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Geo Library for Amazon DynamoDB

The Geo Library for Amazon DynamoDB enables Java developers to easily create and query geospatial data. The library takes care of managing the geohash indexes required for fast and efficient execution of location-based queries over a table of items representing points of interest - latitude/longitude pairs.

Along with this library we provide sample applications demonstrating usage of the library for a cloud-backed mobile app development scenario. You can get up and running quickly with a sample AWS ElasticBeanstalk application and a sample iOS project.

API Reference

Geo Library for Amazon DynamoDB Javadoc


  • Box Queries: Return all of the items that fall within a pair of geo points that define a rectangle as projected onto a sphere.
  • Radius Queries: Return all of the items that are within a given radius of a geo point.
  • Basic CRUD Operations: Create, retrieve, update, and delete geospatial data items.
  • Easy Integration: Adds functionality to the AWS SDK for Java in your server application.
  • Customizable: Access to raw request and result objects from the AWS SDK for Java.

Getting Started

Setup Environment

  1. Sign up for AWS - Before you begin, you need an AWS account. Please see the AWS Account and Credentials section of the developer guide for information about how to create an AWS account and retrieve your AWS credentials.
  2. Minimum Java requirements - To run the SDK you will need Java 1.6+. We strongly recommend Java 6 Update 24 at the minimum to mitigate the parseDouble DoS attacks. For more information about the requirements and optimum settings for the SDK, please see the Java Development Environment section of the developer guide.
  3. Minimum iOS requirements - The sample iOS app supports iOS 5 and above.
  4. Download Geo Library for Amazon DynamoDB - To download the code from GitHub, simply clone the repository by typing: git clone

Run the Sample Server App

  1. Go to AWS Management Console and select ElasticBeanstalk.
  2. Click Create a New Application.
  3. Specify Application name and click Create.
  4. Make sure Launch a new environment running this application is selected.
  5. Select Tomcat for Predefined configuration. Environment type can be either Loadbalancing, autoscaling or Single instance. Then click Continue.
  6. Select Upload your own for Source. Click Browse and select /samples/dynamodb-geo-server/dynamodb-geo-server.war. Then click Continue.
  7. Choose your Environment name and Environment URL. Then click Continue.
  8. Make sure Create an RDS DB Instance with this environment is NOT checked. Then click Continue.
  9. Accept the default values for Configuration Details and click Continue.
  10. Review the information and click Create.
  11. Wait until Health becomes Green. This may take a few minutes.
  12. Select Configuration > Software Configuration.
  13. Under Environment Properties, type your AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID and AWS_SECRET_KEY.
  14. Type your DynamoDB table name for PARAM1 (e.g. geo-test). Make sure you do NOT already have a table with the same name.
  15. Type your DynamoDB region name for PARAM2 (e.g. us-west-2). For the full list of regions, please read Regions and Endpoints.
  16. Click Save.
  17. Click on Dashboard and wait until Health becomes Green. This may take a few minutes.
  18. Open your URL (e.g. NOTE: For security reasons, we strongly encourage developers to use https endpoints on ElasticBeanstalk. Please read Configuring HTTPS for your AWS Elastic Beanstalk Environment for more details.
  19. The status on the website will change as follows: preparing to start > creating a table > inserting test data into the table > running.
  20. Wait until the website says Congratulations! Geo Library for Amazon DynamoDB Sample Server is running. This may take 10 to 20 minutes.

Run the Sample iOS App

  1. Open the Xcode project under samples/dynamodb-geo-ios/dynamodb-geo-ios.xcodeproj.
  2. Open AWSConstants.m.
  3. Update YOUR-ENVIRONMENT part of with your actual environment URL.
  4. Click Run on Xcode to run the sample iOS app.

Building From Source

Once you check out the code from GitHub, you can build it using Maven: mvn package


Java focused

Internally, Geo Library uses the S2 Geometry Library for spherical math, and the library is available only in Java and C++. For now, we are focusing on Java, and we don't have short term plans to port Geo Library for other languages.

No composite key support

Currently, the library does not support composite keys. You may want to add tags such as restaurant, bar, and coffee shop, and search locations of a specific category; however, it is currently not possible. You need to create a table for each tag and store the items separately.

Queries retrieve all paginated data

Although low level DynamoDB Query requests return paginated results, this library automatically pages through the entire result set. When querying a large area with many points, a lot of Read Capacity Units may be consumed.

More Read Capacity Units

The library retrieves candidate Geo points from the cells that intersect the requested bounds. The library then post-processes the candidate data, filtering out the specific points that are outside the requested bounds. Therefore, the consumed Read Capacity Units will be higher than the final results dataset.

High memory consumption

Because all paginated Query results are loaded into memory and processed, it may consume substantial amounts of memory for large datasets.

The server is essential

Because Geo Library calls multiple DynamoDB Query requests and processes the results in memory, it is not suitable for mobile device use. You should maintain a Java server, and use the library on the server.

Dataset density limitation

The Geohash used in this library is roughly centimeter precision. Therefore, the library is not suitable if your dataset has much higher density.


Amazon DynamoDB

AWS ElasticBeanstalk

Mobile Development

Java Development