Thelondonpaper to expand online map with local business listings

Thelondonpaper is to expand its new map-based online entertainment site to include listings of local services and is preparing a location-based mobile version.

On Monday, the News International free paper launched thelondonknowledge, a website that plots reviews and listings on to a Google Map.

Users of the site can search by street, venue or postcode and will soon be able to add comments to each review. All the London Underground stations and lines are marked on the maps and users can get travel information from Transport for London’s journey planner service.

Built by software development firm Assanka, the site uses reviews that have been published in thelondonpaper since its launch, along with additional material from external partners.

The site launched with more than 3,000 reviews of bars and restaurants and 5,000 listings of clubs, theatres and cinemas.

‘Every time a restaurant review went up on the site, the uploader would have to include the geocode as well,’said thelondonpaper associate editor Lisa O’Carroll, who was acting online editor while the site was being produced.

‘That’s how you can pinpoint exactly where the restaurants are because the geocoding is very specific. You get the postcode of a restaurant and from that you get the longitude and latitude.”

As thelondonpaper.com moves to a new content management system, geocoding could be expanded to news stories, according to O’Carroll.

‘We haven’t actually started geocoding stories yet, but there is a facility to do it,’she said.

‘In the long term, it’s possible that you could go to an area in Camden and find out which celebrities have been spotted hanging out in the Hawley Arms, for example.”

In addition to reviews written by its own editorial team, thelondonpaper site uses reviews supplied by Harden’s restaurant guide and material from pub guide fancyapint.com.

Another partnership will add listings of local businesses and services, such as plumbers and electricians, although it is unlikely to become a fully fledged classified advertising site.

‘The majority of the listings will be free and people can pay to have enhanced listings and greater detail,’said Leighton Cooper, commercial manager of thelondnonpaper.com.

A mobile version, a location-based service that will deliver information to users depending on where in London they currently are, is in the early stages of development.

‘This is a natural application to take to mobile, so that when people are out and about they can find things in their area,’said Cooper.

‘We’re working on the technology so that we can accurately pinpoint people’s locations.”

The biggest challenge in producing a mobile version is adapting the map content for small screen sizes, Cooper said.

‘You can’t just transfer our map product, as it works currently, to mobile because there is almost too much information – so we’re trying to work out how you can filter that that effectively.”

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