I guess interesting stuff does come out of Where 2.0. Simply put, the Yahoo! Internet Location Platform creates an ID called WOEID (Where On Earth ID) for every location on earth and has an API to geocode back and forth from that WOEID.

In simple terms, the Service allows you to look up the unique identifier - called the Where on Earth ID, or WOEID - for almost any named place on the Earth; it also allows you to resolve a WOEID you have received from a third party - such as Fire Eagle’ or Upcoming - to the place it represents.

The API is accessed via HTTP GET; the following examples can be cut-and-paste into a web browser to view the results (note that these links do not work properly with IE6):

Find the WOEID of a significant landmark: http://where.yahooapis.com/v1/places.q(‘sydney%20opera%20house’)

Resolve a WOEID to a place: http://where.yahooapis.com/v1/place/2507854

Find the WOEID of a specific place: http://where.yahooapis.com/v1/places.q(‘northfield%20mn%20usa’)

Obtain a range of WOEIDs that match a given place, ordered by the most likely: http://where.yahooapis.com/v1/places.q(‘springfield’);start=0;count=5

Find the parent of a given WOEID (and return a detailed record): http://where.yahooapis.com/v1/place/638242/parent?select=long

Return the Placename for a given WOEID in a specific language (where it exists): http://where.yahooapis.com/v1/places.q(‘usa’)?lang=fr

To obtain the representation of a place in JSON format: http://where.yahooapis.com/v1/place/2487956?format=json

To obtain a list of geographies that neighbor a specific WOEID: http://where.yahooapis.com/v1/place/12795711/neighbors

The Yahoo! Local & Maps Blog explains it as “a more elegant way to abstract the relationships of location, and unambiguously describe places in a permanent, language-neutral manner.” One of the overused examples of a place in Arizona is the Grand Canyon so lets put that in the system and see what we get:


I like the hierarchy here: In the above example, Grand Canyons Village’s parent is the county of Coconino, whose parent is Arizona, whose parent is the United States. These relationships should help users get more information out of places than they did before.

Dan Catt has some details on his blog about WOEID and how Yahoo! is using it.