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Introduction

In the past decade, particularly after the release of Google Maps in early 2005, we have witnessed the wide-spread deployment and ever increasing popularity of online map services among Internet users. Today, the World Wide Web (WWW) has transformed the Internet into the primary medium for disseminating maps of diverse forms. This represents a breakthrough in cartography and brings a number of significant benefits to Internet users, such as low-cost dissemination, real-time updates, and personalized content generation.

The Google Map is now among the top 5 popular Google services1, and has seen its traffic more than doubled every year2. Other well-known online map sites, such as Yahoo Maps, Sogou Maps, Baidu Maps, and Live Maps, have also successfully attracted large user-bases by providing diverse geographical coverage and customized services. Map applications are also widely used in mobile devices, such as smartphones, netbook, etc, and could take up large partition of traffic in some mobile device. Therefore, understanding the characteristics of the online map services as well as their traffic patterns becomes critical to their further development and to the Internet traffic engineering.

The online map service is constantly embracing new technologies and their adoption of innovations is almost instantaneous. Examples include street views and 3D virtual cities, services to cell phones and PDAs, and customized search for real estate and travel agents , to name but a few. Recently, we have also seen a new shift of online map services to the Web 2.0 platform that seamlessly bridges different websites to share data and services, offering a new publishing and distributing genre.

To this end, we have conducted a long-term traffic measurement of the popular online map sites, and provided the results online. We designed effective tools to separate the map application traffic from general HTTP traffic. We monitored the accesses information to these sites for 31 days (6-18 January, 2009; and 7-24 April, 2009), spanning over 4 months. Over 2 million requests and responses were captured in our measurement, resulting in about 10 GBs of map traffic data. The sheer volume of data enables researchers to identify key characteristics of the online map services, to analyze their traffic patterns in different levels, as well as to compare these major providers from diverse aspects.

 
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