iBase Digital Asset Management Blog

Using geographic coordinates for searching in digital asset management

5th May 2015

geographic coordinates for searching in digital asset management

Of course, geographic coordinates won’t always be relevant or useful in a DAM or picture library system, but it’s surprising how many ways there are in which they can be used. For example –

  • Obviously in cases where an item is actually defined by it’s location, such as a city or village.
  • Showing where an item can be seen, such as the art gallery locations of specific paintings.
  • The place at which a photograph, video etc… was captured.
  • The location in which an item was manufactured.
  • Events held in specific locations.
  • The typical places in which species of flora and fauna will be found.
  • etc…

Coordinate formats

In this article we’re specifically referring to global latitude and longitude coordinates rather than any country specific scheme, although there is no reason why a country specific grid such as that of the Ordnance Survey in the U.K. can’t be used if that is appropriate for your data.

Formats for Latitude and Longitude include –

  • Lat:53.924 Long:-1.824
  • 53.924,-1.824
  • 53.924N 1.824W
  • 53:55:28.4N 1:49:27.4W
  • 53°55’28.4″N 1°49’27.4″W

My personal preference and the one I find the least cumbersome to use is decimal degrees like this 53.924,-1.824, but in any event there are plenty of on-line tools available which will convert between all of them, including the U.K. Ordnance Survey grid.

Getting location coordinates

Location coordinates can be found in several ways –

  • From a paper map.
  • Using a GPS device including smart phones and satellite navigation systems. Of course for these you need to be at the location to be able to read it directly.
  • From an online map such as Google or Bing, a mouse right click will usually provide the coordinates. Google and Bing both use the decimal degrees format.

Map display and search of location coordinates

Just copying and pasting coordinates such as 53.924551, -1.824287 into an online map’s search box will drop a flag onto the location.

Within a digital asset management system, the geographic coordinates can be simply displayed as text in a data field, or as a link to the location within Google or Bing maps, or presented as a searchable and zoomable map display in which micro-thumbs can be linked to the details page of the item in question.

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