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How to use online geocoders and interactive maps

Geographic coordinates provides the unified way to identify any place on earth. City streets could change their names and numbers, but the universal coordinate system, free of daily vanities and challenges of time, presents perpetual time-invariant numeric values on a planetary level.

Geographic coordinates system in general includes longitude, latitude and elevation (height), but the most used are the fist and the second ones, namely longitude/latitude. They could be presented either in degrees:minutes:seconds (so-called DMS) format or decimal degrees (DD) format. The following discussion pertains to the decimal degrees format.

Geographic coordinates could be obtained by using global positioning system (gps) devices, but this requires the physical presence at the point of interest. Another alternative is dealing with geo-coding software applications (or simply – geocoder, also know as geo-locator), capable of converting postal address to the longitude, latitude. Such geocoder in conjunction with interactive online Map (powered by Microsoft Bing™ technology which allows different views, panoraming and zooming) is available online totally free, serving both practical and didactic goals. In order to obtain the longitude/latitude information and the map of the geographic point of interest, either in the US, or abroad follow the steps described below:

  1. Open web browser and navigate it to the free online geocoder
  2. Enter the postal address into the search box and click on the "Find" screen button
  3. Upon the completion of screen reload, which could take up to several seconds, you should be able to see the longitude/latitude of the point of interest and corresponding Bing map.
  4. You could select from different available map view modes (road, aerial or bird’s eyes), adjust zoom level (from 1 to 19) and panorama.

Please note, that for the places in the US you could enter the full, or partial postal address, or just a ZIP code of the point of interest. Also, many landmarks in the New York City could be identified just by their names without any postal information. For example, system could accurately resolve the search query worded as simply: "Grand Central Terminal ", returning the following values for: longitude=-73.963429 (minus sign corresponds to western hemisphere) and latitude=40.779423 (corresponding to the northern hemisphere)

Useful tip: online geocoder has multi-lingual capabilities, accepting search queries in many foreign languages: Spanish, German, Italian, French, Russian, Greek, etc. Below you could see the test results, corresponding to the world landmarks, entered in a search query in the language of origin:

1). Grand Central Terminal, NY: Longitude=-73.963429, Latitude=40.779423
2). Eiffel Tour, Champs De Mars: Longitude: 2.29507, Latitude: 48.857967
3). Brandenburger Tor, Unter Der Linden: Longitude: 13.389096, Latitude: 52.517198
4). ???, ??????: Longitude: 37.530556, Latitude: 55.702778
5). Ακρ?πολη Αθην?ν, Αθ?να: Longitude: 23.729557, Latitude: 37.968679
6). Colosseo, Roma: Longitude: 12.493336, Latitude: 41.889957
7). Museo del Prado, Madrid: Longitude: -3.692524, Latitude: 40.413812

Copyright © 2010 Alexander Bell

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