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I use foursquare because it contains a lot of POIs. Which database do you use when you need a point of interest in North America?

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postgis - but you seem to be asking about a geonames API tool? geonames.org/export/ws-overview.html –  Mapperz May 26 '11 at 19:28
    
What are your criteria for using one over another? –  scw May 26 '11 at 19:30
    
Geoname doesn't have many information of POI. it's a shame ! –  twisig May 26 '11 at 20:09
    
Similar questions are answered here: gis.stackexchange.com/questions/7749/… and gis.stackexchange.com/questions/2171/… –  RyanDalton May 26 '11 at 20:51
    
@TechGeom- Are you sure Geonames doesn't have POI info? Take a look at the FCLASS code "S" which contains over 11K POI type spots in my state. geonames.org/export/codes.html –  RyanDalton May 26 '11 at 21:42
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2 Answers 2

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There appear to be 7 major "POI" databases which have a large quantity of API-accessible POI data in the US. (Cribbing much of this from http://www.quora.com/What-are-the-pros-and-cons-of-each-Places-API)

  • Yelp
  • CitySearch
  • Facebook
  • Foursquare
  • Google
  • SimpleGeo, Factual

Depending on what you are looking for, these each offer different benefits.

Yelp, CitySearch

These two are similar sites: centered primarily around reviews, rather than acting as POI databases. As a result, their data is slanted more towards places that users would write reviews for -- you won't find "Middle East Upstairs Men's Room" in these databases. However, they tend to have more rich information -- in addition to categorization, they also have, of course, the reviews themselves, and additional information like ratings, etc. For many purposes, these review sites are superior in the places where they have content.

Facebook

The Facebook places API offers a way to integrate places which is more social in nature. Places which exist in Facebook places will tend to have things like wall posts, pictures, etc. more often, and for places which do business on Facebook, you can find more content. However, the overall quality of these places is lower; in my limited sampling, geographic accuracy tends to be lower than Foursquare, and the coverage is lower, without the benefit of curated reviews that Yelp and CitySearch offer.

FourSquare

FourSquare is the most comprehensive list of places of any of these APIs, period. It has the most comprehensive list of places -- in part because it has a more broad definition of what a 'place' is. (See above.) For venue search, it has a relatively open API, and check-ins, tips, and so on provide a reasonable set of metadata -- but more limited than the more 'refined' place sources above.

However, because much of this data is user entered, a lot of this data is crap: duplicates are a fact of life, and you will have to cope with misentered data.

Google

Google's places API provides you a limited set of information from Google's place pages. The information provided is reasonable, but it is more difficult to get information like links to places out of this API. It is a relatively comprehensive selection, but its search is not particularly broad, and it does not offer the information like checkins and so on that Foursquare offers. Overall, this API is reasonable, but with less coverage than Foursquare and (via the API) less depth than others, it doesn't offer a lot more than Foursquare or the others in either of the directions.

SimpleGeo, Factual

I haven't looked at these. However, they are 'open' data, unlike all the others, which is probably a benefit for some use cases.

Overall, which is 'best' probably depends entirely on what you're doing; they all offer different sets of points, different depth, etc. Foursquare is probably a winner on breadth; Yelp (in areas it covers) is a bigger winner on depth; Google fits inbetween them in some ways.

I'll note that this is all anecdotal; Google claims 50 million places, while Foursquare claims more in the vein of 15 million, so there may be a significant difference in the actual number of places Google has... however, at least in the mostly Urban areas I've been looking at, it seems that Foursquare is more comprehensive. (Since Foursquare data is largely user-submitted, it makes sense that urban areas will be better covered, so my observations may not hold for any given use case.)

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Thanks Christopher for your time ! –  twisig May 26 '11 at 20:23
    
I am surprised that OSM, Nokia and Teleatlas are not listed –  Ragi Yaser Burhum May 29 '11 at 1:41
    
TelaAtlas doesn't have (as far as I know) a public API to get access to their data. Nokia doesn't have a public API to get to their data. OSM doesn't have an interesting set of POI data -- they have some limited, spotty coverage, like GeoNames, but it's not at all a source that you can use if you want to actually have a comprehensive set of POIs. bit.ly/1anyma has more information. –  Christopher Schmidt May 29 '11 at 11:52
    
January 12th, 2012: After SimpleGeo was acquired by Urban Airship in Oct 2011, Urban Aiship said “wind down the availability of the current versions of [SimpleGeo's] Places, Context, and Storage over the next few months.”...The target date for pulling the plug officially will be March 31, 2012. Link –  RyanDalton Feb 7 '13 at 18:42
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Check out https://simplegeo.com/products/places/ . It is new on the block but has been receiving some good press.

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Ok but SimpleGeo is not very simple for the development .NET. And i search Business POI. –  twisig May 26 '11 at 20:04
    
August 1, 2011 blog posting: "SimpleGeo’s CC0 Places data set is now available for download at no cost. If you’d like to get your hands on 21M+ POIs that cover 63 countries, we’re ready to hand that over to you in one file. The file is about 2GB in .ZIP format, and remember, with the CC0 license, this data becomes yours – free and clear – to do whatever you want. We hope you do awesome things with it!" blog.simplegeo.com/2011/08/01/august-updates –  RyanDalton Aug 18 '11 at 7:15
    
SimpleGeo is dead ! –  twisig Apr 15 '12 at 16:59
    
January 12th, 2012: After SimpleGeo was acquired by Urban Airship in Oct 2011, Urban Aiship said “wind down the availability of the current versions of [SimpleGeo's] Places, Context, and Storage over the next few months.”...The target date for pulling the plug officially will be March 31, 2012. Link –  RyanDalton Feb 7 '13 at 18:36
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