Somewherenear is the UK's leading Geographic Search Engine, a guide for leisure or business travellers looking for places to visit, food, accommodation and more. Somewherenear is built from C++, PHP and MySQL and promoted through Website Visibility

Purpose of Somewherenear

Somewherenear was developed to fill an important gap in the navigation of the Internet. Whilst numerous search engines exist for textual navigation (Google is the outstanding example), "cyberspace" is not the only kind of space that humans inhabit.

The developers of Somewherenear were frustrated by the inability of existing search engines to take geography into account. As an example, starting from a known point in the UK and then trying to find a good bar or restaurant close-by is still not made easy by current technology, despite the focus on just those kinds of establishments during the recent dot-com boom. Finding local leisure centres, rubbish tips and a host of other less glamorous kinds of outlets is an even harder task.

Somewherenear's core concept is simple. Places - things that have a physical presence - are categorised according to their purpose and can then be found and ranked by their distance from a chosen point. An ancillary feature allows visitors to those places to leave their comments and views for others to see them and help to inform decisions about which is the best for the intended purpose. The ability to make and leave comments can be switched off for certain categories if necessary.

For example, a person who knows that they are or will be in Bradford, West Yorkshire and wish to sample some of that fine City's outstanding Asian cuisine can use Somewherenear to show the available restaurants and to see what others think of them. The live maps provided by Somewherenear allow potential visitors to navigate around the geography and view what is available in different parts of the city or the region. Here is an example of that type of search.

From any given point it's also easy to find other categories of place such as accommodation, bars or any other kind of information that the Somewherenear database is aware of.

Status of Somewherenear

The site has been operational for two years now and has proved its robustness and reliability. It was not developed with a large commercial budget, but rather as a proof of concept. To that end, it has been part-populated with data from research of the Internet and also by its own users who are able to recommend and add their own favourites. It usually accumulates between two and ten new places a day through user activity. It attracts around 400,000 page views per month despite its lack of marketing budget or activity.

Our goal is now to extend it and to help it to provide a useful service to both users and providers of geographic information. We we would like to start discussions with bodies such as local authorities, churches, retailers and indeed any other groups that have numerous geographic outlets where it will be important for their users to find the nearest suitable "branch". Initially we wish to pilot a scheme where the owner of the data is able to edit, upload and download datasets so that we can tailor it exactly to their needs, then make the service generally available to anyone with Somewherenear's kind of data.

Whilst there will have to be a modest fee involved to cover running costs and ensure the provision of a reliable service, we think that those costs will not be found to be large.

Presentational Options

The Somewherenear site was built in a way that allows its presentation to be tailored without incurring extensive redevelopment costs. The database and searching components are independent of the part which presents the results to the site's users. The intention here is that it should be possible to provide customised or tailored access and presentation to suit particular groups of users or providers. The licensing conditions attached to the Ordnance Survey maps have a certain bearing on just how easy it is to provide a fully tailored version, but even then the terms probably fall well within the budget of many types of information provider.

The software was written by and is wholly owned by GBdirect and has no external licensing dependencies other than the licences required for the postcode data and the maps.

Benefits of Somewherenear

The site provides an simple and low-cost solution for anyone that needs to publish lists of branches or outlets. Provided that basic address and location information is available through postcodes, grid references or latitude/longitude, adding the information to Somewherenear's datbase should be straightforward. The site is also capable of being tailored to suit a particular publisher either for integration into their own website or as a standalone service. We are now actively seeking suitable partners to trial this kind of service before making it generally available on a commercial basis.

logo This geographic search engine was built by GBdirect.