A new attribute ‘rank‘ has been added to the xml and json responses. It gives an indication of the popularity or relevancy of an article. The rank is an integer number from ‘1‘ for the least popular articles to ‘100‘ for the most popular articles. It is calculated from the number of links pointing to an article and the article length. The articles are more or less evenly distributed over the 100 ranks.
The ‘elevation‘ field is now filled for nearly all articles, where no elevation could be parsed from the article itself it was enhanced with a reverse geocoded value from srtm3 or aster. The ‘countryCode‘ coverage has also been improved. The attributes ‘population‘ and ‘elevation‘ are no longer set to ‘0’ for unknown values, they are left empty instead.
To cope with the increasing number of smartphones GeoNames has to introduce an application tracking for the free web services. The current system of limiting credit usage per IP address is replaced by a system that tracks usage per application. GeoNames is now serving over 25 million requests daily, half of which originate from smartphones.
The new domain api.geonames.org will now host the free web services. It requires that the mandatory parameter username=<geonames username> be appended to all requests. You can register a username here.
The domain ws.geonames.org domain will remain operational for a grace period to allow applications to update to the new domain.
We know it is a hassle to have to change the call, but the load and performance problems on the free servers have become unacceptable and need to be addressed.
In order to improve the performance on the free servers we had to reduce the radius upper limit for the findNearbyPostalCodes and the findNearbyWikipedia services. The default radius was also reduced.
Despite the new system we are still looking for Sponsorsto help cope with the costs of running the free services. The more sponsors the more requests can be handled.
Stephen Von Worley from datapointed.net has published some beautiful visualizations of the GeoNames database. Each of the 7.5-million geographic features is represented by a single dot, colored additively: blue for water, green for land, and red for manmade structures.
Also interesting to note, besides their pure beauty, are some artifacts (for instance a band in Ireland with lower feature density) clearly visible on the visualizations. Some of them (like the US-Canadian border) are caused by different data providers (usgs vs geobase) and therefore different feature density or feature type assignment. Others are caused by the data entry process itself. A lot of GeoNames data is coming from paper maps and you can see in some areas the form of the original maps used as data source.
Note: The newly assigned ISO code ‘BQ’ may cause some issues as it was already in use in the past. Till 1979 it referred to the British Antarctic Territory (codes BQ, ATB) before it was merged with Antarctica (AQ).
Version 2.2.1 of the GeoNames Ontology has been released. Navigation within the administrative hierarchy has been made easier with the addition of the GeoNames URIs for the parentCountry and the parentADM(1-4) divisions. The proprietary names are now subproperties of the standard rdfs:label and skos:altLabel.
The properties ‘nearby’ and ‘neighbour’ have been implemented inline within the feature document for the Premium Data Subscription.
GeoNames is launching a Premium Data Subscription as a quality offering for professional users. The Premium Data is released monthly on an annual subscription basis. The first release ‘September 2010’ is now available.
Two approaches are used to find and eliminate errors and inconsistencies. On the one hand all modifications are monitored and sorted by relevance. All relevant modifications are verified and confirmed by a member of the GeoNames team, on the other hand over a hundred consistency checks have been implemented to spot quality problems.
The Premium Data also includes release notes, documentation and additional data files. It is available in csv and rdf format.