Google opens geographic search interface

By opening its Geo Search API, Google now lets outside Web sites display the full set of geographically tagged features that Google Maps can show.

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John Hanke, head of Google Maps and Google Earth, speaks at the Where 2.0 conference in Burlingame, Calif.
John Hanke, head of Google Maps and Google Earth, speaks at the Where 2.0 conference in Burlingame, Calif. Stephen Shankland/CNET Networks

BURLINGAME, Calif.--Google added a new element to its search interface that will let others' Web sites use geographically linked information.

The company has opened up outside access to its Geo Search API (application programming interface), said John Hanke, head of Google Earth and Google Maps, at the Where 2.0 conference here Tuesday. That means other Web sites incorporating Google Maps will be able to find geographic features that are in Google's database but that previously were visible only through Google's own map site.

Google previously shared only some geographic data through its search API: businesses within a search of a local area. With the search API now producing broader results, a Web site could show not just the Marriott hotel near San Francisco International Airport but also nearby jogging trails, Hanke said.

"The API guys are on a more even footing with Google" when it comes to building a mashup that combines Google Maps with a third-party site via the interface, Hanke said in an interview after a speech.

Separately, Google added a new feature to Google Maps that can show the presence of geotagged information stored in the Wikipedia collaborative online encyclopedia. The map shows a "W" link for entries associated with a specific location, as the Google Maps Mania observed Tuesday.

Google Maps now shows Wikipedia entries.
Google Maps now shows Wikipedia entries. Google