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PHP/MySQL List of university coordinates

Posted by: admin July 12, 2020 Leave a comment


I am trying to get the user’s coordinates and get a short list of the nearest universities in the area.

So my initial thoughts were to populate my own MySQL with a heck of a lot of universities and coordinates, so I can use a searching algorithm to match the closest handful of universities with the data in my database.

Is that realistic to accomplish? To find a list of all universities, I have looked at: this question, and when I went to the site, it seemed like the files were exported as .uid? I’m not sure how to deal with this. Also, if I have a list of universities, how can I get the coordinates of them? Would geocoder work? If it’s possible I would also like a list of high schools, but ignore that for now.

What do you think? Am I missing something? Is there a more efficient way to get a list of the closest universities to a user?

How to&Answers:

If you have the list of all universities with its address, you can use The Google Geocoding API https://developers.google.com/maps/documentation/geocoding/ to retrieve the coordinates. You can write a script that fill a table of a database with the information.


I’ve found this site: http://www.a2zcolleges.com/address_phone/addressindex.htm, perhaps it may help.


Have you tried looking at the Google Maps API? Perhaps you could do a search for universities, then parse the results.

Looks like you could do a Place Search, then use a Place Type of university.


could you get away with just the latitude/longitude of the city a university is in, or is this for a local search where +/- a mile or 2 matters? Maxmind offers a free database of city coordintates you could cross reference against a list of universities by city

Maxmind world cities


Here is a list of US zipcode long/lat coordinates you can use to cross reference with the university address csv database link I posted in the comment above. If you need international mailing codes, they have several good links on the maxmind postal codes section

US Zip Codes


The Google Geocoding API has usage limits, I believe. I have retrieved geo coordinates for colleges in bulk in two ways. The first is complicated and only mentioned for posterity.

(1) This way uses a very circuitous process that involves OpenRefine (http://openrefine.org/) — formerly Google Refine. It needs Java on your computer (Windows, Mac, Linux) to run. But because this is complex, all I’m going to say is that you need to:

  • (a) add the dbpedia.org reconciliation service in OpenRefine;
  • (b) run a reconciliation on your colleges list using the schema
  • (c) retrieve the dbpedia url from the reconciled column;
  • (d) convert the url to the .json version;
  • (e) run a “fetch urls” using the .json URLs;
  • (f) Parse the results for the coordinates using the GREL functions
    built-in (or Jython).

You can see how circuitous it is, but it suits me because I use OpenRefine daily.

(2) The less circuitous route is to run a SPARQL query directly on dbpedia.org using your colleges list. However, SPARQL is an acquired taste, with potentially confusing syntax. I had to do a lot of reading and hit-and-miss testing before getting it right.

Now, just to tie this altogether, dbpedia.org is the structured equivalent of wikipedia.org. You might sneer at that, but when it comes to college / university entries, some of the basic information is usually very accurate — and that includes geo coordinates, established date, location, website, etc.