Build it because we can?


We came up with a long list of functions that we could implement in Unlock Places.

We could get into more detailed location searches – going beyond ‘where is it?’ to ‘what’s next to is it?’ or ‘where is the same size as it?’ But we’d be answering these questions “because we can”, not because someone needs to know. Here’s some of the new functions we’ve considered for the API:

  • Buffer searches around footprints (within 1 mile of the edge of town…)
  • Area of a footprint
  • Centroid, or approximate centre point, of a footprint
  • Perimeter of a footprint
  • Distance between features
  • More spatial operators (only ‘within’ and ‘contains’ right now – could get into ‘overlaps’, ‘intersects’ etc.)
  • Searches within footprints (pass in ID of a polygon, get back matching names or feature types
  • Buffered searches for “find all places within x miles of feature y’s footprint”
  • Equivalence – “what towns are there, the same size as Edinburgh?”
  • Reprojection of output (all in WGS84 now)
  • New output formats – GML, WKT, even microformats?

I’m reluctant to “build it because we can”; our focus is on “enhancing the productivity of research” so we need some evidence of a research need or benefit for whatever we implement.

Got a use case or a criticism?

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