MapData Sciences Pty Ltd (MDS) has been appointed Australian and New Zealand reseller for Virtual Earth and MapPoint Web Services, Microsoft Corporation’s web-based mapping service.

The Virtual Earth platform is an integrated set of services that combines unique bird's-eye aerial and satellite imagery with best-of-breed mapping, location and search functionality. Virtual Earth is used with Microsoft’s programmable MapPoint Web Service to integrate location-based services such as maps, driving directions and proximity searches into software applications and business processes.

The appointment of MDS to set up MapPoint Web Services and Virtual Earth customer accounts and to provide end user support is designed to meet the escalating level of interest in mapping and location services across industry and government in Australia and New Zealand.

MapData Sciences has been supplying mapping data to Microsoft Corporation and its affiliates since 2002. In 2003 Microsoft developed the MapPoint web service which was launched at Microsoft’s premier technical conference, Tech.Ed 2004 in Canberra.

MapData Sciences managing director, Laurie Edwards said "Microsoft is a prestigious account and the extension of the relationship begun five years ago should further underpin our credibility, particularly when selling data to other organisations around the country or around the world.

"Microsoft chose to appoint MapData Sciences as its reseller because of its lengthy experience in the Australian and New Zealand marketplace and the investment it has made in providing the local sales and support.

"We have refined our data products to meet Microsoft’s rigorous standards and this has been good disciplinary and quality exercise for us which has been a positive outcome for all our clients," Mr. Edwards said.

Virtual Earth combines road maps and directions with ‘bird’s eye’ and aerial imagery.

It uses such MDS data products as RoadNet Comprehensive, RoadNet Routing, Australian Points of Interest, Australian Suburbs and Post Code Boundaries.

MapPoint/Virtual Earth is accessed through an API, enabling an organisation to use a number of services including:

Find - geocoding an address to a latitude and longitude co-ordinate that can be located on a map or a "pin"

Render - creating an actual map

Routing - the path between two or more points on a map which can be explained as driving directions.

MapPoint Web Service can also be used for more complex spatial analysis.

The MapPoint Web Service is a programmable web service hosted by Microsoft and used by enterprises and independent software developers.