How does NPR's Road Trip work?
January 21, 2008 1:57 PM   Subscribe

How does NPR's Road Trip application work?

You enter in your departure and destination, and it returns a Google Map with the stations along your route. Hover over the radio towers and you get a coverage map. I know they've pulled data from Radio Locator and the FCC, but how do they make use of that data? Is it a complicated feat of programming? I ask in part because I'm interested in developing something similar for college/community stations, and haven't much clue how to go about it.
posted by schoolgirl report to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You would likely need to license their database, which includes lat/long and power of the various antennas, or build your own from the FCC data. Once you have that, use the Virtual Earth SDK (not Google Maps) to add in the antenna points and shapes for the strengths of the signal.

This would not be a trivial project, and would need knowledge of scripting and databases at the very least.
posted by Diddly at 2:21 PM on January 21, 2008

How important is the coverage map? If you just want a map showing the towers and a mouseover with the call letters/station name, that would be fairly trivial depending on the size of your list. If your list is small you can do this with Google My Maps. I'm assuming you already have the tower locations - if you need those, that's a separate question I can't answer.
posted by desjardins at 5:44 PM on January 21, 2008

I missed the part about entering your departure and destination. that's a whole 'nother level and Diddly is most likely correct about requiring programming knowledge.
posted by desjardins at 5:45 PM on January 21, 2008

Thanks so much for posting this question. Now I don't need to regret not having satellite radio when I go on road trips.
posted by HotPatatta at 6:02 PM on January 21, 2008

This project would require some web development and some GIS development skills. If you have either of the two, I think the project would be doable but non-trivial. If you're starting from scratch, it could be a bit too steep of a ramp up to expect of yourself.

The easiest thing to do would be to partner up with a Geography or CS student with an interest in GIS. If your local college has some kind of capstone/senior project requirement, you'd probably have no trouble finding takers.
posted by Hildago at 6:51 PM on January 21, 2008

Hildago suggestion is a good one. If you're not connected to a particular university, let me know and I can hook you up with a GIS class.
posted by desjardins at 8:06 PM on January 21, 2008

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