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Location-aware search with Apache Lucene and Solr

Jan 14, 2010, 23:34 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Grant Ingersoll)

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"Location, location, location! Just as location is king in real estate, search plus location awareness can yield significant dividends in helping users effectively and efficiently find information. For instance, if you are a business-directory provider (such as a "Yellow Pages" site), when a user searches for a plumber, the site should return results for plumbers near the user's home. If you run a tourism site, you might want to allow travelers to search for places of interest near their destination in order to locate services that will help them enjoy their visit. If you're building a social-networking site, you might use location information to help users connect with friends. And the ubiquity of location-aware devices, such as in-car navigation systems and GPS-enabled cameras — and the large volume of publicly available map data — provide a wide variety of opportunities for building out Geographical Information Systems (GIS) that incorporate search to produce superior results for end users.

"Use of spatial information goes well beyond search, but in this article I'll focus on how you can take advantage of spatial information to enhance your search application by leveraging the capabilities of Apache Lucene and Apache Solr. Why use a search engine? By no means is it a requirement, given that many good (even free) GIS tools are available. However, basing your application on search offers several powerful features where many other approaches traditionally fail."

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