More powerful map route searching
April 25, 2006 8:35 AM   Subscribe

Is there a way to search for locations that are X miles from a route, not just a point?

all of the mapping tools I've seen (Google Maps/Earth, Yahoo, Mapquest, etc.) allow you to find "All A within X miles of B", where B is a single point, ie, "all gas stations within 5 miles of san diego, ca". This yields either a lot of useless points (large radius), or only a few specific points (small radius).

What I'm looking for is a way to search for "All A within X miles of C", where C is a route, ie "All gas stations within 2 miles of I-805 from La Jolla, CA to San Diego, CA". So the locus of points would now be lines parallel to your route, instead of a circle around an address.

This could also be useful for travelling, such as "All hotels within 5 miles of I-10 from Tuscon, AZ to El Paso, TX".

I've seen similar stuff on the TripTiks that AAA hands out, but is there a way to do this dynamically for any criteria?
posted by toomanyplugs to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
What you're going to want is desktop or GPS mapping software.

Geocachers do this sort of thing all the time. Layout a course and then spit out an ordered list of items within a certain radius of X from the route.
posted by unixrat at 8:56 AM on April 25, 2006

You can do this with the Microsoft Streets and Trips (NorthAm) or AutoRoute (UK & Europe). The software sans gps reciever is only about $30, so if you need to do this often it's easily worth it to buy the software.
posted by tiamat at 9:04 AM on April 25, 2006

Response by poster: hmm, I have MS MapPoint, which as far as I can tell is similar to S&T. I'll have to try that later.

Can this sort of thing be done without the GPS? I have a receiver, but I would want to be able to search without having to actually run the route.

Google Earth lets me draw a route with the measure tool, can this somehow be incorporated?

What prompted this:
Say I need to get gas after leaving work. I know where there is an expensive gas station near work, or a cheaper one at home, but if I don't want to risk going all the way home before I fill up, I want to stop somewhere along the way, but I'm unfimiliar with the gas station availability along the way.
posted by toomanyplugs at 9:14 AM on April 25, 2006

Best answer: It's certainly possible in the grand scheme. Here's a tangentially related tutorial on how to take a set of coordinates, the output from a Google maps query (or proprietary route planning software), and some glue to plan a trip that includes X locations along a route.

To generalize this you'd need a way to geocode the locations of something you were interested in (so a list of Thing Stations in the Greater Mumblesville area). This is why geocachers can already play with this stuff, since all we've got is lots of coordinates.

I imagine that mapping software like Google will eventually be able to do this. I can't see much use in someone (ab)using an API for this for now, however, since there's not a lot in the way of open Points Of Interest pre-geocoded.
posted by togdon at 9:17 AM on April 25, 2006

Response by poster: hmm... i thought Google was working on geocoding everything... I guess they're just not up to that level yet.
posted by toomanyplugs at 9:27 AM on April 25, 2006

Yahoo has a geocoding API... it would take some effort but I imagine someone could combine the yahoo maps and google maps API to create something that could do what you are asking, especially with the info in the post two above this one.
posted by Frankieist at 11:03 AM on April 25, 2006

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