The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC); an international consortium of companies, government agencies, researchers, and universities dedicated to developing publicly available geospatial standards; is currently requesting public comments on a draft charter of its OGC Geocoding API Standards Working Group (SWG).
"Geocoding is the act of linking a text and/or numerical string to a location on Earth," the OGC stated in a press release. "Typically, a user searches for an address or a point of interest on a map, which necessitates the geocoding of the user input and return of a position on a map. Such functionality is commonly enabled via geocoding APIs and web services."
The OGC understands that there are a number of geocoding APIs currently in the market. Given the number of apps and services that integrate mapping functionality, and the difficulty in building a home-grown mapping solution, it's no surprise that geocoding APIs are also quite popular. The Google Maps API consistently ranks as one of the most popular, and most tracked APIs in the ProgrammableWeb API directory. Despite the popularity of geocoding APIs on the market, the OGC points out that a lack of standardization creates challenges for app developers. Accordingly, the OGC is looking to standardize a Geocoding API, and the SWG has been charged with:
"simplifying interoperability between business intelligence, mapping, and routing tools, and the services the geocode strings, and adds the capability to easily replace geocoding services, or chain them together to improve the success rate of searches."
What would a Geocoding API standard mean for the likes of Google and similar API providers? That isn't entirely clear at this point, but Google and over 500 other companies (e.g. Oracle, Autodesk, Lockheed Martin, etc.) all have a member seat at OGC, so its unlikely that a standard will negatively impact the massive business interest in existing geocoding APIs. Those interested can find the draft charter here, and send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.