The use of location in applications is a key differentiator today. While the current craze towards Location Based Services is gravitated towards deals, coupons and services, we often overlook the most fundamental of them all i.e. the news in your vicinity. Outside.in, a location based news aggregator, has welcomed 2011 with enhancements to its Outside.in API that could give rise to a new set of hyperlocal news.
In our earlier coverage of Outside.in, we noted that the API can help you search the news at macro levels like state, city, neighborhood and zip code. Just when it seemed that you could not narrow down the news event to a finer level, Outside.in announced a set of new API features. It has introduced the Nearby parameter to their find stories by location. You can now retrieve stories within 1,000 feet of any latitude and longitude point in the United States.
Another way you can now filter the stories is by specifying the radius parameter, which will allow you to get stories between 500 and 26,400 ft of where you are. One can imagine some very interesting applications that might come up as a result of combining your current location with a news event happening in proximity to where you are. For example, alerting you to possible danger in and around where you are.
The API enhancements do not end there. The API also includes location meta data that can now be returned for all locations that are attached to a story. In case you are only interested in stories that are attached to major landmarks and business places instead of regions like ZIP codes and cities, you can use the Places Only filter.
Outside.in is a direct competitor of EveryBlock, which maintains a hyperlocal database covering 16 U.S. cities. EveryBlock grew out of one of the earliest mashups, Chicago Crime. The EveryBlock API was released in November.
News is one of the basic things that we all look for. And by providing news at a fine-grained location level, Outside.in has put the ball into the developers court to create niche applications. What applications do you want to see built?