The MapServices's Location Naming Services (LNS) is a public internet register that tracks the physical or virtual space that something occupies on the Earth's surface. In this register the thing that is registered is identified by the concatenation of a unique name, a caret symbol (^) and an internet domain. The things that are tracked in the register could have a fixed (static) or a dynamic position depending on the type of object. For example the identification car^example.com identifies a car with a dynamic location that is tracked within the example.com domain. Using the register the location of car^example.com can be stored, updated and retrieved.


The location naming services are based upon concepts that are well known in our world today, take a look at the list below of similar concepts:
  • The combination of a country, city, streetname and housenumber identifies a house on the earth
  • In many countries postal codes (zipcodes) are identifications of geographical areas on the earth. Note a very big downside of postalcodes is the fact that they are often copyrighted
  • Domain name servers idenfity names and resolve to IP addresses

Practical use
  • Expose locations to your friends
  • Expose locations to your customers/clients
  • Contact lists can be extended with location identifications
  • Create and use location name links on websites
  • See who's following your locations
  • Easy tracking of moving objects
  • Avoid use of expensive copyrighted postalcode/address registers
  • Automatically add yourself to the caret pages (like yellow pages)
  • No need to re-print business cards when you or your company moves (your location moves, but you or your company is still the same)

Related topics
  • Geo tagging. Geo tagging stores the geo information within objects. For example a camera could geo-tag a photo with the GPS coordinates where that photo was taken. If you have the photo, you would also have the geo information hooked to that photo. If you would not have the photo, it would also mean you would not be able to resolve the location information. Location name services works the other way around; it enables the outside world to retrieve information about where remote objects are located. For example, a car



Detailed description

An often-used analogy to explain the Location Name Service is that it serves as the worldwide geo variant of a "phone book", for objects connected to the Internet by translating human-friendly location names into GPS coordinates. Besides of the phone number, the phone book (yellow pages) can also add some additional information related to the name (metadata) like the profession:

Fam. A, phonenumber +31-20-0000001, cellphone +31-6-00000001, profession: carpenter
Mr. B,phonenumber +31-20-0000013, cellphone +31-6-00000021, profession: unknown
Ms. C,phonenumber +31-20-0000055, cellphone +31-6-00000012, profession: librarian

In a similar way, our location naming services contain lists of objects that are hooked to locations (plus some optional metadata), for example:
car^example.com, latitude: 34.31, longitude: 12.12, metadata: none
office^example.com, latitude: 34.35, longitude: 12.55, metadata: none

Just like e-mail addresses are structured in the form of "name@domain.suffix" (using the @ sign to distinguish the name from the domain), the location names are constructed in a similar way. Instead of the @ sign, locations use the carret sign (^) to distinguish the name from the domain, for example, foobar^example.com translates to the location latitude 52.362942 and longitude 4.923983. Next to the latitude and longitude, the Location Name Service also allows additional information to be included, such as the altitude of a position, and a zoom level. Just like email addresses can refer to multiple recipients (a so called email group), location names can refer to sets of locations that are hooked to the group (a collection of points). Another similarity with email addresses is that location name services also supports the principle of a 'catch all'. Instead of using multiple Location Name Servers (like traditional Domain Servers), the Location Name Service is hosted on a cloud. Similar to Domain Name Servers, the Location Naming Service is publically available for each internet user.

This Location Name System was first invented by Gert-Jan Bark and Steven Reiz from the Netherlands in 2009, and was made available to the public on
June 14th 2010 on CodePlex.

The Location Name Service makes it possible to assign location names to both physical and virtual objects in a meaningful way, independent of existing location identifications like postal codes (which are old fashioned, inaccurate and often copyrighted). Because of this, in 2010 IPIdee created location name identifiers based on domain names. Every company or individual who is a legal representative of an internet domain is able to register an unlimited set of location names for this domain.

The Location Name Service are used for both static and non-static objects in both the virtual and physical world. Non-static objects could for example be cars or trains or individuals, where-as static locations can be used for, for example houses (home^example.com) or identifications or functional things. A zoo, for example, could have an entrance of the zoo identified by entrance^example.com, and if that zoo would have lions, the lions could be located at lions^example.com. As locations move (for example as people move from one place to another), their name could remain the same (home-address^example.com) where-as their phsyical GPS coordinate could be updated. Also the coordinates could be updated more frequently, for example when being used by a mobile device that exposes GPS coordinates of the owner of that device (mycurrentlocation^example.com).

The location name servers can be used like hyperlinks. Instead of the link pointing to an email client, the hyperlinks can refer to locations clients. Location names are easier to remember than GPS coordinates such as (latitude 52.362942, longitude 4.923983) as well as traditional addresses such as Linnaeusstraat 15, postalcode 1093ED, Amsterdam.

People take advantage of this when they recite meaningful names without having to know to which GPS coordinate or traditional address it refers. The Location Name System distributes the responsibility of assigning location names and mapping those names to earth-coordinates through authoritative cloud servers (for all domains). The servers in the cloud are responsible for hosting the lookup tables for any domain and subdomain. Since the lookup mechanism is hosted in the cloud, the concept is fault tolerant and has helped avoid the need for multiple decentral registers to be
continually consulted and updated.

By providing a worldwide, distributed keyword-based address lookup service, the Location Name System is an essential component of the functionality of navigations and address lookup in the entire world.

Other identifiers such as RFID tags and QR codes can refer to Location names.

Logistical companies and navigations services can take advantage of the Location name servers to identify locations, eventually deprecating traditional address lookups.

Last edited Jun 20, 2010 at 12:33 PM by barkgj, version 14


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