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The Importance of Reliable, Accurate, and Timely Open and Close Metadata for POIs

January 26, 2022
Bryan Bonack

The world is dynamically changing and so are businesses. By some estimates, 20% of new businesses close within one year of opening. Even before the pandemic accelerated business closures, the Small Business Administration reported in 2018 that since 1990, about 7-9% of all businesses (not just new ones) close each year. At the same time, the number of new business applications has continued to increase year over year, adding more complexity to staying on top of what businesses are in operation and where.

Source: Oberlo

When working with points of interest (POI) data, organizations are often using those POIs as a source of truth for what is happening in the real world. This truth set is then used to base critical business decisions off of. But with such a rapidly changing business landscape, POI data is often stale. Many providers only update their POI databases annually or quarterly, and some do not thoroughly vet their inputs. This bad information can result in serious consequences for business strategies.

But there is a solution. POI data that includes open and close metadata reflects the real-world dynamic of businesses opening and closing over time. Within a POI dataset, a date is marked for when the business is first opened, and the same if it closes. 

Why open and close metadata matters in POI databases

POI users need reliable data in order to be able to analyze it and make the right strategic decisions. Here are some examples of organizations and the business decisions they make based on when places open and close:

  • Business owners looking for new market opportunities or performing site selection need the latest and most accurate POI data to zero-in on the ideal place to operate - or where to avoid. They may want to see where complementary businesses have recently opened (think juice bars looking for new yoga studios), or where competitors have recently closed. Open and close metadata reveals where others have had success or failure, and can be an indicator of how a new venture might do in that place.
  • Analysts doing investment research rely on open and close metadata in a geographic area to monitor larger economic trends that can impact their decisions. POIs that reflect recently closed businesses in one or more areas can point to bad economic performance on a larger scale, but also how different regions are performing compared to one another. For example, certain areas might be more or less affected than others in an economic crisis, or showing signs of recovery sooner than others. 
  • Governments use open and close metadata for urban planning. By monitoring where businesses open and close, they can create maps showing service areas for different community amenities, such as gyms, healthcare centers, public transportation, and educational resources. This allows urban planning departments to identify underserved areas and better allocate resources.

How SafeGraph curates accurate, timely, and reliable POI data

In order to accurately report open and close dates in our datasets, SafeGraph has been tracking openings and closings for both branded and non-branded places since July 2019. If a POI from an existing source repeatedly disappears in our build pipeline, it is flagged as closed_on during the month in which it first disappears. As of January 2022, SafeGraph’s Core Places data contains closed_on dates for 892K+ global places, spanning 100 countries and more than 4,000 brands. This includes 718K+ unbranded POIs representing smaller stores that are harder to report on.

If a new POI from an existing source repeatedly appears in our build pipeline, it is flagged as opened_on during the month in which it first appears. As of January 2022, there are 125K+ POIs globally with an opened_on date, spanning 113 countries and more than 4,000 brands. On average, more than 1,000 brands are flagged with a store opening or closure each calendar month. These flags are added to the Core Places product permitting final QA checks and overall data hygiene. An analysis where we compared company-reported counts with our open/close data showed our methodology works and results in reliable, up-to-date, and accurate POI data. 

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