What is Point-of-Interest (POI) Data & How to Use It

Find the best Point-of-Interest (POI) Data for your business. Compare data products and providers.

What is POI Data?

POI (Point of Interest) data is used to identify places by their use and function, as well as by their postal address or location. POI’s are demonstrated on online maps and give a quick, easy and accurate way to find important places and landmarks. A POI is a specific point location someone may find useful or interesting. Most consumers use the term when referring to hotels, campsites, fuel stations or any other categories used in modern vehicle navigation systems. Points of interest could be a milestone, an institute, a heritage site, or a corporate office. The most prevalent POI categories are, housing locations, eateries, fuel pumps, parking spaces, tourist attractions, etc. POIs can be both permanent like heritage sites/monuments and temporary like shops and restaurants that are movable in nature.

Who uses POI Data and for what use cases?

Digital maps for current GPS devices usually include a simple range of POIs for the map area. On the other hand, there are websites that concentrate on the collection, authentication, management and dissemination of POIs which end-users can load on their devices to replace or add-on to the existing POIs. Although some of these websites are universal, and will collect and classify POI for any purpose, others are more specific in a particular category (such as speed cameras) or GPS devices. End-users also have the capability to create their own custom POI Data collections.

Saleable POI collections, especially those that work with digital maps, or that are traded on a subscription basis are generally secured by copyrights. However, there are several websites from which royalty-free POI collections can be obtained easily. There are many ways in which POI data can be used, for example to find a destination if you are traveling via an unfamiliar route. In another example users can be provided with geolocation and time aware POI services that recommend geo locations nearby with a temporal relevance (e.g. ski resorts that are available only in winter).

Some examples of types of POI include:

  • Accommodation, eating and drinking
  • Commercial services
  • Attractions
  • Sport and entertainment
  • Education and health
  • Public infrastructure
  • Manufacturing and production
  • Retail
  • Transport

As an example, there are around 4 million POI’s across Great Britain that you can visit – for business and pleasure. Each point is classified into one of more than 600 types, so you can identify points by their use and function as well as by their postal address or location. POI data is very useful for insurance companies when assessing risks of individual buildings or for services companies wishing to plan their workload.

Some uses for POI data are:

  • Identify the type and purpose of different premises and what’s in the surrounding area for initial risk assessment.
  • Track, monitor and analyze changing retail space of city centres over time.
  • Show the range of services and facilities in a particular area, such as accommodation, eating and places of interest.
  • Locate competitor assets to assist better business planning.
  • Analyze organizations’ proximity and accessibility to employees, transport links and component suppliers
  • Link crime clusters to potential trouble spots.
  • Identify gaps in public service provision, such as doctors, dentists or public libraries.

POI data is crucial to advertising-campaign success. It’s not enough today for advertisers and marketers to be experts on their consumers buying habits. They also need to understand where campaign-relevant consumer and device activities occur. The data represents locations in the real world where mobile activity can be measured, such as stores, restaurants, tourist attractions and the like. When used with mobile-device and signal data, POI analytics offer additional context, allowing advertisers and marketers to best assess why consumers go where they go. As GPS-enabled devices, as well as software applications that use digital maps, become more available, it is becoming increasingly necessary for businesses to include data into their marketing strategies and planning in order to monitor competitors, stay competitive, connect better with customers and stay ahead of trends.

POI data helps businesses to uncover valuable insights and gain a competitive advantage. Businesses who use POI can better forecast the needs of their customers, their probability to visit competing stores and their buying power. They can track customer movements and then plan campaigns that are customized and conversion-driven.

What are typical POI Data attributes?

A POI is a human construct, describing what can be found at a location. As such a POI typically has a fine level of spatial granularity. It includes of the following attributes:

  • A name
  • A current Location
  • A category and/or type
  • A unique identifier
  • A URI
  • An address
  • (Contact information)

A POI is loosely coupled with a location, as a POI can move. When this occurs the previous location is removed and the POI is then coupled with its new Location. This can happen when the human activity at the POI relocates.

POI data has temporal boundaries; it starts when the human activity at that location commences and ends when human activity ceases, such as when a company or organization goes out of business.

How is POI Data typically collected?

POI data analytic systems collect data from open-source software and public map service to create interactive and powerful web map applications. The main sources of POI data collection are:

  1. field collection
  2. media platforms
  3. geocoding services
  4. voluntarily generated POI collection
  5. third-party POI services

All these methods have their advantages and disadvantages:

  • Field collection may cost a lot of manpower and financial resources and may have difficulty in collecting detailed and comprehensive data and information may not be updated regularly
  • POI data collected through media software has developed rapidly, but only focuses on collecting POI of a particular type and the accuracy of the POI is not validated
  • Geocoding can be efficient but cannot be validated for accuracy
  • Voluntarily generated POI collection also cannot be validated for accuracy
  • Third-party platforms, such as Google Maps, Streetmaps and so on, offer more reliable POI information, but do not explicitly open these services to the public

For these reasons, POI data providers use a range of the above collection methods to achieve accuracy.

How to assess the quality of POI Data?

Until recently, little attention has been paid to the quality of Point-of-interest (POI) Data. But as the uses of POI Data have become more sophisticated, so too have the methods of assessing quality. Various datasets can be used to provide a sound quality assessment of POI Data. POI Data accuracy and coverage can be assessed by using/comparing it to respective data, and its trend worthiness assessed by building statistical models that measure changes in real life i.e. the addition or deletion of a coffee shop node in close temporal proximity to the actual opening or closing of the coffee shop.

These steps can be taken to assess the quality of POI data:

  • Test the POI data for updating i.e. How soon does the POI data analytics system register a change of location, such as when a coffee house changes location
  • Test the POI data analytics system regularly for duplication and errors. This is particularly important for AI systems, as regular testing and adjustments will help the system to learn and make it even more efficient over time.

How is POI Data typically priced?

There are several ways to obtain POI Data. Typically, POI Data is obtained from free public amenities or by buying from a POI Data provider. There are plenty of POI Data providers to choose from. Which one or ones, to use, depends on your individual needs. With free data you will receive a list but it will not be customized. With POI Data purchased from a POI Data provider, you will be able to customize it to suit your individual needs.

For example, to look at some of the more popular POI data providers, OpenStreetMap is free to use under an open licence. You will have to organise and serve your map tiles yourself, but companies such as Mapquest will do this for you for free.

Tom Tom will supply unlimited maps and traffic display and 2500 API transactions per day for free. Businesses can buy bundles of credits for usage above this.

GoogleMaps also charges for usage over 2500 API transactions.

What are the common challenges when buying POI Data?

The quality of POI data differs depending on how the database is constructed and then maintained. The main challenges when buying POI Data are ensuring the accuracy and coverage are updated in a timely manner and that they can be used to capture trends. POI data is considered trend worthy if the relative rate of change in the number of POIs accurately reflects a change in the real world, while conceding that the number of POIs at any given time deviates from the actual number of POIs existing in the real world, i.e., actual coffee shops vs. coffee shop POIs recorded.

Shopping malls are a challenge for POI Data, as a shopping mall address lacks details of which stores the customer visited, how much time they spent there, and frequency of visits. Adding information from Wifi hotspots can help to increase the accuracy of such data sets.

Stores and amenities sometimes move, creating out-of-date POI Data. For now, the best way remains to counteract these challenges is to use several good quality POI Data providers that regularly update the databases they offer.

What to ask POI Data providers?

There are several questions that businesses may want to ask POI Data providers, such as:

  • How often is the POI Data updated?
  • Can it be customized for my business needs? (dataset enrichment)
  • Can the datasets be integrated with my current business technologies?
  • Does it have a deduping (removing redundant or duplicate entries) system?

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