I am creating a cataloging system for rocks that come from all around the world. As part of this system, I need to handle the location of the where the rocks were found.
The problem is that the location needs to contain the country, a sub-item (e.g. State, Province), possibly another sub-item (e.g. County), then maybe a city, and then finally the mine/quarry/forest/etc that it was found in.
I don’t think that I should allow the user to enter in the location every time in plain-text, as that runs the risk of multiple spellings for the same location. Also, because there are so many possibilities for the way location is structured (United states would be
USA:CALIFORNIA:ORANGE:LOS ANGELES but Canada might be
CANADA:BRITISH COLOMBIA:VANCOUVER) I don’t know how to effectively store and query this information.
What is the best way to do this?
Are you aware of the “what3words” system?? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What3words
Or, how to address mail from the U.S. to anywhere in the world – a problem similar to yours – https://blink.ucsd.edu/facilities/services/mail/international/addressing/index.html
I’ve seen geographical data represented with latitude/longitude or similar coordinates, plus a code representing how specific or accurate the coordinates are.
You could use coordinates together with a textual address. The text is searchable but the coordinates -are-specific.
I think the proper way at the moment to store arbitrary text with markups for field identities – name of country / county / town etc. – is XML. A similar effort of your own would be just re-inventing XML.
How does the Smithsonian do it? Or is that where you’re doing this?