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State of the Map 2019

Playlist "State of the Map 2019"

Customizing Search for Special-Interest Maps

Sarah Hoffmann

This talk discusses different ways how to improve the search experience for domain-specific maps.

No map comes without a facility to search for places. As a result quite a few open-source
geocoders using OpenStreetMap data have been developed and have matured in the last
years. Nominatim, Pelias, Photon, Carmen, there are many to
choose from. They all have in common that they offer a general purpose
search for addresses, places and, to a more limited extent, places of interest.

OpenStreetMap has inspired the creation of many domain-specific maps.
Be it maps for specific features like brew pubs, camping or power
infrastructure or for activities like cycling, hiking or child entertainment.
A general purpose search on these maps is often not satisfying. The special
features might simply not be available in the generic geocoders. And when they
exist, they do not get the prominence appropriate for the map.

This talk explores ways to improve the search experience for such
special-interest maps. We start with simple approaches to boost results using
existing web APIs and then look into different ways for creating a small custom
domain-specific search engine. We discuss advantages and disadvantages
of the different approaches and show common pitfalls for implementations.
Although some knowledge in system administration and programming is expected,
the focus is on solutions for small and medium projects that are realized
with limited resources.