What the last 500,000,000 check-ins look like! (And what they show about the future of Foursquare)
Everyday, millions of people around the world open up our app to discover amazing places around them. They check in at new restaurants that are opening up in their neighborhoods, their favorite dive bars for happy hour, and cozy local bookstores that are still going strong. With every check-in, people are recording all the places they love to go. Plotted out as half a billion points on a map, they start to look pretty amazing:
Click here to take a closer look at the map. It’s particularly neat when you start zooming in, because it really shows the life of cities across the world – you can see city centers (Moscow looks like a spider!), perfectly outlined islands like Oahu, the thin line of the Golden Gate Bridge, the walking paths of Central Park, and even the airport runways at Atlanta’s International Airport and the ferry routes in Istanbul.
At Foursquare, those half billion points (generated from check-ins over the last three months) are also at the heart of three important things we’re doing as a company:
1. Creating amazing personalized recommendations
What makes Foursquare Explore so powerful is that all those check-ins you see aren’t just single points – they’re links between all the other places people have been, too. For example, when we see that a bunch of locals tend to check in to the same tucked-away taqueria after going to a nearby theater, they’re helping us understand the relationship between those two places. So, when someone new to the neighborhood is leaving that theater, Explore can recommend amazing tacos they might otherwise have missed out on.
And when we add check-ins from you, your friends, and people with similar tastes to the mix, our suggestions become even more personalized. If we see that you and your friends check in at breweries and beer gardens often, we know the perfect bars to recommend when you land in a new city, because we know where aficionados like you tend to go. We like to think of it as our version of Google PageRank for the real world – we’re working to understand the billions of invisible connections between places so we can make amazing recommendations.
2. Building a powerful location layer for the world
Those points are also an amazing visualization of the ever-expanding, ever-improving database of tens of millions of places that powers Foursquare Explore. It illustrates why, when you open up the app, no matter where you are in the world, you can discover rich information about all the places around you.
Because our location database is based on millions of check-ins every day, it’s incredibly reliable and up-to-date. That’s why everyone from Instagram and Bing to Flickr, Quora, Path, Soundtracking, Evernote, Garmin, and thousands of other developers use our location information to power their apps. Over 100 million people a month see Foursquare’s location information through our partners.
3. Connecting people with the places they visit
Part of understanding where people go is helping them connect with the places they love. If you like a cafe in your neighborhood, or a boutique shoe store, we want to build tools so they can keep you up to date with their latest menu items, shipments, and sales. And if you’re looking for a museum to go to this weekend, we want them to be able to share their latest exhibits and special admission hours with you. Through our tools for businesses, we want to help you strengthen your connections with local merchants, and help you discover ones we think you’ll love.
We have a lot planned for the coming months. Want to see what we’re building? Download Foursquare here.