SimpleGeo Places Upgrades to Factual Data

A little over a month off of its pricing structure changes, location database-as-a-service company SimpleGeo has updated its SimpleGeo Places API with more data based on an earlier partnership with Factual. In addition to new data, there are new ways to access it, as well as some changes to the structure of the data returned, so if you've already built on the API you will want to take note.

The biggest update to the API is the data underneath, which SimpleGeo says is higher-quality with greater worldwide coverage:

Factual is solely focused on providing the highest quality place data available. Their Machine Learning and data experts are constantly merging in new data sources to provide more complete, accurate results, while also eliminating duplicates.

An entirely new dataset means that there is bound to be some issues maintaining backwards compatibility. For example, SimpleGeo adopted Factual's IDs and categorization system. Old SimpleGeo IDs will continue to work for lookups, but will return redirects to the new data. Some of the structure of the data returned has also changed, which SimpleGeo's Ben Standefer has detailed in this Github gist.

Finally, the update wasn't without new features. Staying true to the company's desire to provide geographic services, developers can now create bounding box queries of the data, meaning you can find all the matching places within a particular map view, as opposed to looking for everything within 5 miles, for example. The service also added full text searching over a number of fields, with location being optional. In other words, go ahead and search for every Starbucks.

SimpleGeo Places was previously free, with the company instead only charging for its flagship SimpleGeo API that lets you store your own places in its database specifically tuned to geographic queries. Now there's one pricing scheme across all three SimpleGeo APIs (the third being SimpleGeo Context API).

Be sure to read the next Mapping article: Is MapQuest Going After Google With Android SDK?