Early this year, a couple of new geographic vocabularies became freely available, to be accessed by machines and humans via web services.
The “Library of Congress Authorities and Vocabularies Service” (http://id.loc.gov) made available three new vocabularies, the MARC Code Lists for: a) Geographic Areas, b) Countries (with mappings to equivalent ISO 3166 codes) and c) Languages (mapped to ISO 639-1, 639-2 and 639-5). The same site offers Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) since 2009.
The main goal is to provide machine access to LC data and selected links to other vocabularies, e.g. in the context of Linked Data. The data is encoded in SKOS/RDF.
Individual concepts are accessible via a web browsing and searching interface for human users or programmatically via content-negotiation.
OCLC offers a demonstration Web Service for FAST geographic headings. The complete FAST (Faceted Application of Subject Terminology) vocabulary contains over 1,6 million authority records, reworking LCSH for easier use and application (http://www.oclc.org/research/activities/fast/).
The Web Service (RESTful standard, http://www.oclc.org/developer/services/MapFAST) takes the chosen geographic coordinates and returns a ranked list of FAST headings near the specified location. Alternative name forms, the type of geographic feature, selected events at the location and other information from the authority records is displayed. Developers can use the Web Service to develop their own applications (mobile, geolocation services).
The MapFAST demonstrator (http://experimental.worldcat.org/mapfast), using the same Web Service, is a mashup prototype that uses a Google Maps interface to present FAST Geographic authority records and, via links, allows geographic subject searching in WorldCat.org or Google Books. The prototype demonstrates a strength of the subject faceting approach of FAST over coordinated subject headings.
This information is based on press releases and mails from LC and OCLC, respectively.