Does your organization provide services in the community regularly? Do you have regular routes of sites to visit: neighborhood elderly, community centers, or even regular errand runs? There are many situations when a local nonprofit or community organization needs to plan a logical route between multiple locations in a city or region. But what's the most efficient route when you have several - or a dozen - sites to visit?
In the computer science world, this is a classic computational challenge that programmers have long studied, referred to as the "traveling salesman problem" because of its original context: given the distances between each city, what is the most efficient route between a number of cities, so that you visit each city once and only once?
"The GeoNames geographical database is available for download free of charge under a creative commons attribution license. It contains over eight million geographical names and consists of 6.5 million unique features whereof 2.2 million populated places and 1.8 million alternate names. All features are categorized into one out of nine feature classes and further subcategorized into one out of 645 feature codes. The data is accessible free of charge through a number of webservices and a daily database export. GeoNames is already serving up to over 11 million web service requests per day. "