Expanding Restaurants Extended Attributes Data Coverage to France, Germany, and Australia

Today we are excited to announce the expansion of our Restaurants Extended Attributes data to include France, Germany, and Australia. While our Global Places data has always covered restaurants around the world, the 43 additional restaurant specific attributes in our Restaurants Extended Attributes data were previously only available in the United States and the United Kingdom. The new France, Germany, and Australia data boasts highlights such as:

  • Data on 300,000+ restaurants in France, 170,000+ in Germany, and 100,000+ in Australia.
  • 43 restaurant specific attributes1, covering everything you need to know about a restaurant, including:
    • Cuisine types and meal types.
    • Ratings and price ranges.
    • Alcohol policies.
    • Good for kids and if it has a kids menu.
    • Parking information.
    • Smoking policy.
    • Payment options.
    • See the schema for the complete attribute list.
  • Synced with Global Places- core attributes and Factual IDs match those in Global Places.

So whether you’re in Berlin with your family and looking for a restaurant that’s “Good for Kids”, in Marseille and interested in Provençal cuisine, or in Melbourne for the holidays and in need of some ice cream, our restaurants data has you covered.

You can explore all of our Restaurants Extended Attributes data (US, UK, France, Germany, Australia) on our site, you can get an API key to access it programmatically, or you can request a download to host the data yourself.

– Vikas Gupta, Director of Marketing and Operations

Notes:

1. Coverage across attributes varies, but will improve over time.

“Do you really know your consumer? The art and science of location data.” – Tyler Bell [Video]

Last week Factual VP of Product, Tyler Bell, spoke with VentureBeat about the vast increases in location data points brought about by mobile devices and wealth of insight we can gain from them. Watch the full interview to hear Tyler talk about “fundamentally knowing your user” by understanding their location data, providing timely and relevant content, and his thoughts about the exciting possibilities in the future of mobile.

Factual Featured Partner: 2GIS

Last month, we talked with Gregg Hammerman of Larky about using location data to save money. Today, we bring you an interview with Evgeny Ponomarev about mobile calling app 2GIS Dialer.

Company Name: 2GIS
Products: 2GIS Dialer, 2GIS for Browsers
Located: Novosibirsk, Russia
Factual Partner Since: 2014
Website: www.apps.2gis.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/2gis.ru
Twitter: @2GIS
YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/2GISvideo
App Store Listing(s): Google Play
Your Name and Title: Evgeny Ponomarev, Product Manager

 
Q: Introduce readers to 2GIS. What does your app do?
A: 2GIS helps to navigate the city. But it’s not a navigation app, it’s a business directory with a detailed 3D-map. It has a lot of useful information about companies, such as exact addresses, phone numbers, working hours and so on. In the process of developing of 2GIS we decided to create a new app, based on our data about companies, for identifying and making calls. We called it 2GIS Dialer. With the help of this product you can easily find the phone number of any organization in your city and make a call. Of course, you can also find out who is calling – and from what company.

2GIS Dialer can be linked with 2GIS as a Browser extension, which shows contacts, reviews and ratings about any company based on its phone number or domain name.

Q: Why is Factual location data important for 2GIS?
A: We have our own database in more than 250 cities in eight countries, but the browser version of 2GIS Dialer and 2GIS became available worldwide. We need local data about other cities that we dont cover now. Thanks to Factual we have that data.

Q: What was the inspiration for 2GIS? How did you get started?
A: We wanted to discover a simple and convenient way to navigate the city. Finally we did it with the map and business directory, which is free for users.

Our history began in the 90s. At that time we made complex map products for special purposes – our customers were telephone operators and a railway company. For one of our customers we created a digital map of the city of Novosibirsk – third largest city in Russia after Moscow and Saint Petersburg. We were the first to make one and got official permission to use it. It wasn’t easy to get all the necessary paperwork, so why not to make a map for the people?

We started without any of the complicated special data that we were adding for our business customers before. Only information that can be useful for ordinary people every day-– buildings, streets, points of interest. This product was available only for PC because there were neither smartphones nor tablets. We tried to sell it, but quickly realized that it was impossible-– there were many hackers in Russia that could make software available for free.

For some time we were developing our service just for the future, as we did not know how to make it profitable. Meanwhile, many people became our users; they appreciated the quality of the map, which was available for free. In addition, the economic crisis of 1998 in Russia forced our customers to refuse our special products because they had suddenly realized that our free app for PC was quite enough for their needs. The founder of 2GIS, Alexander Sysoev, came up with an idea to make money by selling advertisements in our service. It was a fateful decision that gave 2GIS an opportunity to grow and become successful. Now we cover more than 250 cities in eight countries.

Q: There is so much data available on businesses today; it seems like the action now is to structure and distribute that data so people can find what they are looking for with apps like 2GIS. What’s the next step after this (i.e. suggesting places before users search for them)?
A: Suggesting something before users search for it is a good idea and it already works in 2GIS Dialer. For example, our app suggests a phone number to the user depending on call history and places that he or she has been. I think that a dialer is all about calls. The main task of these apps is to make communication between people and companies convenient. We are going to develop our product and add features to make communication easier by suggesting useful information before a call. For instance, if you are going to make a call to your friend, 2GIS can show information like if your friend is driving now or he or she is in international roaming. It will allow users to reach their friends in more comfortable circumstances. If you are calling a company, 2GIS Dialer can show whether it is currently open or closed.

Q: What new or improved mobile technology would you like to see in the future? Are there any technological limitations that you face with your current app?
A: I would say significant restrictions from mobile operation systems’ developers. We had to make 2GIS Dialer for Android only because iOS and Windows Phone do not allow third-party apps for calls to replace an internal one. Now we see positive changes in the policies of Apple giving developers more freedom, and so I suppose the problem of limitations will be solved in the future.

Q: How do you see your app being used in the next 5 years? The next 10?
A: We hope our app will improve phone communications that had been stuck in the past when there were not any smartphones. We want to make this communication easier, more comfortable, and safer, without unknown numbers.

Q: What’s a great feature about 2GIS that users aren’t taking advantage of?
A: Most users know our general advantages are connected with up-to-date information about companies and detailed map. But they might not know about 2GIS Dialer and 2GIS for Browsers since we launched these products recently. It’s a new opportunity to save time on surfing the Internet and searching.

Q: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting 2GIS?
A: You have more opportunities to succeed when you open a new business sphere. 2GIS was the first digital map in Novosibirsk and I suppose in Russia. Also we became the first who had learned how to make money on maps and business directories. 2GIS Dialer and 2GIS for browsers are only the beginning. Our dialer is not the first app for making and identifying calls but it has some significant advantages that should attract users. As for 2GIS for Browsers, it’s the first extension of such a kind and I hope users will appreciate it.

Q: What advice do you have for app developers?
A: All developers have their own ideas and circumstances in which they work, therefore it’s difficult to give everyone really useful advice. I think the main idea for everyone was in a quote by Steve Jobs in his famous speech at Stanford, “stay hungry, stay foolish.”

Ten years of OpenStreetMap

Note: This was originally posted on O’Reilly Radar on 8/15/14, available here.

Next to GPS, the most significant development in the Open Geo Data movement is OpenStreetMap (OSM), a community-driven mapping project whose goal is to create the most detailed, correct, and current open map of the world. This week, OSM celebrates its 10th birthday, which provides a convenient excuse to highlight why its achievements to-date are amazing, unusual, and promising in equal parts.

When the project was begun by Steve Coast in 2004, map data sources were few, and largely controlled by a small collection of private and governmental players. The scarcity of map data ensured that it remained both expensive and highly restrictive, and no one but the largest navigation companies could use map data. Steve changed the rules by creating a wiki-like resource of the entire globe, which everyone could use without hinderance.

The magic of OSM’s early success was not just its timeliness — GPS was becoming affordable, storage was increasingly cheap, and the iPhone was around the corner — but its provision of a read-write canvas where emerging mapping enthusiasts could convert their frustration into action. Maps, of course, are intimately personal, but also overtly political: as a true, citizens’ map of the world, OSM could address that particular paradox — no longer were mapping resources allocated by revenue potential; instead, all one needed was time and a computer connection to add data about their country or their neighborhood.

The communal ethos underlying OSM is much more than a feel-good potlatch: the federated nature of the project provides individuals the means to ensure their communities are represented and made real — such as the mapping efforts in Haiti to assist humanitarian relief, or the efforts focused on China and other countries where some believe that a map of the planet should exist independent of government oversight or permission. These projects, and hundreds like them, are not the efforts of OpenStreetMap; rather, OSM provides the mechanism for individuals and organizations to contribute for their own reasons, on their own terms.

“Did you win your sword fight?”

“Of course I won the sword fight,” Hiro says. “I’m the greatest sword fighter in the world.”

“And you wrote the software.”

“Yeah. That, too,” Hiro says.

– Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

The street maps of OSM were never intended to be perfect out of the gate, and this incremental approach remains a big part of the simple magic underlying the project’s success. For early OSM enthusiasts, “good enough” was a feature, not a bug; it was also a means, not an end. This unspoken, shared belief system is an artifact of OSMers’ scientific faith in the future of The Map, and belief that it will — due to its openness and decentralization — eventually, be the best map on the planet. For OSM enthusiasts, the question is not “how good is it now?,” but rather “how good can it be, how soon?” The answers always are “the best” and “as soon as possible,” respectively.

This confidence in The Map is not simply faith over experience. Although you rarely hear the term “velocity of a map,” OSM has a significant speed and direction that justifies the metaphor: two excellent retrospectives best illustrating its rate of enhancement are the Ten Years of Edits video (1:36), where entire countries spring into existence on the rotating globe in elapsed milliseconds, and Martijn van Exel’s more interactive OSM Then-and-Now map that turns the entire world into a split-screen showing the state of OSM in 2007 on the left and 2014 on the right. For a more external, complementary assessment, Geofabrik provides an excellent comparative tool where OSM data can be show against Bing, Google, and other providers.

OSM’s progress in seven years: LA split down the middle — 2007 (left) and 2014 (right).

Geofabrik’s ‘Map Compare’ tool, showing comparative map coverage of Gaza: OSM (left) and Google Maps (right).

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

– Mahatma Gandhi

Like a firecracker, the most exciting thing about OSM is its potential. The initiative has in the previous 10 years created a superior display map, but the story has never been about how it looks, but what it is — the data. Unlike any other online map, only OSM allows anyone to access the underlying data that powers the cartography you see. As an example, OSM Mapping company Mapbox is generally ahead of the curve in articulating this critical difference, and have this week begun marketing their product more as a geographic data platform. The emerging message for all consumers of OSM is that OpenStreetMap is not a map, but rather a singular, spatial dataset.

While anyone familiar with the Coastline Paradox will know that new and improved data can always be added to the map, but the map will never be finished. Not because the task is too great, but because there is no end.

Now into its second decade, OSM is moving out of its awkward adolescence and into its mature, young adult phase — specifically the “boring bits” are getting cleaned up on the back end that make it more usable but may never be visible to the eye: nodes are getting connected and turn restrictions added to facilitate navigation, while addresses are being sourced to help with geocoding and place finding. Ultimately, we can expect the next 10 years to focus on enriched data relationships and new, peripheral content that make the map that much more usable and valuable. And while there is little temperature now in the community for machine contributions over human ones (machines just do not have that critical, subjective, local knowledge, it is argued), my money is on contributions from machines, sensors, and bots outweighing those from humans in the very near term.

OSM now has more than 1.5 million registered users, including major mapping and navigation companies. At its heart, OSM is an anarchic and widely dispersed community, but they believe in The Map and the power of a shared commons, and are the reasons for its existence. The project is named OpenStreetMap — one, singular map — for this very specific reason.

Announcing Factual’s Geopulse Geotag with Launch Partners Dropbox & Tastemade

We’re very pleased to announce the release of Factual’s Geopulse Geotag, a reverse geocoder optimized for the geographic labelling of images, messages, events, and digital assets created on mobile devices. Geopulse Geotag features global coverage, high-volume API access, economical pricing, entity IDs, and an on-premise option. It is powered by data from OpenStreetMap and other open data sources, cleansed and normalized by Factual.

Geopulse Geotag is the latest tool in Factual’s workbench of context-enhancing mobile services. With billions of mobile devices generating torrents of longitudes and latitudes, Geotag translates coordinates into their corresponding country, state, city, neighborhood, and street. Unlike most reverse geocoders, you keep rights to the data (within the terms of the source), and ours is priced to be affordable for those that see hundreds of millions to billions of points regularly: reverse geocoding at the scale required to contextualize today’s mobile world.

The checklist:

  • Global: available for all countries.
  • High-Volume Tiering: affordable geotagging by the millions (or billions).
  • On-Premise or Hosted: run on your servers, or use our REST service.
  • Entity IDs: explicit identifiers from Factual’s World Geographies dataset.
  • OSM Data: growing faster than any other map database.
  • Fast: between 4k and 6k queries per second on commodity hardware.

We’re especially proud to release Geopulse Geotag with Carousel by Dropbox and Tastemade as launch partners.

Carousel by Dropbox is a photo gallery product launched in April 2014. It’s a single place to view, organize, and share all your photos and videos on your phone and in your Dropbox. Carousel will use Geopulse Geotag to show users where photos and videos were taken and help them stay organized.

The Tastemade App (on iPhone, iPad and Android) is a fun and easy way for consumers to create and share high quality videos about their favorite restaurants, all from their phone in minutes. Consumers now have a curated and geo-specific video guide to the best restaurants near them. Tastemade uses Geopulse Geotag to tag videos with location data, helping build this global database of amazing restaurants.

In addition to the 65+ million businesses and landmarks available through Factual’s Global Places data, Geopulse Geotag provides today’s mobile-centric world with the affordable and powerful contextual service it demands.

We are releasing the on-prem version as production-ready; the hosted API is in beta. To learn more about Geopulse Geotag:

Tyler Bell
VP, Spatial Things