Semantic Web Blog.)
GeoRSS & Geonames for Philanthropy: "
I heard about Kiva.ORG in a BusinessWeek podcast. After
visiting its website, I think there are few places where GeoRSS (in
the RDF/A syntax) and Geonames can be used to enhance the site’s
It’s a microfinance website for people in the developing
countries. Its business model is in the intersection between
peer-to-peer financing and philanthropy. The goal is to help
developing country businesses to borrow small loans from a large
group of Web users, so that they can avoid paying high interests to
For example, a person in Uganda can
request a $500 loan and use it for buying and selling more
poultry. One or more lenders (anyone on the Web) may decide to
grant loans to that person in increments as tiny as $25. After few
years, that person will pay back the loans to the lenders.
How GeoRSS and Geonames Can Help
I went to the website and discovered the site has a relative
weak search and browsing interface. In particular, there is no way
to group loan requests based on geographical locations (e.g.,
countries, cities and regions).
Took a look at individual loan pages. Each page actually has
standard ways to describe location information — e.g.,
Location: Mbale, Uganda.
It should be relative easy to add GeoRSS points (in
the RDF/A syntax) to describe these location information (an
alternative maybe using
Microformat Geo or W3C Geo). Once the location
information is annotated, one can imagine building a map mashup to
display loan requests in a geospatial perspective. One can also
build search engines to support spatial queries such as ‘find me
all loans with from Mbale’.
Since Kiva.ORG webmasters may not be GIS experts, it will be
nice if we can find ways to automatically geocode location
information and describe that using GeoRSS. This automatic
geocoding procedure can be developed using Geonames’s
webservices. Take a string ‘Mbale’ or ‘Uganda’, and send to
Geonames’s search service. The procedure will get back JSON
description of the location, which include latitude and longitude.
This will then be used to annotate the location information in a
Kiva loan page.
Can you think of other ways to help Kiva.ORG to become more
You can learn more about Kiva.ORG at its website and listen to