The free mapping APIs have generated a tidal wave of interest, a flood of interesting mashups, and a trickle of genuinely new useful applications. While developers have pushed the limits of what is possible, progressively fewer meaningful new features have been introduced to the free APIs. Because the major portals are competing aggressively over the vast local search market, the development of their mapping APIs is narrowly guided by the short-term requirements of their mass consumer audiences. Not surprisingly they have concentrated on the eye-catching (3D! street view!) at the expense of deeper capabilities needed to build apps that go beyond just figuring out where to get a good cup of coffee.
The next wave of truly relevant mapping applications requires a stack of services beyond just geocoding, imagery, and cookie-cutter base maps. Highly relevant, targeted web mapping applications need the ability to customize the look of the map, to control the data layers that go into it, to access well-organized and truly open local data, and to take advantage of more advanced data visualization and spatial querying capabilities. The traditional GIS packages and their open source alternatives deliver some of these capabilities, but not always in the fast, flexible, easily accessible manner required by web developers.
Alarmed and dismayed by the dwindling number of really useful new mapping applications, the Placebase crew has developed of a new layer of the GeoStack that underpins a new wave of mapping applications. The Pushpin™ REST API is a structured repository of over 5 billion facts organized around locations (cities, counties, zip codes, neighborhoods, properties, and more), giving web developers instant, on-tap access to a variety of public and commercial datasets. Our presentation will highlight the capabilities of the Pushpin REST API by showing a live demonstration of PolicyMap, a web application used by policymakers and Real Estate developers to support the real world decisions that they make on a daily basis.
Jaron Waldman has worked as a developer, software designer, and entrepreneur in the web-based geospatial field since 1998. His company, Placebase (www.placebase.com), uses web technology to take spatial tools and approaches out of the realm of experts and make them accessible to mass audiences. Placebase’s flagship product is the Pushpin hosted web mapping platform (www.pushpin.com).