The “geo:” scheme

An increasing number of Internet protocols and data formats are being enriched by specifications on how to add information about geographic location to them. In most cases, latitude as well as longitude are added as attributes to existing data structures. However, all those methods are specific to a certain application, data format or protocol, and don’t provide a generic way to protocol independent location identification.

Over the past few years, emerging location aware applications and location based services were observable on the Internet. Most Internet search engines and a vivid open source mapping community brought an enormous momentum into location aware technology. A wide range of tools and data formerly available to professionals only were provided free of charge for everyday use on the mass market.

The ‘geo’ Uniform Resorce Identifier (URI) scheme is another step into that direction and aims to facilitate, support and standardize part of the interaction with geospatial services and applications. Accessing information about or trigger further services based on a particular place on earth shouldn’t be any harder than writing an email by clicking on a ‘mailto:’ link.

A Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) is a compact sequence of characters that identifies an abstract or physical resource. This document specifies the ‘geo’ URI scheme for identifying geographic locations in the WGS84 reference system, independent of any specific application, data format or protocol.

‘Geo’ URIs identify a geographic location by the textual representation of the location’s spatial coordinates in either two or 3 dimensions (latitude, longitude, and optionally altitude). An optional query string contains additional parameters.

The provision of civic addresses (street, city, country, etc.) to identify locations is out of scope for the ‘geo’ URI scheme.

RFC 5870 – the “geo” URI scheme

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