By Jonah Nwokpoku
Online hotels booking company, Hotels.ng has developed a universal location solution to help e-commerce firms, especially online retailers tackle the challenge of poor addressing system in Nigerian cities, using a precise location algorithm.
The solution is a product of Hotels.ng’s internship programme which kicked off in August, 2016.
Led by Olayinka Success, a veteran Hotels.ng developer, a group of these interns began a project to define a new addressing format for locations across the country. The idea was to uniquely identify places using a number of characters, for example NG-LA1600-OD-01. This string, when used to tag any location (for example a hotel), uniquely identifies it down to the exact building.
This provides a scalable and flexible way to identify not just specific buildings, but also used to identify entire regions, e.g. the string NG-AK31UY would represent the entire region of Nigeria > Akwa Ibom State > Uyo > Uyo Urban.
The Locations Application Programme Interface, API has multiple potential benefits, some of which include: Easy pinpointing of every physical location with a longitudinal & latitudinal address and corresponding driving instruction; There can be a global auto-complete address standard as the API recognizes similar addresses and can predict locations with accuracy;
Easily recognizable unique identifier for places that didn’t previously have postal codes; All physical addresses can easily be linked to each other via their unique code, and driving instructions from any location to the next will be computed based on that.
The team leader, Success, said: “The product is still in its very early stages and it can only get better especially through collaborative efforts. We cannot possibly provide every address so we need people to contribute. People can actually suggest new addresses and flag those that might be wrong and need corrections.”
He added: “The locations API is currently released in alpha as an open data project – the locations information is free and open to all to download, modify and fix. The hope is that with community effort, soon we will have an API that allows us to effortlessly identify locations without many problems.”