Spatial proximity searching using lat/longs

by @jehiah on 2006-07-12 04:34UTC
Filed under: All , Articles , Python , Programming , mysql , SQL

This article covers how to search a database via latitude and longitude to find matches based on spatial proximity (or distance). This code is for mysql (also some in python), but it should be easily adaptable to other languages.

The example below will center around searching for information based on zip code data. You can download a file with zip codes mapped to latitude and longitudes at cfdynamics. I have a sample which I used to populate my database table from the text file.

So we start out with a zip code database table

  `zip` varchar(12) NOT NULL default '',
  `latitude` float NOT NULL default '0',
  `longitude` float NOT NULL default '0',
  `city` varchar(50) default NULL,
  `state` varchar(50) default NULL,
  `county` varchar(50) default NULL,
  `zip_class` varchar(50) default NULL,
  PRIMARY KEY  (`zip`)

For simplicity i’ll query the database for a single zip code so we have a latitude and longitude to work with

>>> results = db.getSql("select * from zip where zip = '21401' ")
>>> print results[0]
>>> {'city': 'ANNAPOLIS', 'zip': '21401', 'zip_class': 'STANDARD', 'longitude': -76.610100000000003, 'county': 'ANNE ARUNDEL','state': 'MD', 'latitude': 38.967300000000002}

Now that we know the latitude and longitude of annapolis maryland, we can construct a query to find things near there. (This query below will work for any lat/long pair it obviously doesn’t have to be the one for my hometown above)

The formula (src) to find a distance is as follows

	* sin( radians(:1))
	+ cos(radians(latitude))
	* cos( radians(:1))
	* cos( radians(longitude - :2) ) 
	) ) * 69.09)

Where :1 is the parameter of the latitude we are searching near, and :2 is the longitude we are searching near. We will use truncate(value,1) to get our data back in the format 4.2 miles (ie: with one decimal place).

We will also use the sql phrase HAVING distance < 5 to filter our matches to only those zip codes within 5 miles of our search target.

This yields the following python code to make a mysql query

>>> matches = db.getSql("""
SELECT zip,city,state,
	* sin( radians(%s))
	+ cos(radians(latitude))
	* cos( radians(%s))
	* cos( radians(longitude - %s) ) 
	) ) * 69.09),1) as distance
FROM zip
HAVING distance < 5 
ORDER BY distance""" , ( results[0].latitude,
results[0].latitude, results[0].longitude))
>>> len(matches)

So we see that there are 27 other zip codes within 5 miles of annapolis. (ok, 26 when you subtract the one we started with).

>>> for z in matches: print,",",z.state,z.distance, "miles away"
21401 ANNAPOLIS, MD 0.0 miles away
21061 GLEN BURNIE, MD 0.3 miles away
20751 DEALE, MD 0.7 miles away
21122 PASADENA, MD 0.7 miles away
21037 EDGEWATER, MD 0.9 miles away
21062 GLEN BURNIE, MD 0.9 miles away
21098 HANOVER, MD 0.9 miles away
21123 PASADENA, MD 0.9 miles away
21404 ANNAPOLIS, MD 0.9 miles away
21411 ANNAPOLIS, MD 0.9 miles away
21412 ANNAPOLIS, MD 0.9 miles away
20764 SHADY SIDE, MD 1.1 miles away
21146 SEVERNA PARK, MD 1.1 miles away
21113 ODENTON, MD 1.3 miles away
21144 SEVERN, MD 1.3 miles away
21106 MAYO, MD 1.5 miles away
21077 HARMANS, MD 1.7 miles away
21108 MILLERSVILLE, MD 2.0 miles away
20776 HARWOOD, MD 2.4 miles away
21403 ANNAPOLIS, MD 3.0 miles away
20779 TRACYS LANDING, MD 3.2 miles away
20778 WEST RIVER, MD 3.4 miles away
20765 GALESVILLE, MD 3.5 miles away
21225 BROOKLYN, MD 3.5 miles away
21032 CROWNSVILLE, MD 3.7 miles away
21012 ARNOLD, MD 4.4 miles away
21140 RIVA, MD 4.5 miles away
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