Hack 32. Locate a Phone Number

Perform reverse lookups with Google Phonebook and Google Maps.

Have a phone number, but you don't know where it originates? You can use Google to get an address, and then Google Maps to pinpoint it. Your search engine is a phone book? Why not? Phone numbers are just another thing that can be searched on!

When you enter a phone number into the search box on http://google.com, the first link is to the Google Phonebook (assuming that the number is found). For example, doing a search on the U.S. phone number (707) 827-7000 brings up the results shown in Figure 4-13. The Google phone book is very forgiving. You can search for 707 827-7000 or 707-827-7000 or even 7078277000 and Phonebook will still work.

Interestingly enough, you can't search for a phone number directly through the Google Maps search box: you have to go through the regular Google Search first!

Figure 4-13. Google Phonebook results for (707) 827-7000

The Google Phonebook is mapping-service agnostic, showing links to this address in Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, and MapQuest. If you click on the Google Maps link, you can do a local search for something common, such as pizza, and then click on "Link to this page" near the top right of the page to get a page like Figure 4-14.

The point isn't to get information on pizza, but to show that when you click on "Link to this page," Google Maps loads the URL for the current map in your browser. That URL includes the latitude and longitude of the center of your search area as the sll parameter, which stands for search lat/long. Look at the address bar in Figure 4-14, and you can see the URL query string ?q=pizza&sll=38.411170,-122.841720. So, phone number (707) 827-7000 is located at 38.411170 N, 122.841720 W. That location isn't perfect, but it is pretty darn good. See "Inside Google Maps URLs" [Hack #7] for more on the structure of Google Maps URLs.

Figure 4-14. Pizza near (707) 827-7000

Another thing to note about that original Google search for the phone number in Figure 4-13, is that a search for a phone number also does a standard Google search. This can be interesting because it pulls things up in a new way. The first Google link for O'Reilly's phone number is a Road Warrior's Christmas list. Who would have thought that?

Reverse lookup availability appears to vary over time. At one point, a reverse lookup on my home phone number pulled up my street address. As of this writing, it just returns the city and ZIP Code. Other residential phone numbers that I've tested still work, and business listings still pull up a full address.

You Are Here: Introducing Google Maps

Introducing the Google Maps API

Mashing Up Google Maps

On the Road with Google Maps

Google Maps in Words and Pictures

API Tips and Tricks

Extreme Google Maps Hacks

Google Maps Hacks
Google Maps Hacks: Tips & Tools for Geographic Searching and Remixing
ISBN: 0596101619
EAN: 2147483647
Year: N/A
Pages: 131

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