Foursquare Broadens API & Kicks Off Venue Project To Unify Place Databases

by Avinash Saxena

Foursquare co-founder and CEO Dennis Crowley is taking the stage atSXSW this afternoon in an interview with Mashable founder and CEO Pete Cashmore. Crowley is announcing that the startup is broadening its API and kicking off the “Venue Project” to unify disparate place databases.

“Right now, there’s no Rosetta Stone for location allowing you to link information about a real-world place from one database to any other,” reads the Foursquare announcement on the Venue Project.

The problem, Crowley explained in an interview with Mashable, is that everyone has their own place database, and that means that Foursquare’s venue IDs — it now has 14 million places in its database — don’t match Google’s or Twitter’s venue IDs. “The Venue Harmonization Map aims to solve that, by translating those numbers so that you only have to look up the ID once,” according to the post.

Foursquare is launching the project with four partners: The New York TimesThrillist, MenuPages and New York Magazine. New Foursquare venue APIs will provide access to this communal database so partners can find and search places by third-party IDs and URLs.

It’s an aggressive endeavor that’s sure to ruffle a few feathers, as place databases are considered proprietary data by the companies who have spent years amassing them. Still, Crowley would love to eventually see bothGoogle and Twitter join the project.

During the keynote address, Crowley will also talk about how Foursquare is broadening its venues API. The startup is removing previous rate limits, releasing an API endpoint for trending venues and now allowing developers to use the API to tag photos as on Instagram, drinks via Untappd or any other data. Soon, Foursquare will also make APIs available for recommendations and the leaderboard.

The API and Venue Project news comes as the last piece of SXSW news for Foursquare. The startup has kicked off an automatic credit card swipe loyalty reward with American Express, launched version 3.0 of the app with recommendations and will be hosting a Big Boi concert later Monday evening.

 

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