NEW: maps of known sites now available for the coterminous USA, Europe, and the world.
The Internet is considered by some to make geographic location irrelevant; resources on the Internet are accessed in the same way whether they reside on a server in the next room, or are hosted on the far side of the globe. However, geography still has an effect on the Internet; intercontinental connections are often bandwidth-limited, and while some parts of the world show strong Internet growth, others lag behind for logistical (and political) reasons.
Internet research projects may use geographical and other data to understand Internet usage patterns and infrastructure issues. To design WWW caching hierarchies, server mirroring arrangements, or the location of new ISP peering points it is often necessary to consider the geographic spread of the Internet usage base (as a simple example, the Internet sees a daily usage peak that begins when the US East Coast starts their workday).
The DNS LOC (location) resource record is designed to make this data available. Using the distributed nature of the Domain Name System, it allows individual organizations to manage their own latitude and longitude information (including the use of deliberately imprecise data when needed for security reasons), while making the data available to all who need it without requiring a single point of failure hosting a large database of location information.
For a simple example of what can be done with the DNS LOC record, try LOC to Maps. This is also useful for testing newly installed LOC records to check their validity (and reachability).