Google Gets Into Neighborhood Search

    May 21, 2007

Dear old Mr. Rogers often talked about things in terms of neighborhoods, but the algorithms running Google Maps never considered that sort of division.  Now they do.

“Google Maps introduced the ability to perform searches by neighborhoods,” writes David Tussey, a product manager with the Mountain View-based company.  On the Lat Long Blog, he notes, “Neighborhoods tend to be somewhat informally defined but well recognized in certain cities.”

The upshot of this upgrade?  “You can now do searches such as bagels upper east side new york and restaurants, over the rhine, cincinnati on Google Maps.  Additionally, this capability allows you to do city-level searches where the city is uniquely named, regardless of size, such as bakery corpus christi, or movie theater albuquerque.”

One problem with the neighborhood search feature, found by Compiler’s Scott Gilbertson, is that “informal names don’t work quite as well, for instance a search for ‘record store, the village’ will return results in about seven U.S. cities,” but that’s hardly a fatal flaw.

Journalistopia’s Danny Sanchez discovered another one: “the search does seem to occasionally have issues with neighborhoods that contain streets of a similar name.”  Still, this isn’t exactly an epic error.

All in all, Google’s new neighborhood search feature is pretty nifty.  Now if the company can just make it available for a lot more neighborhoods (“Neighborhood search is now available in fifty US cities, with more to follow,” writes Tussey), we’ll be all set.