Need to add hyperlocalization to your mashup/site/app? Users searching for "Pizza in Dogpatch" and your geocoder just falls over? Well, Urban Mapping pulled a some what surprising, and incredibly great move today and announced they are opening up the API to their neighborhood database.
If you haven't heard before, Urban Mapping provides the data to most of the major mapping users on defining areas like "Little Italy", or "Soho". This includes Google, MapQuest, and others. By opening their API, third-party developers can now build this type of capability into their own applications. It's something we'll definitely be adding to Mapufacture very soon.
There are numerous other geocoders out there, not least of which is the excellent and open GeoNames. However, an API for looking up ambiguous, and changing local definitions of a neighborhood has been missing. UMI fills that by providing multiple mechanisms for finding and defining 'hoods. For example, you can look up the neighborhoods at a location, by name, or even get the exonyms of a neighborhood, depending on the language. There are a number of other methods and demos available. Check out the very good
documentation that links to each of the demos and even includes code snippets in Ruby and PHP for how to call the API.
As Brady points out on O'Reilly Radar, the API is using SOAP, and not REST. The API was developed just as REST was "becoming all the rage", but had various reasons for being SOAP based. Still, the code examples show how easy it is to use a SOAP library to create a simple wrapper around the API. [via Brian Suda]
Of course, I'm perhaps a little biased on the Urban Mapping demos and documentation - considering I helped developed them. Urban Mapping is a great company to work with and I'm really looking forward to their continued expansion of their data products and APIs.