MapQuest Developer Blog

  • FlyCleaners Cleans New York City with MapQuest

    FlyCleanersCleaning over 5 million pounds of New York City's laundry is one dirty job. But in an industry that hasn't seen much innovation over the years, the New York-based startup, FlyCleaners, saw an opportunity to turn the industry inside out with the latest in mobile and geospatial technology. From its inception, FlyCleaners integrated MapQuest for Business APIs to build a company FlyCleaners mobile appthat brings laundry and dry cleaning into the modern world of smartphones and on-demand services consumers have grown accustomed to using.

    Cracking the Code

    Promising 20-minute laundry pickup and delivery in the world's second largest city – and the country's third most congested – is no small task. Founded in 2013, FlyCleaners has cracked the code in New York's ever-sleepy laundry and dry cleaning delivery service industry. With more than 100 drivers, the company serves consumers and many of the city's small businesses such as salons, spas, gyms, and restaurants.

    Objectives:

    • Geocode users' locations within the FlyCleaners mobile app.
    • Enable location-aware 'type-ahead' capability to save users from having to key in their full address.
    • Use routing data to help determine the most efficient driver and route for an on-demand pickup request.

    Mapping out the Business From Day One

    From its very outset, FlyCleaners identified the need for reliable, accurate and cost-effective geolocation APIs to support the company's on-demand laundry and dry cleaning app. Without such APIs, FlyCleaners simply wouldn't fly. The company needed a way to geolocate customer addresses, locate drivers in the area and select the most optimal driver to pickup and delivery locations – while also factoring in traffic, construction and other variables.

    A Clean Sweep Solution

    In 2013, FlyCleaners began the process of evaluating mapping API providers. "We evaluated several options, including buying our own maptech data," said FlyCleaners' Chief Technology Officer, Eric Small. "MapQuest had the right set of capabilities and licensing requirements for our needs," Small added. "It was a clean sweep for us."

    FlyCleaners runs on MapQuestFlyCleaners uses MapQuest's Geocoding API to determine mobile app user's location. FlyCleaners also uses the Search Ahead API to make it quick and easy for customers to enter their location by adding only the first few characters of an address, and then displaying suggested addresses based on the customer's location.

    MapQuest's Directions API is leveraged to identify all the drivers in the vicinity of a pickup request, upon which FlyCleaners applies its own proprietary algorithm to intelligently select the most ideal driver for the pickup, based on traffic conditions, construction, the driver's travel path and other factors.

    "MapQuest's Geocoding API is a core piece of technology for our business."

    - Chief Technology Officer, FlyCleaners, Small

    "MapQuest's Geocoding API is a core piece of technology for our business," said Small. "It was part of the genesis of the company and we've been very happy with it. Our users like it and we couldn't do what we do without it."

  • Retirement Announcement: JavaScript Maps API, June 5, 2018

    MapQuest will be retiring our JavaScript Maps API (Licensed & Open) on June 5, 2018, a little less than one year away.

    Don't worry, we aren't leaving you in the dark. We're thrilled to suggest a migration plan to our newly released JavaScript SDK library, MapQuest.js.

    What is MapQuest.js?

    MapQuest.js, the successor to our Leaflet Plugins, provides all of the power of the MapQuest geospatial platform combined with the elegance of the open-source Leaflet mapping library. Seamless integration with MapQuest's APIs allows easy interaction with the geocoding, directions, traffic, and search-ahead services, both with and without a map.

    Professional Services Migration Packages

    We understand that migrating could be challenging and takes ample time. Because of this, we're pleased to offer a variety of professional services migration packages at a discounted rate of $150 per hour to help ease your transition.

    Ready to get started? Package features dependent upon your level of need (click to expand):

    Don't wait until the last minute. Review our migration guide or contact us at support@mapquest.com, and we're happy to get you set up with a member from our professional services team to start the migration to MapQuest.js.

  • The Building Blocks: A Search for Accuracy, Part 1

    In 2013, a small team of technologists set out to unite the world by connecting them to the people and places around them. It sounded easy enough ... right?

    Points of Interest

    And so began SocialRadar: a networking app, which leveraged user locations and mapping data to give you context about your surroundings.

    Step 1: Master user location.

    All of the documentation we read on GPS/CoreLocation explained: "up to 3-meter accuracy!" Perfect! That would fit our needs. But, as it turns out, GPS is a very unreliable signal and as a developer, you have very limited access to it.

    Thus, we had to refine that signal. We combined it with other data streams, came up with predictive logic and minimized battery loss.

    In the end, we got pretty good at user location. Our accuracy was like none other, and we were pretty darn proud of ourselves.

    Step 2: Mapping.

    Just because you have an accurate latitude and longitude coordinate for a user, doesn't mean you know what store or restaurant your user is standing in. It means you have a latitude and longitude coordinate – two abstract numbers devoid of any practical meaning. Ugh!

    It turns out, we needed to take that coordinate and reverse geocode it. Or, in layman terms, we wanted to match that point to a business location. Again, that seemed easy enough. We know where the businesses are, don't we?

    The logical next step, turn to a major third party provider in the mapping industry. They have to know where points of interest (POIs) are, right? That's their job. So we sent them a user's latitude and longitude coordinate to reverse geocode, and what we got back was a list of possible businesses. They said our user was standing close to several locations, but they didn't know exactly which one. Wait, what? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Points of Interest

    So, we looked into the issue.

    As it turns out

    Major third party providers assign one latitude and longitude coordinate to every business so every business is represented by one point on a map. And as we all know, a single point is not representative of the physical location of a business. Businesses have a shape to them with clear boundaries.

    We looked into alternatives and they all had the same thing, everyone in the industry had the same data. And, worst of all - most of their points weren't even accurate at all! A third of the points were in the middle of the street – not even in a building entirely.

    Points of Interest

    What we needed

    Third party providers didn't have the data we wanted or the quality we needed. What we were looking for was:

    • A way to see the entire geometry of a business. What are the stores boundaries?
    • Exactly where the front door is. How does one enter this business?
    • Accurate locations. All of the venues should be in a building and the right one.

    The Only Option

    We had to build our own POI database. One that is independent of any other dataset and that is human verified. And so, that's what we did.

    Currently, SocialRadar POIs have 12 different location attributes, including a precise bounding box for over 12M POIs in the US.

    And, as it turns out: a lot of people have been looking for this level of accuracy too.

    --

    Stay tuned for blog #2: How in the He** Did We Do That?

  • Announcement: MapQuest.js Public Release

    We're excited to announce the release of the successor to our Leaflet Plugins, MapQuest.js! Built with Leaflet v1.1.0 integration, MapQuest.js provides all of the power of the MapQuest geospatial platform combined with the elegance of the open-source Leaflet mapping library. Seamless integration with MapQuest's APIs allows easy interaction with the geocoding, directions, traffic, and search-ahead services, both with and without a map.

    Leverage proven MapQuest APIs with new flexibility and more features:

    With new simplified interfaces, you can create and configure interactive maps with many new features. Instantly choose from light, dark, satellite, or hybrid map tiles with zoom levels from 0 to 20 and utilize OpenStreetMap or licensed MapQuest datasets.

    MapQuest.js provides all of the standard Leaflet controls, as well as our own MapQuest- designed controls, ultimately helping you code faster and more efficiently.

    • MapQuest.js Controls:
      Want to add some of the features of https://mapquest.com to your own map? The MapQuest control adds zoom, locator, satellite tiles, and traffic integration to your map with a simple and clean interface. Other controls include the new geocoding and directions controls.

    Use proven MapQuest APIs from inside a new flexible JavaScript library:

    • Icon Service:
      Access all icons from the popular MapQuest icons API. Standard and customized icons, flags with labels, standard or retina resolution.
    • Geocoding:
      Tap into our industry leading MapQuest geocoder to do forward, reverse, or batch geocoding. Tap into OpenStreetMap data or MapQuest licensed datasets.
    • Search Ahead:
      Use autocomplete for prediction-based searches with the geocoding control with search ahead.
    • Traffic:
      Include the traffic layer for real-time traffic incidents and construction. Icon popups add more details and three levels of severity.

    MapQuest.js is lightweight. Pick the footprint and the library you need for your specific application:

    • MapQuest.js: The full library with Leaflet v1.1.0 included. This solution requires only the MapQuest.js JavaScript and CSS resources to begin development.
    • MapQuest-core.js: The core library lets you use a specific version of Leaflet. MapQuest-core.js includes the MapQuest integrations of the full library, but without Leaflet built-in. Simply add your specific version of Leaflet's JavaScript and CSS tags before including MapQuest-core.js and you can use the Leaflet version of your choice.
    • MapQuest-maps.js: A smaller version of MapQuest.js with a focus on mapping. The maps library removes some of the MapQuest API integrations in favor of being a lightweight and maps-only focused version.

    For more information, visit our documentation for code and visual examples. And, post your follow-up questions or feature requests in our forum.

  • MapQuest.js Directions Now in Beta

    We're at it again! We've added to our new JavaScript library and you can now interface with our Directions API using MapQuest.js. Our team has worked hard to simplify the API to help minimize the number of routing functions and help you get ramped up faster than before.

    • Interface with our Directions API through MapQuest.js and create a route from point A to point B.
    • Add traffic along the route quickly and easily.

    • Include waypoints to a route and create multi-point routes.
    • Optimize up to 23 waypoints by time and mileage.

    • Include our new pop-ups with the mileage and time estimates for alternative routes.

    Javascript Library, Directions API

    • Add your own flair and customize the icons for the start and finish along with the route ribbon.

    Javascript Library, Directions API

    Now route yourself over our documentation page and start testing out our most recent beta release to our new JavaScript library — MapQuest.js. Keep us in the loop and let us know what you think about it!

  • Baron Services Powers Weather App with MapQuest for Business

    Baron Services, Inc.Do you remember that last weather alert you received on your mobile phone? There's a good chance it came from Baron Services' weather app, powered by MapQuest for Business. If you're one of the millions of users of local television stations' private-labeled weather apps powered by Baron, MapQuest for Business helps to determine if you're in the path of severe weather.

    It's all about the weather

    Huntsville Alabama-based Baron Services is a leader in weather intelligence data. Baron partners with a wide array of customers spanning from television to the U.S. military and foreign governments. At any given time, thousands of general aviation pilots even depend on Baron for weather data needed to circumvent potentially dangerous flight conditions.

    A critical need for location accuracy

    Due to issues with reliability and accuracy with Baron's previous provider, Baron looked to replace its geocoding APIs in 2012. Since severe weather can be extremely isolated to a very small geographic area, location accuracy is of utmost importance. People at risk of being in the direct path of hazardous weather need ample warning, while those outside the path don't need false alarms that might cause them to question forecast accuracy. Baron Services' Software Department Manager, Sherman Wilcox, reflects on the importance of geocoding accuracy in their apps, "Whether it's a tornado warning, flash flood, lightning or other severe weather, when we send out an alert it's extremely important that the people in the path of that weather get notified. That's where location accuracy is critical." 

    Powered by MapQuest for Business

    After an extensive search, Baron chose MapQuest for Business as their new geocoding provider. According to Wilcox, "MapQuest is better and much more accurate than our previous provider." MapQuest geocodes user addresses within Baron's apps, translating even the most rural address into latitude and longitudinal coordinates, which are used in meteorological data. The end result is that users know exactly whether they or their loved ones are in the path of any significant weather system.

    Enabling 'narrowcasting' to specific users

    Chief Meteorologist Dave Freeman, with KSNW TV in Wichita, KansasIn a video on Baron's website, Chief Meteorologist Dave Freeman, with KSNW TV in Wichita, Kan., commented on the precision of the location data in Baron's application, saying that it is "highly-specific; with geofencing you are able to target the people in the path of dangerous weather conditions – and only those people. So it is very much, 'narrowcasting' critical information to just the people who need to know about it."

    A wise decision

    Wilcox is very pleased with his decision to be using our Geocoding API. "MapQuest is a good company to work with – they're very reliable and have excellent customer service. I can't ask for much more than that. I would definitely recommend MapQuest to anyone looking for similar geocoding capabilities."

  • Street Fight Summit: Debunking Location Inaccuracies ​​​​​​​

    Recently, we had the opportunity to attend Street Fight's annual Street Fight Summit in New York City as gold sponsors. The conference, which occurred from June 12-14, focuses on all things hyper local marketing.

    MapQuest was on hand to promote our newly acquired SocialRadar point of interest (POI) dataset, as well as hand out awesome swag: t-shirts, water bottles, stickers and more. Word on the street is that we have some pretty killer swag.

    Our Director of Business Development & Product - SocialRadar, Philippe Chetrit, also presented on the current pitfalls facing the location industry.

    If you're interested in learning about why low-fidelity points of interest data won't cut it anymore, how SocialRadar debunks common location industry myths and why it matters for marketing professionals, check out his presentation here.

    If you're interested in learning more about our robust and highly accurate SocialRadar POIs, reach out to us at sales@mapquest.com.

  • MapQuest.js Geocoding & Search Ahead Now in Beta

    Did you hear? A few weeks ago we announced the successful beta launch of MapQuest.js. As we build out our new JavaScript library, you'll be able to interface with additional MapQuest APIs. Geocoding and Search Ahead are now in beta and accessible through MapQuest.js.

    Geocoding

    • Interface with our Geocoding API to complete forward, reverse or batch geocode requests.
    • Add geocoding to your JavaScript application and decide to either display results on a map or simply store the results without showing them on a map. (Extended Rights Geocoding license is required)
    • Easily tap into OpenStreetMap data or MapQuest's licensed data, the choice is yours.

    Search Ahead

    • Interface with our Search Ahead API for autocomplete-like search results that returns predictions based on your location.
    • Add a search bar to your map with our Geocoding control and interactively geocode or find search results on the fly.
    • Access addresses, airports or adminAreas using the API. If you're interested in premium POI data, contact us.

    View more in depth details on Geocoding and Search Ahead for MapQuest.js to get started and let us know what you think.

  • MapQuest JavaScript Libraries: Now in Beta

    We're proud to announce the beta launch of MapQuest.js and MapQuest-GL.js. Get started today using your existing MapQuest API key and let us know what you think.

    Now, let's break it down.

    MapQuest.js

    MapQuest.js is a JavaScript SDK that allows you to quickly integrate your JavaScript application with our web services without writing extensive code. MapQuest.js is built on Leaflet and supports open source, allowing more customization than ever before.

    • Create mobile-friendly interactive maps with MapQuest.js.

    • Add the control from MapQuest.com with a few lines of code, and allow users to pan, zoom, change map styles, and overlay traffic and incidents.

    • Add traffic and incidents powered by MapQuest Traffic API.

    As the summer rolls on, you'll be able to interface with additional MapQuest Web Services including our Geocoding API, Search Ahead API and Directions API.

    MapQuest-GL.js

    Step into the future with MapQuest-GL.js. Interact with our lightweight vector maps in a three- dimensional space, and customize the pitch, bearing and center to your liking. All you need is a modern browser to get started.

    So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and test out our latest beta offerings — MapQuest.js and MapQuest-GL.js. Feel free to provide feedback for MapQuest.js and MapQuest-GL.js in our forums.

  • Building innovative products in 24-hours at TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon NYC

    Recently, Verizon Companies MapQuest, Sensity and it's ThingSpace team joined together to co-sponsor TechCrunch Disrupt's Hackathon in New York City on May 13-14, 2017.

    Nearly 700 hackers descended upon Pier 36 to create new products utilizing sponsor APIs and SDKs for the chance to win big. Teams were also given the opportunity to present to a panel of expert judges and sponsors on the TechCrunch Disrupt stage.

    While in the Big Apple, we opened up our APIs and SDKs for developers to create an advanced, finished product that successfully implemented multiple APIs. Those that rose to the challenge competed to win:

    • First Place: $3,000
    • Second Place: $1500
    • Third Place: $500

    In the end, we had 12 teams utilizing MapQuest and Sensity Smart Cities APIs. Read on to learn about the top 3 teams:

    First Place: Val.ai

    Val.ai is an application that allows users to bid on local parking spaces that are occupied by autonomous vehicles. The highest bidder is alerted of their winning spot, notified using ThingSpace APIs and sent directions using the MapQuest Directions API and our Leaflet Maps Plugin, and the autonomous vehicles then drives away to find another spot to park in.

    Second Place: IntelliDrive

    IntelliDrive is an application that offers time-based, contextual intelligence to users on road trips. The app offers suggestions, such as nearest restaurants along your route and sends alerts and suggestions related to low fuel and gas stations nearby. IntelliDrive utilized ThingSpace APIs for notification and MapQuest's Search, Icon Service, Directions and Traffic APIs, as well as our ios SDK.

    Third Place: Swerve

    Swerve is a car collision mapping and visualization tool that helps insurance agents easily view and interpret collisions. Utilizing Verizon's Sensity Smart Cities APIs along with Device Messaging APIs, Swerve visually displays where a collision occurred and icons to show which vehicle was where at the time of the incident. Serve also used MapQuest APIs for determining the location of the accident.

    Congratulations to all of the teams who participated in TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon. Now, go get some sleep and then keep on coding!