Thursday, October 15, 2009

TownMe GeoAPI Allows New Types of Location Services

INTRODUCING THE TOWNME GEOAPI
At TownMe we have been asked on an ongoing basis by our developer friends if they can access some of the data layers and geo infrastructure we have built out while building TownMe. Rather than just build this for a few friends, we decided to release our API to the world.

Today we are very excited to announce an alpha version of our API for developer, which can be found at api.townme.com.

This API includes:

Read components:
  • A reverse geocoder which helps translate coordinates (AKA lat/longs) into human readable elements or associations. For instance, give our API "37.78093,-122.409415" and we will return information about the census tract, neighborhood, city, MSA, and state that contains these coordinates. This means your Twitter reader can now say someone was Tweeting from "Soma, San Francisco" rather then "37.7810, -122.4050".
  • A "POI finder" Give us a lat long and we will give you a set of points of interests including businesses close to that point. This means anyone can build services that allow users to broadcast location or otherwise interact with their "real location".
  • Aggregated and extracted data about locations. We have extracted key terms and data about businesses from data sets we have licensed as well as from open sources. This means you will get access to hours of operation and other key data about this business. The TownMe API also includes keywords which give a snapshot of the business. For example, "Ritual Roasters in San Francisco" includes terms such as "hipster" and "coffee" This allows your app to include and provide all sorts of cool applications such as "whats open now" map finders and the like.
  • A canonical URL for the location. We also include TownMe URLs for places. This lets you refer to a location even if you do not have a page on your site about the location.
Write components:
  • The ability to write data about locations. Each API key comes with its own overlay of the world and the ability to write data to this overlay. So, if you are writing an augmented reality game and want to hide a ghost at a bar in San Francisco, you can write the ghost to the bar using the API and all your users will find it there. This information will be stored on our servers, which means all these interactions could literally be written in Jasvascript without you touching additional server code.
DEMOS
We wrote some simple demos for the API. These demos each took less then a person day each (in some cases a few hours) so they are meant more as proof of concepts then as full fledged products. The speed with which they were written demonstrate how easy the API makes coding up location services.

Our demos page is here.


Demo of Twitter app #1 here.
You can view a simple version of it on the iphone: http://bit.ly/46pls2.



Install Greasemonkey script for Twitter demo #2 here.






Demo of location lookups here.


SIGN UP OR READ MORE
You can read more about the api at api.townme.com or by going to sexyapi.com (well, we think it is sexy).

Sign up for an API key here.

As a side note - our GeoAPI also informally includes a variety of units including but not limited to:
-Nautical miles (in case you are building a location sharing app for pirates)
-Smoots (in case your app is all about MIT)
-Micrometers (for the biochemistry version of FourSquare)
-Gold Coast Foot (I actually have no idea what that is, but we support it!)

These are experimental units so we may not support them long term, but we thought they were fun to include. Try to guess other units we may have! :)

You can follow us on Twitter here.

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