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  • Natural Area Coding System Extended to Mobile Location Based Services Network (MLBS.NET)

    By GeoCommunity Staff, June 20, 2003 (Printer Friendly)

    You may (or may not) be familiar with the Natural Area Coding System (NACS). If not I suspect you will be in the near future. Last year I was fortunate enough to have been contacted by the developer, Xinhang Shen, President, NAC Geographic Products Inc. Recall we featured a story by Dr. Shen which introduced us to NACS (See Digitize the Entire Earth). The Natural Area Coding System has been developed in order to generated Natural Area Codes for all areas from the size of thousand kilometers to one meter or even smaller derived from longitude/latitude coordinates. The derived eight or ten character Universal Address has a similar length of telephone numbers, can easily fit into the limited space of business cards, yellow page listings, advertisements, etc., and perhaps most important, they can be pinpointed on all maps with Universal Map Grids no matter the scale. They can also be displayed on all GPS receivers without support of databases or maps.

    Since publishing that original article, Dr. Shen has taken NACS to the next level... The Universal Address System on MLBS.NET - a wireless location based services application providing driving directions, street maps and location based searches of businesses for entire North America and most of Europe. MLBS.NET provides highly efficient, cross-nation and cross-language Location-Based Services.

    MLBS.NET is best described as a comprehensive wireless LBS. The technology is powered by NAC technology and Microsoft MapPoint Web Service. Users of the service have access to driving directions, location based business search and maps for more than 30 countries in Europe and North America. MLBS.NET supports wired and wireless devices including desktop PCs, PDAs, Pocket PC, cellphones, and other devices. Get this... the service is supported in eight languages: English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and Swedish.

    Using MLBS.NET, users can specify street addresses, intersections, Universal Addresses, Natural Area Codes, points of interests, place names or ZIP/postal codes to specify starting and ending locations for driving directions. If a Universal Address or Natural Area Code is specified, the derived driving directions service can be extended to include 25 countries: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland (Helsinki only), France, Germany, Ireland (limited outside of Dublin), Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mexico, Monaco, Norway (Oslo only), Portugal, Puerto Rico, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States, and Vatican City. Imagine specifying the following command... "please provide driving directions from The Vancouver Trade & Convention Center, BC., Canada to The London eye please"! If street addresses, street intersections, points of interests, place names or ZIP/postal codes are used, the driving directions service covers 18 countries.

    Figure 1

    MLBS.NET allows users to use Universal Addresses to specify either or both the start and end locations for the driving directions service

    For coarse resolution searches, ie. from Toronto to New York the NACS codes would be 8c q8 (Toronto) to 8s pr (New York). Don't know the NACS code for a place? Don't worry, this service will always display the Universal Addresses for both start and end locations in the results page (See Fig 2 below).

    Figure 2

    Example Uses

    Lets Produce a simple map. In this example I specify a location (Vancouver, BC, Canada) with a range of 10 km. An attractive MapPoint-generated map appears (see below), along with the resulting NACS centroid, in this case, our NACS code is 4Q5JN R6DH3

    Other applications include:
    • Routing: limited to Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech, Denmark, Finland (Helsinki only), France, Germany, Ireland (limited outside of Dublin), Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mexico, Monaco, Norway (Oslo only), Portugal, Puerto Rico, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States, and Vatican City
    • Address Search: limited to Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland (Helsinki only), France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway (Oslo only), Portugal, Puerto Rico, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, and United States
    • Locator: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech, Denmark, Finland (Helsinki only), France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Norway (Oslo only), Portugal, Puerto Rico, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, United Kingdom (excluding Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Cannel Islands, Jersey, and Guernsey), United States, and Vatican City
    • Street Maps: All the above countries plus these individual cities: Acapulco Mexico, Athens Greece, Auckland New Zealand, Bangkok Thailand, Beijing China, Bogota Colombia, Brisbane Australia, Budapest Hungary, Buenos Aires Argentina, Cairns Australia, Cairo Egypt, Calcutta India, Charlotte Amalie U.S. Virgin Islands, Christchurch New Zealand, Delhi India, Dublin Ireland, Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, Hong Kong China, Istanbul Turkey, Jakarta Indonesia, Jerusalem Israel, Johannesburg South Africa, Kingston Jamaica, Kinshasha Congo, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, Kyoto Japan, Lagos Nigeria, Lima Peru, Lisbon Portugal, Manila Philippines, Mazatlan Mexico, Melbourne Australia, Mexico City Mexico, Moscow Russia, Nairobi Kenya, Nassau Bahamas, Osaka Japan, Perth Australia, Prague Czech, Puerto Vallarta Mexico, Rio de Janeiro Brazil, San Jose Costa Rica, San Juan Puerto Rico, Santiago Chile, Santo Domingo Dominican Republic, Sao Paulo Brazil, Seoul South Korea, Seville Spain, Shanghai China, Singapore Singapore, Sydney Australia, Taipei Taiwan, Tehran Iran, Tel Aviv Israel, Tokyo Japan, Warsaw Poland.


    MLBS.NET adds another dimension to the already popular MapPoint.Net web service. The combination of some very innovative technology developed by Dr. Shen and the comprehensive database and routing functionality provided by Microsoft will serve to further simplify the consumers' search for Amusement Places, Car Rentals, Cinemas, Gas Stations, Hotels, Restaurants, and Theaters. Are the people at MapQuest shaking in their boots? Maybe not, but maybe they should be!

    For more additional information or requests to reprint this article, please contact or search for me at NACS 7RSB7 N2JW9

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