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Webcams

By Max Lent

There is no substitute for actually seeing how things look at your travel destination.  Webcams provide live video feeds every minute or so and sometimes in real-time.  Someone may set up a desktop video camera on their windowsill and point it at the street below.  Their camera is connected to their computer which sends out a snapshot of what the camera sees periodically.  A wonderful example is the The Space Needle Web Cam in Seattle, WA from EarthCam.  Most others are less sophisticated and have less sharp images.  The number and range of subject matter of Webcams staggers the imagination.  There are traffic cams, scenic cams, metro cams, and many, many more.  Once you start exploring you may find yourself surfing to destinations all over the planet.  A favorite of mine is the Mt. Washington Web cam.  This camera displays the some of the worst weather that occurs in the U.S.  I've been to Mt. Washington many times and every time I visit their Web cam it brings back memories of the spectacular weather at the summit.

During the Iraq war several news agencies provided live full motion video and sound feeds from Baghdad.  I stayed up for hours late at night listening to air raid sirens and watching bombs explode around the city.  I saw the terrible dust storms blowing the street lights during the dawn.  I saw news reporters live, before their formal broadcasts, fixing their hair, ducking bullets, and running for cover.  I saw footage shot by a camera operator that was killed later in the day.  Watching live, un-narrated, open microphoned, footage from Iraq for hours on end provided me with a perspective that few other people saw.  What was amazing was that I was experiencing this through my computer.

While compiling information about states in the U.S. I discovered that most states have traffic cams.  These are Web cameras set up along roadsides that show current traffic conditions in real-time.  The cameras appear to record at about 15 frames per second and stream their images to the Web.  To find these Web cams go to the U.S. States page and look for the departments of transportation (DOT) links. 

Before you go on your next trip anywhere in the world or just across town, take a look at the Web cam for that location.  You might learn something valuable from the experience.

Webcam Resources

 


 
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