Neighbourhood Reverse Geocoding

January 24, 2008

Zillow, the US real estate service, have released an awesome data set of neighbourhood boundaries for the US under a creative commons license.

Thanks to the Zillow boundaries we could add a new neighbourhood reverse geocoding service to our API. This neighbourhood web service returns the neighbourhood name, city name, county name and state name for a given latitude/longitude.

Zillow have aggregated the boundary data from online resources, chambers of commerce, tourism and convention boards as well as real estate agents.

Unfortunately they have not chosen the freest creative commons license, the cc-by license, like GeoNames, but have opted instead for the more restrictive cc-by-sa license. The share alike restriction will prevent people from improving upon it. GeoNames for instance cannot use it for their own database. While it is fantastic move by Zillow to release the boundaries, the sa restriction means the community will still need another dataset with a really free license. It is a pity since it will mean a duplication of efforts and reinventing the wheel. At the other hand I am confident that Zillow will change the license as the restriction does not stop their competitors from using it, it just hampers further development and Zillow would gain more without this restriction.

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2 Responses to “Neighbourhood Reverse Geocoding”

  1. marc Says:

    Over in the GeoNames Forum Sami is asking whether GeoNames should change the license if Zillow does not remove the share alike restriction : http://forum.geonames.org/gforum/posts/list/752.page

    The mission of GeoNames is to provide free data and share-alike is not really free. Why should we mind if TeleAtlas, NAVTEQ, TomTom, Garmin or whoever include GeoNames data in their data? Changing the license is therefore out of the question.
    What we could do, however, is to use a dual-license with two data dumps, or an add-on data dump for not-so-free share-alike data. We will have to do this if more interesting data sets use the sa restriction. At the moment I am still convinced that Zillow will remove the share-alike restriction.


  2. Hey, it’s Drew from zillow. Please note that this issue is being discussed in zillow discussions here.


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