Will Factual Become the Go-to Location Database?

Adam DuVander, September 22nd, 2010

FactualWith 25 million business listings over nine countries, open data company Factual has taken a first step toward creating a place database to which anyone can contribute. With location-based applications now more popular than ever, the data is extremely valuable to developers. Factual is providing it via its API, currently for free.

We wrote about the open platform when Factual launched a year ago. Now it has launched a new site, as well as a number of local features that go live today. Among them are the business listings, the largest of which is U.S. data (13 million locations). However, according to founder Gil Elbaz, the company plans to add many more countries.

Without Factual, a developer looking to write location-based apps must buy expensive data or build off of someone else’s database, such as a location-sharing service like Foursquare. Developers have been waiting for an open business listings database, where developers can share updates and easily get the latest listings. “We are working to be that ubiquitous place database,” Elbaz said. “We feel we’re working as hard as anyone on this, maybe harder. We have the ability to merge and clean this data.”

Factual’s machine learning technology is able to take multiple references to one place and create a single listing. Every piece of data, such as the hours of operation of Champion’s Restaurant in Escondido, California, can be traced back to its sources. The source may be a user on Factual’s site (which displays data in Excel-like tables), another developer or a site on the Internet. Factual’s technology is able to decipher facts from web pages. Popular places have 50-100 citations, increasing the likelihood that you’re dealing with good data.

The writeable portion of the Factual API is also important, both to the company and to its potential as a source of an open business listing database. Every piece of data can also be updated by an application. In fact, once Factual begins charging for its service (as it warns it will), those that contribute back will be charged less or even nothing, according to Elbaz.

Some may not consider Factual’s database to be open, because it’s controlled by a single entity. And, further, the entity has made it clear that one day the service will cost money. That said, this is the closest we’ve seen so far. And for any developer who has worked with location data, this is good news.

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11 Responses to “Will Factual Become the Go-to Location Database?”

September 23rd, 2010
at 3:41 am
Comment by: Will Factual Become the Go-to Location Database? | Digital Asset Management

[...] Will Factual Become the Go-to Location Database?. [...]

September 27th, 2010
at 9:50 pm
Comment by: AdSense Forefather Makes 14 Million Business Listings Available for Free | TechAggregator.com

[...] Liz Gannes called the offering "a great place database in the sky." Adam Duvander at ProgrammableWeb said it was "a first step toward creating a place database to which anyone can [...]

September 27th, 2010
at 9:51 pm
Comment by: AdSense Forefather Makes 14 Million Business Listings Available for Free | ECtimes.com

[...] Liz Gannes called the offering "a great place database in the sky." Adam Duvander at ProgrammableWeb said it was "a first step toward creating a place database to which anyone can [...]

September 27th, 2010
at 9:53 pm
Comment by: AdSense Forefather Makes 14 Million Business Listings Available for Free

[...] Liz Gannes called the offering "a great place database in the sky." Adam Duvander at ProgrammableWeb said it was "a first step toward creating a place database to which anyone can [...]

October 26th, 2010
at 3:56 pm
Comment by: Stock Data API Hints at Future of Data as a Service

[...] with the Factual location database, the data is publicly available in a spreadsheet-like format. The corporate fundamental data from [...]

February 16th, 2011
at 9:01 pm
Comment by: Factual Now Covers 27 Countries, 30 Million Business Listings

[...] covered Factual a number of times, most recently asking if it will become the go-to location database. Now the company has expanded its offering with improved datasets, new datasets and a new iPhone [...]

February 17th, 2011
at 3:20 am
Comment by: Factual Now Covers 27 Countries, 30 Million Business Listings | Another Newyork Times

[...] covered Factual a number of times, most recently asking if it will become the go-to location database. Now the company has expanded its offering with improved datasets, new datasets and a new iPhone [...]

April 27th, 2011
at 12:01 pm
Comment by: Auto-check-in App Wins Factual Hackathon

[...] which we said may be the go-to location database, also had hacker-oriented entertainment as part of the Hackathon. The first night included a panel, [...]

May 5th, 2011
at 9:33 pm
Comment by: Will Factual Become the Go-to Location Database? « « John Wright's Microblog John Wright's Microblog

[...] Will Factual Become the Go-to Location Database?This is great!  [...]

June 23rd, 2011
at 1:01 pm
Comment by: Factual and SimpleGeo Create One of the Largest Business Listings Databases

[...] Factual launched its business listings, we asked will it become the go-to location database? The partnership with SimpleGeo points to the combined data and service as the one to beat. [...]

June 19th, 2012
at 6:02 am
Comment by: Factual Aims to be Framework for Local Offers

[...] Factual Places API, which we said may become the go-to location database, is integral to the new service. Offers are tied to specific business listings or can be looked up [...]

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