tracked asset's GPS points into the latitude and longitude coordinates of the closest road for a more accurate, road-hugging representation of routes taken.

Finally, the new Isochrone API allows businesses to better gauge travel distances and commute times.

It can be used to shade areas of a map in colors that pertain to the amount of time it takes to walk or drive to a location. Areas shaded in green, for example, can represent a 10-minute drive while portions that are swathed in red means 25 minutes behind the wheel. In addition to walks and drives, the API supports public transportation options, a user's current location, arrival and departure times and a host of other parameters.

Not everyone hits the road for business. For users planning a road trip, Microsoft recently released the Outings app for Android and iOS.

Outings hails from Microsoft Garage, the software giant's experimental apps unit. The mobile app uses the company's mapping technology, professional-quality images and curated content from top travel blogs to help users plan their next vacation or find interesting places around town.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...