Posts Tagged ‘yahoo’

Yahoo GeoPlanet gains more concordance with other gazetters

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

[Editor’s note: Yahoo has several nifty tools, including Placemaker, all powered off their GeoPlanet gazetteer, freshly updated in v 1.4 to include links back to other place name gazetteers and even Wikipedia articles, so we (and our machines) can know we’re all talking about the same places. Flickr, for instance, stores the geographic tags on photos using GeoPlanet WOEIDs. ]

Republished from Yahoo’s Geo Blog.
By Gary Vicchi.

Back in March at the annual geo-fest that is Where 2.0 in San Jose we released our concordance API as part of Yahoo! GeoPlanet. That initial release allowed conversion between the identifier namespaces of WOEIDs, ISO 3166, FIPS, INSEE, Geonames, JGCD, IATA and ICAO.

Lots of you liked this and asked us to add support for other identifier namespaces as well.

change sign

Robert C. Gallagher once said that change is inevitable – except from a vending machine and that works in the Geo world as well. So in version 1.4 of GeoPlanet which is live right now at you’ll find additional concordance namespace support for

  • OpenStreetMap place codes
  • Wikipedia place article ids
  • UN/Locode place codes
  • Country Code Top Level Domain codes
  • FAA airport codes
  • US and CA ZIP codes

Continue reading at Yahoo . . .

UK Addressing, The Non Golden Rules of Geo or Help! My County Doesn’t Exist (Yahoo!)

Monday, June 22nd, 2009


[Editor’s note: Amusing and practical example of geographic taxonomy, topology with the example of England versus United Kingdom.]

Republished from Yahoo! Geo.
By Gary Gale, Head of UK Engineering, Yahoo! Geo Technologies

George Bernard Shaw once said the golden rule is that there are no golden rules and at Geo Technologies we understand that there is no one golden rule for Geo and so we try to capture and express the world’s geography as it is used and called by the world’s people. Despite the pronouncement on golden rules, a significant proportion of the conversations we have with people about Geo lend themselves to the Six Non Golden Rules of Geo, namely that:

  1. Any attempt to codify a series of geo rules into a formal, one size fits all, taxonomy will fail due to Rule 2.
  2. Geo is bizarre, odd, eclectic and utterly human.
  3. People will in the main agree with Rule 1 with the exception of the rules governing their own region, area or country, which they will think are perfectly logical.
  4. People will, in the main, think that postal, administrative and colloquial hiearachies are one and the same thing and will overlap.
  5. Taking Rule 4 into account, they will then attempt to codify a one size fits all geo taxonomy.
  6. There is no Rule 6, see Rule 1.

I codified these rules after a conversation last week, via Twitter and Yahoo! Messenger, with Andrew Woods, a US based developer who was, understandably, confused by the vagaries of the how addresses work in the UK. Andrew’s blog contains the full context but can be distilled into three key questions:

  • If the country is The United Kingdom, how come the ISO 3166-2 code is GB?
  • If the country is The United Kingdom, is England a country?
  • If England is a country, do I use it in an address?

As a US developer, Andrew is naturally fluent with the US style of addressing, with all of its’ localised and regional exceptions. This is a good example of both Rules 3 and 4 in the real world; most people in the US will use number, street, city, State and ZIP for specifying an address. But how does this transfer to the UK? What’s the equivalent of a State … England, Scotland or Wales? Let’s try to answer some of these problems:

Continue reading at Yahoo! Geo . . .

Yahoo! Geo Technologies

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

[Editor’s note: Yahoo! provides advanced mapping capabilities including GeoPlanet, a Web 2.0 gazetteer of world placenames (see also GeoName’s post on the relational ontology / the semantic web).]

Republished from Yahoo!

Yahoo! wants to connect the Web to the World; here you can access our increasing portfolio of platforms to help you geo-enrich your applications and make the Internet more location-aware:

GeoPlanetâ„¢: Provides the geographic developer community with the vocabulary and grammar to describe the world’s geography in an unequivocal, permanent, and language-neutral manner. (Blog post)

GeoPlanet Data: Tab-delineated files containing WOEIDs and the corresponding place-names that underlie GeoPlanet.

Placemakerâ„¢: Identify, disambiguate, and ‘extract’ places from unstructured and structured textual content to help create local- and location-aware applications. (Blog post)

Fire Eagleâ„¢: Allows users to share their location with sites and services through the Web or a mobile device.

Maps: Embed rich and interactive maps into your web and desktop applications.

Yahoo Woe (Where On Earth, that is) IDs (GeoBloggers)

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

[Editor’s note: Continuing to work thru a backlog of noteable but past news… I like how this API defines a placename’s location in a bounding box instead of a centroid. Wish it were both, but the bounding box seems more relevant (as a center point can be extracted, and you get the benefit of scale).]

Republished from Posted on by Reverend Dan Catt

Roll up, roll up, roll up, get your WoE IDs here …

… a jolly nice step in the right direction.

Yahoo have opened up their geo database (which is pretty good btw) which is far more awesome than I’m going to make it sound in this blog post. I already did a little bit back here. But a quick call out to these two functions that’ll try and find you WoE IDs based on string input…

… the first API call gives, 36240 as the value for Stoke on Trent in the UK, my old hometown. With that WoeID I can plug it back into these other API calls to get various useful information back …

We use WoE IDs over at Flickr, again you can read a little more about that near the end my terribly long previous blog posts about twitter, APIs and such like. A quick recap is that we have these WoE related APIs …

The ones that probably compliments the APIs over at are flickr.places.findByLatLon, which will turn a Lat/Long into what Flickr believes is there, more on this in a second.

And flickr.places.resolvePlaceId, if you plug the value of 36240 into the API explorer there you’ll get this xml back …

<rsp stat="ok">
	<location name="Stoke on Trent" woeid="36240" place_id="gEXCB1iaB571gw" place_url="/United+Kingdom/England/Stoke+on+Trent">
		<locality place_id="gEXCB1iaB571gw" woeid="36240">Stoke on Trent</locality>
		<county place_id="B_K1Z7iYA5qfCIiHaw" woeid="12602189">Staffordshire</county>
		<region place_id="pn4MsiGbBZlXeplyXg" woeid="24554868">England</region>
		<country place_id="DevLebebApj4RVbtaQ" woeid="23424975">United Kingdom</country>

Where you can see the same woeid, the URL to get to the Places page for Stoke on Trent, and the parent hierarchy flickr uses.

You can also plug the woeid into the to get photos back for just that area. A quick example of why that is useful is California, there’s no way you’d want to find photos for California using the bounding box, as it covers a couple of other states …

… but instead you can use the woeID for California (2347563) which deals with all the bends and kinks of CA. You can also throw that ID into the Places URL, like this …, although you’ll probably want to pass that through flickr.places.resolvePlaceId first if you want a pretty URL.

Differences between Yahoo geo API stuff and Flickr

Over at Flickr, we only use specific ‘levels’ of geo information, such as city, region, state, country, while the APIs over at Yahoo will spit out far more levels in-between the ones Flickr uses, as well as deeper down to neighborhood levels, which Flickr doesn’t do (yet).

Just because you get a WoeID back from Yahoo, doesn’t mean we’ll have photos for that specific area, we’ll probably bounce you up to the next largest places we deal with. So our parent hierarchy will have less steps in it that the ones you get back from Yahoo’s geo stuff. It also means our find by lat/long will only go down to town/city level and not precise neighborhood level.

We also don’t do photos or Places pages for Landmark WoeIDs, taking their example of Sydney Opera House which gives you an ID of 28717584 and throwing that at Places will give you no photos (maybe one day), although you can bounce up to Sydney.

Anyway, it goes beyond photos at Flickr, it’s just a really useful way that you, a developer can key off an ID for a place, that someone else, somewhere else can also key off.

If you use the ID 2347563 for California, and they use the ID 2347563 for California. And one, or both of you, publish your information with that ID, then you, they, or other people know that you’re both talking about the same place and match that data up.

Which is nice.

[Update 1: If you’re coming here from the CNET news article my talk isn’t actually about the location platform, its about Flickr photos and location :)]

[Update 2: For more official stuff about the Location Platform, you should probably see the Yahoo Local & Maps Blog post Abstracting Spatial Relationships with the Yahoo! Internet Location Platform where they use phrases such as “unambiguously”, “permanent” and “language-neutral”, and sum everything up far better than I]

[Update 3: and if you haven’t yet checked it out, I still think its worth reading my blog post “Twitter API updates, FireEagle and new Flickr API fun” as an example of what to do with woe IDs]

ALSO from Read Write Web.

Yahoo! today [in May] released a developer preview of its Yahoo! Internet Location Platform, a collection of in-depth geo-location based APIs. We expect to see location be more smartly used in many applications around the web thanks to this platform.

The gist of what’s being enabled is this: applications can provide the name of one location and then the Yahoo! APIs will report neighboring and “parent” locations. Flickr developer and map lover Dan Catt articulates the potential power of the API very well in a blog post today.

A lot of Ground Covered

Yahoo! explains the breadth and depth of location data it now offers thusly: “The [Platform] contains about six million places. Coverage varies from country-to-country but globally includes several hundred thousand unique administrative areas with half a million variant names; several thousand historical administrative areas; over two million unique settlements and suburbs, and two-and-a-half million unique postcode points covering about 150 countries, plus a significant number of points of interest, Colloquial Regions, Area Codes, Time Zones, and Islands.”

Geolocation is Hot Everywhere

Geolocation is hot, a number of new projects are underway to leverage increasingly sophisticated geographic knowledge to deliver value to end users. See our coverage of Brightkite and of Yahoo!’s own excellent FireEagle, for example.

Flickr developer Catt explains, for example, that Flickr could use the new APIs to offer images of nearby photos on several different levels, with accuracy as granular as Flickr is able to output.

There are a lot of interesting possibilities, not just for mapping but for services that are map aware. What would you like to see turned geo-smart? We’re excited to see what developers come up with. We probably won’t have to wait for long, either, since the Platform was released the day before O’Reilly’s Where 2.0 conference begins in Burlingame, California. Keep your eyes peeled for location savvy apps this week!

Google Now Indexes Flash Content

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

flash happyAdobe announced earlier this month that they have teamed up with Google and Yahoo! to enhance search engine indexing of the Flash file format (SWF). The newly published SWF specifications allow the search engines to better capture rich internet application’s changing states where much of the Flash file’s content is revealed as the user interacts with the file, not just the opening screen. Google has already rolled out this feature, Yahoo! will be soon. (Graphic from ArsTechnica. Thanks Gene and Laris!)

From the Adobe press release:

 “Designers and Web developers have long been frustrated that search engines couldn’t better access the information within their content created with Flash technology. It’s great to see Adobe and the search engines working directly together to improve the situation,” said Danny Sullivan, editor-in-chief, “The changes should help unlock information that’s previously been ‘invisible’ and will likely result in a better experience for searchers.” 

Read Google’s official blog entry on this new feature.

Now that we’ve launched our Flash indexing algorithm, web designers can expect improved visibility of their published Flash content, and you can expect to see better search results and snippets. There’s more info on the Webmaster Central blog about the Searchable SWF integration.  

 ArsTechnica has a good read on this announcement as well:

 As anyone who has had the pleasure of doing web design and development through marketing agencies knows, Flash tends to be wildly popular among clients and wildly unpopular among, well, pretty much everyone else. Part of the reason for this is because Flash is so inherently un-Googleable; anything that goes into a Flash-only site is basically invisible to search engines and therefore, the world. That will no longer be the case, however, as Adobe announced today that it has teamed up with Google and Yahoo to make Flash files indexable by search engines 

Google says it’s able to do this by developing an algorithm that “explores Flash files in the same way that a person would,” by clicking buttons and manually going through Flash content. “Our algorithm remembers all of the text that it encounters along the way, and that content is then available to be indexed,” wrote the company. “We can’t tell you all of the proprietary details, but we can tell you that the algorithm’s effectiveness was improved by utilizing Adobe’s new Searchable SWF library.”

Of course, Google (and eventually Yahoo) won’t be able to index everything embedded within a Flash file—at least not yet. Anything that is image-related, including text that is embedded into images, will be invisible to the search engines for the time being. Google also noted that it can’t execute certain JavaScripts that may be embedded into a Flash file, and that while it indexes content that is contained in a separate HTML or XML file, it won’t be counted as part of the content in the Flash file. These are all issues that are being worked on, however, and are likely to change in the future.

New York Times published something on this, too.

Way to go? Mapping looks to be the web’s next big thing (Financial Times)

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Reprinted from the Financial Times. By Richard Waters in San Francisco. Published: May 21 2008.

When European regulators last week cleared the €2.9bn ($4.5bn, £2.3bn) purchase of TeleAtlas, a digital mapping company, by TomTom, the maker of navigation devices, they were giving a nudge along to one of the hottest business fads on the internet.

Approval for that deal makes it almost certain that a bigger transaction will also get the nod: Nokia’s proposed $8.1bn purchase of Navteq, the largest acquisition undertaken by the mobile handset maker.

Navteq’s database of maps covers more than 70 countries. Yet as a source for the next world-changing online idea, digital maps might appear a distinctly unpromising place to start. These basic graphical representations of the world seem a rather humdrum commodity, hardly a key to unlocking the riches of the internet.

That is not how it appears to Nokia. Anssi Vanjoki, a senior executive of the Finnish company, recently summed up the reason for its acquisition: “We can locate our experiences, our history, on the map. It’s a very concrete expression of a context.” Displayed on the bigger, higher-resolution screens that are becoming more common on mobile handsets, maps can become “a user interface to many things”.

This is turning into a prevailing view in the internet industry – partly because mapping does not stop at simple two-dimensional representations. Mike Liebhold, a veteran technologist who is now a fellow at Silicon Valley’s Institute for the Future, calls it a “3D data arms race”, with some of the biggest technology companies rushing to amass vast libraries of information describing the world in painstaking detail.

Erik Jorgensen, a senior executive in Microsoft’s online operations, says the software company is building a “digital representation of the globe to a high degree of accuracy” that will bring about “a change in how you think about the internet”. He adds: “We’re very much betting on a paradigm shift. We believe it will be a way that people can socialise, shop and share information.”

The bet, in short, is that the map is about to become the interface to many of the things people do on the internet – and that the company that controls this interface could one day own something as prevalent and powerful as Google’s simple search box. This proposition takes on added power when applied to the mobile world. Displayed on location-aware handsets, digital maps can be used to order information around the user. The information that matters most is information about things that are closest.

That explains why a car navigation company and a maker of mobile phones are leading the charge. A collision with established internet powers such as Google, which has itself identified the mobile internet as its next big money-making opportunity, is inevitable.

Reordering the internet around this new geographic interface is a project that has been under way for some time. It starts with what engineers at Google call the “base canvas” – a detailed digital representation of the physical world on to which other information can be “hung”. Thanks to the plunging costs of technologies such as digital imaging and geolocation equipment, the world is being mapped, measured, plotted and photographed in almost unimaginable detail.

At one end of the spectrum are people like Steve Coast, a British amateur who is hoping to create a communal map of the world as comprehensive as Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. Volunteers who contribute to Mr Coast’s literally redraw the map. “You buy a GPS [global positioning system] unit and cycle around the roads,” he says. “It drops a data point every second, like Hansel and Gretel dropping breadcrumbs.” Collecting those data points and joining the dots is the first step in sketching a map of the road network.

At the other extreme are the likes of Google, which is approaching the task with its usual unbounded ambition. “Our goal is to make a kind of mirror world, a replica world,” declares John Hanke, head of its Google Earth unit. Many of these data are being gathered through painstaking methods and put into private databases. For instance, Navteq and TeleAtlas each use their own fleets of vehicles to collect a mass of street-level information useful to motorists but not shown on official maps – covering everything from speed limits and one-way streets to big construction projects.

These are not the only trucks and vans crawling the kerbsides of cities to suck up information. Google is there too. “Every five feet or so, we’re capturing a 360-degree image that is many megapixels,” says Mr Hanke. Those pictures add a detailed street-level view. Microsoft, not to be outdone, has taken to the air. It has gone as far as designing and building specialised cameras, flying them around to collect three-dimensional images using a technology called Lidar, a variant of radar.

This is about more than mapping and photographing the planet. It also involves modelling it, collecting enough geographic and spatial data points to be able to render a detailed digital version. With a service called Sketch-up, for instance, Google lets users draw their own digital models of real-world buildings and add them to its 3D “warehouse”.

These are expensive undertakings and are based on an untested proposition: that the resulting digital representations will form the new backdrop for a whole range of money-making online activities. Also, with several companies all racing to create what are essentially the same basic geo-spatial frameworks, the costs have been multiplied across a number of rivals.

Yet it is not hard to see how these companies justify the costs to themselves: gross profit margins on internet search are above 80 per cent and, for any company that can generate scale, these development costs are likely to pale by comparison. In addition, as the acquisitions of TeleAtlas and Navteq show, companies that have created parts of what could become the web’s next compelling interface already command high values.


ESRI to also support Flash interface

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Why are mashups via ESRI important? It will allow cartographers to create custom maps with our own look-and-feel, with thematic data, and still be fully enabled with the “mashup” web 2.0 mentality using APIs similar to those from Google and Yahoo.

The earlier post mentions a REST javascript API for interfacing with the Arc Server to create mashups. That’s true in the first release, but a followup release will allow Flash / Flex integration as well. 

Read more from and see an example. 

More info on the REST api from