Point-of-Interest (POI) data is instrumental in facilitating the operations of businesses such as food and last-mile delivery companies, those that develop mapping and navigation software, ridesharing companies, and many others. In other industries, such data is harnessed to derive insights to inform decision-making around site selection and supply chain optimisation.
However, procuring good quality POI data is a significant challenge.
Businesses that know about the potential advantages associated with leveraging accurate POI data have a few options to choose from, including desk work and web scraping, legacy crowdsourcing platforms like Foursquare, and managed services like hiring a local team of surveyors. While each of these options has strengths, they also have significant weaknesses that cannot be overstated.
We developed the service model of our POI offering after thoroughly examining the market for POI solutions and talking to the biggest companies in the world. As such, we believe it is worthwhile to evaluate and compare the different mechanisms employed to generate POI datasets so that businesses can identify the solution that suits them best.
Desk work / Web scraping
In this method, software is utilised to extract content and data from websites. As the focus is POI data, such software is used to crawl websites with vast POI repositories like Google Maps or OpenStreetMaps and retrieve relevant information. These scraping algorithms are never perfect, so the method also requires a lot of manual effort in cleansing and normalizing the data.
The biggest advantage of desk work is its speed: it can be used to gather a large amount of data reasonably quickly, and at a competitive price. However, it also has drawbacks that are hard to mitigate.
Web scraping collects basic information about POIs like their name and address, but it seldom retrieves advanced attributes like opening hours, and never includes custom ones which would be the most beneficial for specific use cases. These custom attributes might include the exact location of drop-off and pick-up points in a shopping mall, loading areas used in logistics, or shopfront photos.
The biggest problem with this method, however, is the lack of quality assurance and on-ground verification. Online databases are full of erroneous information, which is carried over to new datasets. Recency of data is also contingent on how frequently online maps are updated.
Moreover, the data sets can only be compliant with privacy regulations if the original source takes the appropriate steps to filter out Personally Identifiable Information.
Legacy crowdsourcing platforms (e.g., Foursquare)
Crowdsourcing platforms for POI data rely on the input of a vast number of individuals who are not paid for their work. The most well-known is Foursquare, where users can add their own favourite places and compete for “mayorships”.
While POI data collected this way is verified on the ground, the issues with this method are plenty and obvious.
Crowdsourced datasets are notoriously polluted. Users lack the incentives to provide accurate information. As a result, miscategorisation and the presence of non-existent places is quite common. Furthermore, this solution only covers basic attributes but does not offer any custom attributes and rarely contains advanced attributes for POIs (as such fields are optional for the user).
Legacy crowdsourcing is impossible to scale on-demand if the company does not have enough data in your area of interest.
Companies who need advanced or completely custom POI metadata for their operations inevitably turn to managed services, hiring local teams of surveyors.
The solution can offer all types of attributes, together with on the ground quality assurance and verification.
However, managed services are hard to scale, and they only provide a snapshot of the truth on the ground. While it is possible to set up a Data-as-a-Service contract with a surveyor company, therefore receiving continuously refreshed data, this can be prohibitively costly.
Lastly, managed services typically cover a smaller area, like a few bigger cities. It can be challenging to reach geographical or category completeness with this method.
Geolancer is Quadrant’s proprietary manual POI collection and verification platform. With Geolancer, we are directly addressing the weaknesses of the legacy crowdsourcing and managed services models, creating a rapidly scalable, accurate, and customizable service that is designed to provide continuously fresh data to our customers.
The core of the platform is a mobile app, rewarding users for collecting and verifying Points-of-Interest on the ground. These users – Geolancers – continuously collect data and can also be mobilised to work on custom projects, on any client brief. With the app, we can gather any type of arbitrary information about POIs like special coordinates, dietary restrictions in a restaurant, plug types on an electric vehicle charging station, street view photos of condominiums, and more.
Every single POI in our database is verified at least twice, first by another Geolancer, then by our experienced admin team. We also periodically re-verify every POI to ensure the recency of our data.
We have a two-step process for the removal of Personally Identifiable Information, which consists of an AI based blurring algorithm and manual cleansing to ensure our data is compliant with privacy frameworks.
The most important difference between Geolancer and managed services are scalability and speed. As Geolancers are continuously collecting data, it only takes a few tweaks in incentives to rapidly redirect their focus to a particular category or area. Lastly, Geolancer is very competitive in pricing thanks to the flexible licensing options.
We are on a mission to remap the world and intend to equip companies with up-to-date, cost-effective, scalable, and high-quality POI data so that they can reduce costs and optimise operations – thereby securing a competitive advantage.
If you want to learn more about Geolancer and how it can provide you with the business intelligence you need, fill out the form below and one of our POI data consultants will get in touch with you soon.