Unlock Places API — version 2.2


The Unlock Places API was recently upgraded to include Ordnance Survey’s Open data. This feature rich data from Code-Point Open, Boundary-Line and the 1:50,000 gazetteer includes placenames and locations (points, boxes and shapes) and is now open for all to use! You can just get started with the API.

We’ve also added new functionality to the service, including an HTML view for features, more feature attributes, the ability to request request results in different coordinate systems as well as the usual speed improvements and bug-fixes.

The new data and features are available from Tuesday, 20th April 2010. Please visit the example queries page to try out some of the queries.

We welcome any feedback on the new features – and if there’s anything you’d like to see in future versions of Unlock, please let us know. Alternatively, why not just get in touch to let us know how you’re using the service, we’d love to hear from you!

Full details of the changes are listed below the fold.

Ordnance Survey Open data
Version 2.2. of the Unlock Places API brings a huge open data set from the Ordnance Survey, free for all to use! We have included data from:

  • Boundary Line (open)
  • Code Point (open)
  • 1:50,000 gazetteer (open)
  • Meridian2
  • OS Grid References

Users from Digimap subscribing academic institutions can still register for an API key, which will grant them further access to additional, richer Ordnance Survey products:

  • Boundary Line (non-open)
  • 1:50,000 gazetteer (non-open)
  • Code Point Polygon (non-open)
  • MasterMap

We’re working on including richer sources of data that provide global coverage, including the Natural Earth administrative boundary shapes, and shapes of things in OpenStreetmap. Please contact us if you know an open data source you’d really like to see included.

HTML feature & footprint views
A new HTML output format is available for features and footprints. This provides a web based view of the search results, with brief information. When performing a ‘featureLookup’ to retrieve a single feature (or if a search returns a single result), more detailed information is listed with a web map showing the available geometry for its footprint. Links to footprint geometries in different output formats are also available. To see this format, simply add the format parameter ‘format=html’ to your request, for example:

http://unlock.edina.ac.uk/ws/nameSearch?name=edinburgh&format=html

Features also still have unique URLs, which can also be addressed as:

http://unlock.edina.ac.uk/feature/9657.html

Administration Boundaries
Features now include a hierarchy of administration boundaries (counties, unitary authorities, countries etc) to which they belong. For example, the village of Aviemore (feature 9762049) exists in:

  • Level 1: Scotland Euro Region
  • Level 2: Highland

Source IDs and Alternative feature IDs
Feature data responses also contain some additional attributes, including the source identifier number – i.e. the original feature ID from Ordnance Survey and GeoNames.

Where available, feature data now also includes a link to the identifiers of duplicate features from different gazetteers. There may be entries for the same real-world feature in multiple gazetteers – this feature allows us to see entries matching the same place.

Spatial Reference System (srs) parameter
Requests can now include an SRS parameter, which currently supports 4326, 27700 and 900913. Coordinates will be reprojected and returned in the desired spatial reference system – for example:

http://unlock.edina.ac.uk/ws/nameSearch?name=Edinburgh&srs=27700

Various bug fixes, refactoring and speed improvements and updates to webpages.

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