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
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
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.