Using Bing Maps as a Background

Product(s): WaterGEMS, WaterCAD, HAMMER, SewerGEMS, SewerCAD, StormCAD, CivilStorm
Version(s): 10.01.XX.XX and greater
Area: Layout and Data input


How can I view a Bing Map aerial or road map as a background for my hydraulic model?


Starting with the CONNECT Edition Update 1 release (10.01.XX.XX), Bing Maps can be added directly from the background layers manager (active internet connection required), with the ability to align to the model with up to three points of reference. See the related Help topic for more details. Note that the model elements will not be moved but rather the map background will be scaled and rotated accordingly to align with the existing model elements.

To check if you have the ability to use Bing Maps, go to File > Help > About (or, Help > About, for older versions). The version number shown in the lower-left corner needs to be 10.01.XX.XX or greater. 

To add a Bing Map background layer, first open the Background Layers manager. This is often found in the bottom-left corner, and can also be accessed from View > Backgrounds. Click the New button and choose "Bing Map"

For CONNECT Edition Update 2 and greater, you do not need to obtain your own Bing Maps key from Microsoft and can utilize a special per-product Bentley key, as long as you are signed into the CONNECTION Client.

For CONNECT Edition Update 1, you will need a Microsoft account to generate a Bing Maps key -

Starting with CONNECT Edition Update 2, you can choose to use a built-in Bentley Bing Maps Key, or choose your own user-generated Bing Maps key as before. You would click the ellipsis (...) button in the upper right of the dialog shown above and will have the option to toggle between the two different keys.

Term of Use - You can find the terms of use for Bing maps by clicking File > Help > About WaterGEMS, then clicking the Legal and Patent Notices button. You will find Microsoft Bing Terms of Use and Microsoft Bing Print Rights.

Frequency of Updates - Bentley uses service provided by Microsoft to retrieve Bing Maps aerial images for a given area and then display them. Microsoft controls the frequency of when the images are updated. The date that the images were taken varies depending on your location. Data may be outdated in areas with recent development. Some images are taken over a period of time and stitched together later, hence an exact date is not shown. If Bing Maps does not have an adequately up-to-date image of your project area, you can insert an image file in the Background Layers manager.

Alignment and Projection

Regarding alignment and projection, the Bing Maps feature works off of web mercator projections, using the Map Alignment field. The Map Alignment can be used to help transform the background. However, this feature doesn't use a true State Plane-like reprojection like you might see in a program like MicroStation or ArcMap, where you can list what the projection is.

To align the map with the model, select “3 control points” for the “Map alignment” dropdown in the Bing Maps Properties dialog. You can then select three points in your model and three corresponding points on the map, and the map will align itself to those points. For example if a particular junction is known to be at a particular road intersection, select that junction and the corresponding street intersection on the map. The map will be rotated and stretched to align with those three points.

Setting Transparency

Starting in CONNECT Edition Update 3.4, it is possible set the transparency for the Bing Maps background. 


Restricted internet access: If you have limited connection to the internet and cannot access sites which are not permitted by the administrator, you may need to request that an exception be added for Bing Maps. Otherwise, you may not be able to insert or view a Bing map background. The following address needs to be added to the exception list of your firewall or security settings, then you should be able to use Bing Map.

Bing Map not displaying: First, confirm that you are signed in to the CONNECTION Client and using an up-to-date version. Check that the Bing Map is configured correctly to align with your model location, and that the box next to it is checked in the Background Layers manager. If that does not help, try restarting your computer and/or reinstall the software.

Bing Map not displaying after reopening the model: In version 10.01.00.XX, if you uncheck the Bing Maps background layer, save and reopen the model, re-checking it will not correctly display the map and you will need to re-edit the Bing Maps definition. This issue is resolved in version (reference #788487)

Bing Map shifts position: There is also another known issue (reference # 1025234) which can cause the Bing Map to shift positions when reopening the model, due to a problem with the one point vs. three point option in the Bing Map properties. This issue has been resolved in the CONNECT Edition Update 3.4. For earlier versions, edit the Bing Map properties (from the background layers manager), set the number of control points to 3, define three points to align the Bing Map with the model and click OK. Save, close and reopen the model to confirm that the map is still aligned. If this does not help, try going to File > Database Utilities > Synchronize Drawing / Update Database Cache.

Flushing report or plan view report does not display correctly with a Bing map active: this is addressed in a patch to version (and will be fixed in future versions as well) - see: Blank Page in Report of Plan View or Flushing Report with Bing Map Active

Ability to change Transparency: This feature was introduced in CONNECT Edition Update 3.4. 

Bing Map transparency not applying to Print Preview: The transparency used in the Bing Maps properties will not currently carry over into the Print Preview for a report. This will be reviewed for inclusion in a future release of WaterGEMS and WaterCAD. The reference number for this is 983435.

Video Demonstration

See Also

How to add background aerial and road map images to your model