How to use POI data to power location-based apps
Julija Babre·Feb 20, 2020

How to use POI data to power location-based apps

Julija Babre
Product Marketing Manager Enterprise
Feb 20, 2020 · 7 min read
How to Use POI Data to Power Location-Based Apps | TomTom Blog

Going somewhere new always starts with a search. Whether finding the newest restaurant in town or the nearest available electric vehicle charging station, your users will likely expect – and appreciate – to find the POI location data they’re looking for in your app.

POI data providers should offer easy access to reliable and detailed points of interest from trusted sources, to enable informed decision making for both you and your end-users. This is why TomTom is continuously extending its supplier and partner network. We work with the most trusted POI data providers in the industry – including partnering with Foursquare – to bring a reliable and extensive database to you.

Having great partners is one side of the story. Knowing and recognizing a high-quality POI when you see one, is another. So, what distinguishes high-quality POI data from the rest? Let’s find out.

What is POI data and what is it used for?

POI data offers users information about a specific place. Where is it located? What is its function? What else is there to know about it?

From hotels to train stations, and from hospitals to airports, POI data can answer some of the most important questions users search for in a location-based application and put their mind at ease.

POI data from TomTom and its partners – like Foursquare – helps users find restaurants, shops, parking spots and other places they are looking for quickly and easily.

POI data from TomTom and its partners – like Foursquare – helps users find restaurants, shops, parking spots and other places they are looking for quickly and easily.

What should you look for in a POI dataset?

There are five factors that distinguish high-quality POI data from other datasets: freshness, coverage, consistency, ease of use and customization. Let’s take a look at what you should keep in mind when choosing a POI location data provider if what you are looking for is quality.

Is POI data fresh?

Our world changes every day. A new restaurant pops up, or a new station opens while another one closes, or new parking spots become available in areas where they are most needed. In order for your user to have information based on the current situation, rather than the past, your app should be able to reflect these changes in POI location data from the moment they happen.

At TomTom, our continuously releasable database enables us to process these changes with speed, so they reach your end-user as quickly as possible. In 2019 only, we added over four million shops, businesses and restaurants to our database, increasing our POI database by over 10%.

TomTom has a POI dataset of over 131 million points of interest across the world.

TomTom has a POI dataset of over 131 million points of interest across the world.

Is POI data extensive?

Coverage ensures that no matter where your users are in the world, they can count on the POI location data in your app to help them find the place they are looking for. This requires working with a provider that can offer global coverage using both local and global sources, as well as going beyond the basics.

Does the user want to see a restaurant’s reviews before deciding where to eat out? Or the photos of a certain place to be able to decide whether to visit or not? The more detailed information you are able to offer through your POI dataset, the better the experience you deliver your users.

At TomTom, you get an extensive global database of POI that includes 642,000 petrol stations, 92,000 parking garages, six million restaurants and one million hotels in 188 countries.

The breadth of our POI data comes from the wide range of suppliers we work with, and whether large or small, global or local, we source data from multiple partners and make it available for your application. We are proud to choose Foursquare as one of TomTom’s trusted POI partners. Working with them means integrating millions of additional static points of interest into our offering, so you can benefit from a larger and more reliable global database.

With the help of Foursquare’s rich venue insights, TomTom offers a wide range of rich POI information that improves your users experience. With details such as reviews, ratings, photos and price range, our POI data can help users make informed decisions about where to shop, eat and stay.

We are keenly interested in the quality of data. Canada is a large country with lots of remote locations, making mapping a challenge. We have found that TomTom Maps APIs offer excellent coverage coast-to-coast for Yellow Pages users and business clients.

Louie Monteferrante and Julien Daniel

Yellow Pages Canada

Is POI data consistent?

There are few things worse than wanting to go to a certain place, only to find out that your app led you somewhere else entirely. Or, equally disappointing, to get to the right location only to find there’s nothing there. To avoid such moments, at TomTom we go to great lengths to ensure that there are no fake POIs in our database. Using advanced mapmaking technology, we do POI data validation to guarantee the quality of all POIs that enter our database – no matter whether sourced through partners or by us directly.

Starting by using multiple trusted POI data sources, including partnering with industry-leading providers to access over 32 million additional points of interest, we combine them to provide a complete and accurate dataset that your users can rely on.

The result is ample choice from over 100 POI categories that are further split in over 600 sub-categories. This data is not restricted to specific use cases, which gives you the freedom to find a restaurant even if you’re not looking at that specific category. Having one global specification also provides consistency of POI data across the world.

Is POI data easy to use?

Making it easy for your users to find the POIs they are looking for is key for a good experience, but the same stands true for you. This is why POI location data should be easy to use not only by your customers, but for you to integrate into your app as well.

TomTom makes it easy for you to discover and add POIs to your app and display them in the way that suits you best. Whether provided by partners or sourced directly by us, all our POI data is not only checked for quality, but it is also easily – and instantly – accessed through a single search engine.

By delivering entry points, TomTom POI data allows you to accurately guide a user to a precise POI location – whether that is the back entrance to a club or the front door of a museum.

Customer story
When switching to TomTom Search API, Yellow Pages Canada found the integration process straightforward and were happy with the overall data performance. Click the link below to read the full story.

Is POI data customizable?

Your needs are different from everyone else’s, and the POI dataset you use should reflect that. Look for POI data that is versatile enough to fulfill the specific use cases you are looking for and that allows you to display filtered content based on the needs of your users.

TomTom’s POI GIS data can help you satisfy multiple use cases, depending on who your app caters to. This can be turn-by-turn navigation, local search, GIS, business analysis, emergency response and more.

With TomTom, you can also display POIs in the way that suits you best. You can make certain that only relevant content is shown to your users by filtering out certain POI data categories using our Search API.

It is up to you how your users see POI data in your app. With TomTom, you have the option to use icons to make POI categories fit your app’s visual identity and make it easy to recognize for your users.

Last but not least, another customization option is to put your business on the map and allow your app users – as well as everyone else using TomTom’s global POI database – to find you. Not only can you add your business to the map for free, but all POIs are displayed in a neutral way, which means you don’t have to boost your business for it to be more visible to users. This is easily done via MapShare Reporter, a free service that enriches POI data through community input.

POI data delivery formats

At TomTom, our goal is to keep the world moving through our location technologies. Whether you’re a developer building a location-based application or a carmaker looking to add a fresh POI dataset to your embedded navigation system, TomTom gives you access to a fresh, extensive and consistent global POI database.

It is delivered through the online API, Multinet, Multinet-R and NDS formats and easily facilitates accurate routing, as geocoded data is fully integrated with the base map.

More detailed POI data including information such as reviews, ratings, photos and price range are delivered through two new APIs: Points of Interest Details API and Points of Interest Photos API.

If you’re interested in learning more about the ways TomTom APIs can help improve your user’s experience, visit the TomTom Developer Portal.

Want to know more?
To learn more about the POI data you can access with TomTom, download this product sheet.

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