Who’s on First at Stanford

Stanford record in Who's on Frist

Here at the Stanford Libraries, we are a big fan of Who’s on First. While the comedy routine by Abbott and Costello is pretty good, here we are talking about the gazetteer project Who’s on First created by the team at Mapzen. The Who’s on First (WoF) gazetteer is a “big list of places” comprising one of the largest and richest compilations of Open and permissively licensed geospatial data. WoF effectively links and works with other gazetteers in a novel approach. Additionally these links provide ways to access geometry for places in a way never possible before. This is exciting for libraries and our partner cultural heritage communities as it opens up new sources and instances of data that we can use.

Stanford record in Who's on Frist

Unfortunately, Mapzen ceased operations at the beginning of 2018. However, they designed the Who’s on First project in a way where it can live on for the future. Here at Stanford, we have started taking steps to provide long term access to Who’s on First data and to start using the data within the Stanford Libraries.

A snapshot of WoF data is now accessible from the Stanford Digital Repository at https://purl.stanford.edu/sn083yt5143 and discoverable from our library catalog at https://searchworks.stanford.edu/view/sn083yt5143. We aim to update these snapshots as the data changes and enhancements are added.

Stanford Libraries’ software engineers are also looking into ways that WoF data can be integrated into search and discovery infrastructure for enhancing user experience and providing better search results. WoF has a rich set of relations and concordances with other datasets that we hope to use. At the same time, work is taking place in other parts of campus on how Who’s on First data can aid research projects.

The Stanford Geospatial Center, in supporting the Outbreak Responder Project, is looking to WoF and it’s supporting infrastructure as a simple means of ingesting hierarchical administrative boundary and placename data for responding to infectious disease outbreaks in locations other than their pilot sites in Bangladesh.

Do you have other ideas about how Who’s on First could be used at Stanford? We would love to hear from you. You can share your ideas with whosonfirst@lists.stanford.edu.