Geographical Services?

Peter Laurens wrote:

This is a broad question to get me started in the right direction:

I would like to provide a location-based service so that users can tag
articles with a location (the place where the article took place), and
search (or list) articles by location.

This raises some questions:

- Presumably best practice is to allow the user not to type free-form
locations, but to help them pick a location from a list?

- Are there any frameworks that handle geographical hierarchies? For
example, an article may be tagged with a city name, and a user may want
to list all articles for a county, we'd need to know all of the cities
in each county or we'd return nothing.

The simplest thing may be to just have a flat list of places, with no
hierarchy, a list of cities and major towns for example?

Any broad advice on what's out there to provide any
geographical/location services would be much appreciated!
  
I'm not going to be able to help this yet, but just to add to it. What level of granularity do you want to provide? Can people search by the places within a city? How about different shops/ outlets within a city? Does it matter which branch generated the document?

Cheers,
Mohit.
8/23/2009 | 8:08 PM.

are you looking to connect with something like: www.geonames.org

Marion Taylor wrote:

are you looking to connect with something like: www.geonames.org

That is pretty good!

There appear to be some basic ways of digging through the hierarchy too
(e.g. finding the country for a city etc.).

This looks like what I needed, thanks.

Peter
if www.geonames.org is what you need, also check out:
www.gis.com

GNIS Feature Search (which seems to be an application using geonames.org)

and others via google: geographical database

PS you might want to also check out:
www.extonrails.com

Country, region, city ruby wrapper for geonames.org | Ext on Rails