Computerworld

Yahoo developer tool identifies locations in apps, docs

Placemaker extracts geographical information from Web pages and social network status updates

Yahoo has created a technology that simplifies and automates for developers the process of identifying geographical references in the content that their applications process.

Yahoo describes Placemaker as a geoparsing Web service that extracts locations from documents, like Web pages, feeds, news articles and social network status updates.

Available via an open API, Placemaker analyzes the content, identifies places and then returns geographic metadata.

"We're now in a situation where there's a heck of a lot of information that's geo-relevant and location-relevant on the Internet but there's no way to get access to it in a geographic manner," said Tyler Bell, head of product at Yahoo's Geo Technologies unit.

Yahoo announced Placemaker at O'Reilly Media's Where 2.0 conference.

"Placemaker is designed to take unstructured content, make it geographically-discoverable, location-aware and geographically-relevant," he added.

For example, Placemaker could be useful to the publisher of a local newspaper that carries many articles about specific neighborhoods in its distribution area, Bell said. No editor can be expected to manually tag every reference to places with latitude and longitude coordinates. However, Placemaker could automate that process, which in turn would allow the publisher to exploit that location data in different ways with special features and capabilities for the newspaper's readers and advertisers.