Yahoo have released the initial version of their Yahoo! Internet Location Platform an API to access a database of place ID’s known as WOEID (Where on Earth ID’s).
In the UK we are familiar with the concept of location identifiers from the OS Mastermap TOID, which it fair to say is still to really achieve much traction. Key to success for these type of systems is their openness, something which perhaps not surprisingly, is not a major feature of TOID’s
For example try to find the TOID and location of Buckingham Palace and you will struggle unless you have licensed the very expensive Mastermap database for London, on the other hand the following http get request;
22474234Point of InterestBuckingham PalaceUnited KingdomEnglandGreater LondonLondonSW1A 151.500919-0.1413651.500469-0.1420951.501369-0.14063
A nice hierarchical representation of the place of interest and its absolute location !
This could be a neat way of providing a little more structure around the geotag clouds currently multiplying, resulting in the location of popular features such as Buckingham Place becoming clusters of points.
I think this is a great start, it will be interesting to see how the APi develops with the addition of some verbs, /add for example.