Complimentary use of Microsoft’s Bing Maps with ArcGIS will begin to be phased out as of February 28, 2013, and will be phased out completely by September 30, 2013.
That was the kicker of the email I received from ESRI January 18th. Since then I’ve been trying to write a post that could be positive and not snarky. I do enjoy snark though. In essence you’re going to have to pay something to use BING in an ESRI product. I always thought it was a bit too good to be true. You’ve got a fairly up to date image layer and it’s just free. I checked the ESRI news tab and no mention was made of the the news.
Once you had access to the BING layer people started getting lazy. “Wooohoo Free imagery”. I was always a bit of a nay sayer about it since the metadata wasn’t exactly available easily. There were ways around it and you could always guess and get close…but it was never just obvious. The forestry guys I work with were always enamored with the bing layer – in several cases they caught equipment in the field or even found a forested tract that had been burned. So we knew within a month or at the most a few weeks of the image date.
…and now it soon will be gone. Good.
Why good? Because as a GIS professional you should know all the facts about your data. Some will pay for the key to get the Bing image layer back…some won’t. You really need to use documented sources. Use the USDA site to get imagery. Use available imagery from city and county. Do something – just know your data. You owe that much to your users. You owe that much to yourself – be able to answer questions about your data in a definitive manner. You couldn’t do that with BING easily. I knew a lot of people that even started moving data to match that image layer. So now – you’ve got to move it back or do something else.