Getting free routing data for the UK

I wrote this week about my new Android app, which checks for road traffic problems affecting UK routes. I mentioned that it wasn’t ready for release yet, because there are a few admin issues that I need to sort.

One of the problems is in how I get the routing data.

The app relies on comparing the locations of traffic problems with the user’s route.

Getting the location of traffic problems isn’t too hard as there are feeds from the Highways Agency and the BBC that offer that.

But getting a detailed description of a route between two places, in a format that I can use to compare against the traffic problems, proved harder.

I tried a few places, such as:

native Android API
There is a maps and geolocation API in Android, but it doesn’t include any routing abilities. (I found a couple of forum posts that suggest that there used to be, but they were removed?)

Google Maps API
I found the documentation for Google’s APIs quite obtuse. I couldn’t find a REST or HTTP API for calculating routes. The JavaScript API doesn’t look like it returns information in quite the format I require, and I couldn’t see a straightforward way of accessing it from an Android Java client. I might have to come back to this, though!

Multimap Open API
They have an API that would be ideal for my purposes – technically, the closest fit for my needs for a few boring technical reasons. But the terms of use say that it “may not be used as part of a mobile or wireless service”. Damn.

They have a good routing API, and this is the one that the app currently uses. But, my free API key limits me to making 5000 requests per month. That’s not 5000 requests per user – it’s 5000 requests in total for all users of my app. If I want more, I’d have to pay. This might be enough… I’m not sure. It’d depend on how many users I end up with.

That said, their developer site does say “If you are doing something really cool and you absolutely need more access to these services please get in touch รขโ‚ฌโ€œ we want to help your innovation”. I’ve emailed them to ask. I wonder if they would think my app is really cool? ๐Ÿ™‚

Watch this space.

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5 Responses to “Getting free routing data for the UK”

  1. […] | Recent Posts | Pages « Getting free routing data for the UK | What are our rights while stranded abroad? […]

  2. sabre23t says:

    Hi Dale,

    For my part of the world Cloudmade base map data from OSM isn’t well developed. In Malaysia the best routing data is not from OSM, GoogleMaps, or Multimap. The best routing data is from amateur produced weekly maps in Garmin IMG format, mainly produced using the free cGPSMapper compiler. See either or

    Have you looked at using routing information from Garmin IMG format, stored locally on the mobile? I understand OSM map data is also available in Garmin IMG format via mkgmap. Using offline map data has its advantages.

    sabre23t =^.^=

  3. dale says:

    Heya. Thanks very much for the comment.

    I guess the quality of OSM data will vary by country, but for my purposes (a UK-only app), it seems pretty detailed.

    Are there routing algorithms available for map data in the garmin format? Getting hold of maps hasn’t been a problem, it’s the routing service which is hard to get for free.

    Kind regards, D

  4. Dimuthu says:

    Hi, Your work is very interesting. Recently I started a project may be same as yours but not as an application but as a Mobile web site. For the moment Im working on the web site. I just use the google api v3 the latest. It also supports the mobile web sites better than previous with dynamic feature.

    Im still in the early ages of the project and your information on the project is really relevant to me as well. Hoping to here from u soon.

    Best regards


  5. dale says:

    Dimuthu – Thanks for the comment. Best of luck with your project – look forward to seeing it. Kind regards, D