Back in late 2009, we started writing something we nicknamed “parlytags” – a first attempt at geotagging Parliamentary data, an experiment into what was possible using only existing public-facing data. It was retired today with a view to replacing it with a newer, leaner, faster one (but that’s a different post entirely).
It presented itself as a search box that accepted a UK place name
The app searched a local copy of data from the GeoNames.org project, found the right grid references and rendered an embedded Google Map, along with any suitably tagged data we’d scraped up earlier. The buttons underneath the text were clickable links to other places the data had been tagged with. Partly as a functionality demo and partly to compensate for the small data sample we were using, tagged data for up to a 40km radius was included in the results rather than just direct hits on the name
One of the nice side effects of using the geonames.org data was the ability to match against the alternate place names allowing for non-English names, regional variations, colloquialisms and common alternative spellings to become valid search terms for little extra effort
Where the initial place search results were ambiguous (i.e. the name could refer to 2 or more places), it chose one to focus on initially – the first one on the list, prioritised by the place type if my memory serves – and offered links to the others
The service may be gone now but the code can still be found on Github