Foursquare just released what it dubbed the Rosetta Stone of location venues — opening its venue API for developers with very few limits. This clearly gets them deep into what a company called Locationary already does. What’s Locationary? Glad you asked.
Below is a little Q&A with the company’s CEO but first a bit about the news from foursquare. On their blog this week foursquare posted the following, contending there is no “Rosetta Stone for location” and that their “venue harmonization” would solve this.
Building a Venue map
But this is just the start of making location as easy as possible to integrate. One huge part of the Venues Project, which we’ve now made some headway on, is building a comprehensive Venue Harmonization Map. Right now, there’s no Rosetta Stone for location, allowing you to link information about a real-world place from one database to any other. For instance, if you look up a restaurant in the foursquare API, we give you our ID number for that location. But if you were to look up the same restaurant in The New York Times or MenuPages , they’d have a different ID number in their database. The Venue Harmonization Map aims to solve that, by translating those numbers so that you only have to look up the ID once. So, for instance, if you know the URL of a restaurant on Thrillist, you can find that same restaurant in our database. And the other way works, too! (Here’s an example.) The goal of foursquare’s Venue Harmonization Map is to translate between these databases, making it easier to create mash-ups, link to pages on other sites, or add foursquare widgets like “Add to foursquare” to publisher sites.
All cool. But a question one could ask is why not use an existing harmonizer. In fact I asked Locationary CEO Grant Ritchie about it. He’s not looking to make waves (damn) and instead chose to focus on what his company does:
What makes Locationary unique in this industry is that our community focuses on finding and fixing errors in local business data and building deep, quality profiles. Locationary is now the largest and most active crowd-sourced data cleaning system. We’re up to over 23 million business profiles, averaging 250,000 updates a day from our community. In terms of “venue mappings,” we have a headstart and an better approach.
Approximately 9 million places in our system are already mapped to various top sites including Google, Bing, Citysearch, Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook, etc. We also use human verification to make sure we get it right which is something nobody else does. We specialize because we know accurate data is not something that just happens when your community is doing something else. This story’s not over, more than likely. Meantime, more about Locationary and their CEO.
This is the tenth in a series of Q&As with leaders / up-and-comers in the local space.
Who he is: Grant Ritchie, CEO ofLocationary
What he does: A serial entrepreneur, Ritchie is a lawyer and technologist whose day-to-day includes providing Locationary oversight, guidance and direction over operations and technology systems. Prior to Locationary, Grant was a commercial and technology lawyer at a large Toronto firm and was part of the founding team that built and launched several online businesses including Moola.com (a game network with over 430,000 registered members) and CanadianHotelGuide.com.
Describe Locationary as if a friend’s mother asked, “So what is this Locationary?
When people search for local business info online, they are often disappointed. Search engines and mobile apps often have inaccurate details, aren’t updated quickly when new businesses open, or list businesses that are closed for renovations or have gone out of business and closed. This problem is caused by relying on data that has been copied from old yellow pages directories (and can be over a year old).
Locationary is a new system to collect and distribute the latest information on local businesses using the Internet. Instead of relying on the old yellow page directories, Locationary relies on the business owners and Locationary’s community of editors around the world who update the system online and through mobile devices. Our editors are everyday people who get rewarded with cash and prizes for spotting new businesses and fixing errors. Like an open-source project, Locationary distributes its core data for free to ensure that every search engine and mobile app has the latest and most accurate information.
If you were not involved with Locationary which service would you use to satisfy your needs?
Unfortunately, if Locationary were not around, you would be have to buy data from one of the large data aggregators. These companies grab the yellow pages directories off the curb across North America and send them overseas to be retyped in their databases. Then thousands of employees call the millions of businesses once a year to find out it if anything has changed. It’s very expensive and time-consuming process and that’s reflected in the price you have to pay for the data.
Why should people use your product over, say, watching a ball game, reading to their kids or taking a walk?
People should join Locationary and become editors for their local community because it’s fun! They help make the Internet better and they get rewarded for their efforts. It’s a bit like Monopoly, but for real. Our editors earn “shares” in the place profiles they update and get a portion of the revenue that Locationary makes from data they’ve added. Editors also earn prizes for making great finds. Many editors win $50 or more per day entering information from home or on the go.
Tease us with a hint of what’s in your pipeline product / content wise (and give us something real!)
Locationary is currently in test trials with various online companies to help them gather information to make their mobile apps better. Locationary’s system dispatches our editors on “missions” to find specific types of places or info in various cities around the world. It’s a great way of rewarding locals for sharing what they know to make the online search experience better.
Your smartphone will access everything instantly — prices, inventories, trends, what’s hot — all tailored to you. OR from a local business owner’s perspective: Business owners will instantly broadcast everything about their business to every website and mobile app.