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Category Archives: Maps

Local Search API List

Posted today on Local SEO Guide

Just posted the following list of local search api’s on SearchEngineLand.  I am going to be maintaining the list here and will be updating it from time to time.


Hyperlocal news site bought by MSNBC.com

The “local” web is all a-buzz today…

From its founder

EveryBlock has been acquired by MSNBC.com

From the Local Onliner

While the site takes a unique approach, it is poised to compete with other hyperlocal sites such as Outside.in, Topix.net, Placeblogger and Patch.com (acquired by AOL this summer for $10 million).

From TechCrunch

EveryBlock currently covers only about 15 cities in the U.S. and comScore estimates its U.S. audience to be only 143,000 unique visitors a month (July, 2009). In contrast, competitor Outside.in attracts 800,000 unique visitors in the U.S. These are relatively small numbers, but these services do a good job of collecting neighborhood news without the expense of actually reporting it.

From Kara Swisher

MSNBC.com–a joint venture of Microsoft (MSFT) and GE (GE) unit NBC Universal–paid several million dollars for the “hyper-local” information site, which is up and running in 15 cities, including New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and Boston, sources said.

In June, Time Warner (TWX) online unit AOL paid about $10 million to buy Patch Media.

The New York-based start-up is a platform that does deeply localized coverage of communities on a range of topics, from announcements to news to events to obituaries. It is aimed at competing with local newspapers and other media.

EveryBlock takes a slightly different approach, scouring a mass of publicly available data in a variety of U.S. cities from a variety of public records–such as crime stats, building permits and restaurant inspections–and reassembling them into more comprehensible and geographically relevant news feeds, depending on what a user asks for.

And we’ve been asking the same question as Gotham Gazette…

… anyone familiar with the Knight News Challenge knows about Knight’s open source requirement: projects developed with Knight funding must be released under an open source license — it is one of the terms of funding. EveryBlock released their source code a few months ago, but Biella Coleman posed an excellent question

“Since the code is under a GPL3, doesn’t MSNBC.com have to also keep it under the same license if modified? Or can they take the code base since Everyblock is a web-based service?”

… And, James Vasile at Hacker Visions has an answer. It is a complex answer, and worth a read. Loosely? The holder of the copyright is not necessarily bound by the license a project was released under.


Neighborhood Boundaries and Maponics

Vermont’s Maponics continues to develop its wares

Yesterday we announced the launch of the Maponics Neighborhood Classification Schema™, a new feature embedded within the Maponics Neighborhood Boundaries™ database. Read our news release here!

Neighborhood Classification Schema ImageWith this, we are thrilled to have expanded the depth of our neighborhood boundaries database and made it more powerful for companies looking to target or filter out neighborhoods with specific characteristics.


Zip Codes and Polygons

Defining physical boundaries of neighborhoods is a cornerstone of Front Porch Forum. So we’re interested in local boundaries generally.  Vermont-based Maponics shares a good primer today about ZIP Codes and carrier routes (and they have neighborhood polygons too)…

The ZIP Code and carrier route coding system was specifically developed by the United States Postal Service (USPS) in order to make mail delivery more efficient.  This means that what the average person refers to as a “ZIP Code”, is actually a collection of addresses that have the same 5-digit code assigned to them. The USPS then further splits up each of these ZIP Codes into smaller blocks of addresses: carrier routes. A carrier route literally corresponds to the group of addresses that an individual mail service employee is responsible for delivering to each day.

There are roughly 43,000 ZIP Codes in the US.  These are divided into approximately 600,000 unique carrier routes with, on average, 15 carrier routes per ZIP Code.  Fifty percent of these are PO Box-based carrier routes which do not have actual delivery areas.

ZIP Codes and carrier routes do not tie in to any other US geography. Because of this, they frequently cross city, census tract, county and even state boundaries. The USPS does not provide maps or map data for ZIP Codes and carrier routes. Businesses looking for postal map data to inform their sales territory tracking, direct marketing and other initiatives have to turn to private map data compilers for this information.

Read the full post


Center’d integrates people, places and plans

Mike Boland posted today about a conversation with Center’d’s CEO who…

positions the company as a deeper dive into events, which breaths more functionality into all of the nuances of planning local outings. With the tag line, people, places, plans, it also brings in some social features and local search functionality.

The value proposition lies in the integration of these otherwise disparate local media categories. The idea is that a group of friends can plan a weekday dinner outing, find the location, read reviews (Yelp integration), invite people, and set up a landing page as a central source for event management. One can argue that this already exists with Google Maps, Yelp, and Evite, but the main point is that it doesn’t exist all in one place.

Center’d formerly was known as FatDoor.


CitySquares, PediCabs, and True Local

Peter Krasilovsky covers a Boston website today, CitySquares. Many interesting points…

Boston-based CitySquares, which just celebrated its second anniversary, is getting about 70,000 unique visitors per month and now has a base of 700 advertisers, averaging $1,200 per year, reports CEO Ben Saren… Roughly a third of the existing advertiser base is in the downtown Boston area, while the others come from adjacent communities… As with most other city guides, the best categories are restaurants and vanity sites –beauty salons, spas etc.

The hyperlocal company, which has raised under $2 million, has seven full time sales agents working for it, and has really built up a well-known brand in Beantown, says Saren. He believes that a large part of the recognition is due to innovative advertising efforts, such as local event sponsorships; quite a bit of viral marketing; and an exclusive deal with Boston Pedicabs. There are 17 Pedicabs cycling around Boston all day and night, and a CitySquares banner is on the back of each one – shared with various CitySquares advertisers, who help foot the bill.

Hey! I drove a pedicab in Washington, DC years ago… Boston must be a good spot for that.

To Saren, the high awareness factor puts the company in good position to “own” the market. He says, in fact, that it is a fallacy that local advertisers are being deluged by a wide group of hyerlocal opportunities. Sites associated with major local media and directory firms, such as The Boston Globe’s Boston. Com, Gatehouse’s Wicked Local and Idearc’s SuperPages, never come up in conversations with potential advertisers, he says. Yelp and Outside.in don’t either. Only IAC’s Citysearch comes up, and Saren believes he is gaining a bead on it.

I wonder about “owning” a region. It’s a tough slog to become the defacto place that local folks turn to on the web. Seems to me that once someone has that spot, they’d be dug in deep… hard to dislodge. This is an opportunity for genuinely local efforts — like CitySquares in Boston, iBrattleboro, Front Porch Forum and others — to get firmly rooted before the giant WalMart/McDonald versions of “local” come to town.

CitySquares is currently looking to expand its hyperlocal approach beyond Boston’s “Route 128” divider. Starting June 16, the company will launch automated versions of communities throughout New England and New York, easily accomplished using its data feed from Localeze and maps from Maponics. Saren acknowledges that the “expansion” won’t be fed with feet in the street and local editorial staff, at least initially. Those will be restricted to Boston. But if Manchester, NH suddenly starts giving us a lot of traffic, he says, “we’ll start a direct marketing campaign and provide prelaunch discounts to advertisers.”

If I had to bet on where they’ll win, I’d pick towns geographically very close to CitySquares early success… and places where they decide to invest real resources. “Build it and they’ll come” won’t cut it.


Google’s First Local Symposium

I’ve been reading several postings about Google’s first Local Symposium that they hosted at their HQ the other day.  Here’s one.


Honing in online maps

Maps are important to neighborhood level online social networking.  From an announcement received today

Placebase, Inc., the makers of the Pushpin online mapping platform, today announced a partnership with Urban Mapping Inc. (UMI), the leading provider of enhanced of local interactive content. As part of this agreement, Urban Mapping’s neighborhood boundary database will be available on the Pushpin platform. A demonstration site is available at: http://www.pushpin.com/urbanmapping

This is similar to what the good folks at Maponics provide I believe.

Also, from Google Maps today… people can now drag address markers for businesses and houses to a more precise location.  So Google is asking its millions of users to do the honing in that it can’t currently do through brute force.  Seems like a good move.

I wonder how many addresses we have in the United States?  We have about 300 million people and 2.5 or so people/household… so about 120 million households (some of those in multi-unit buildings) plus businesses, institutions, etc.  I wonder what percentage of these millions of buildings could have their location refined via Google’s registered users?

And a wish… that the Google Maps API used better data… or, perish the thought, that is used the same data as Google Maps.