Searching by location in Drupal

There have been great improvements to search in Drupal 4.7 including the ability to extend it to search content from different modules. What I'd like to do is incorporate location into the search (instead of being a separate tab as it presently is using the location.module), allowing people to type their search text, choose which node types they'd like to search and then type in the name of a place (eg a city) they'd like to search near to.

To simplify the input, the new AJAX autocomplete functionality could be used to suggest places based on the name you're typing in. The co-ordinates of this place could then be used to filter the nodes that were returned from the search and allow for the ordering of search results by distance if desired.

I'm conscious that a search screen should be as simple as possible, but think this would be a useful addition for people who wanted to search for things by location. Perhaps allowing people to type '[searchstring] near Stuttgart, Germany' would be a better way of allowing location based searching. The autocomplete could still be used for that as well, by autocompleting only the bits after a 'near' statement.

Any input from the community is welcome, including thoughts on the interface and on how the back end hooks in the search system may best be put into place.