A Beginner’s Guide to Points of Interest

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Humans are mobile creatures and a lot can be understood by how and where people migrate. Modern business relies on smart data to create market insight. Capturing the right information leads to better decision making, more efficient workflows, and higher rates of customer engagement.

Data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers. This starts with looking at behavioral trends like location data; specifically, points of interest.

What are Points of Interest?

A Point of Interest (POI) is a location that lots of people visit either routinely, seasonally, or based on certain events.

Examples of a POI include:

  • Arenas and stadiums
  • Civic centers
  • Retail stores
  • Restaurants
  • And more…

So, what is a POI?

POIs give us important reference points for assessing, planning and decision-making. How people move around a location provides important insight for a variety of industries and job roles. This information is valuable for data scientists, retailers, city planners, commercial real estate investors, healthcare providers, and lots more.

How Does a Location Become a POI?

The simplest way a location becomes a point of interest is to attract a lot of attention. A large number of people congregating in one place indicates activities like socializing, commerce, and the performance of services.

When an area is experiencing a sudden change in human mobility patterns, it is considered a point of interest. Human foot traffic is drastically affected by national emergencies, illness, natural disasters, and other sociological factors. This can both drive and decline real-time foot traffic depending on the business.

When COVID struck and lockdowns and social distancing became the new normal for many, levels of foot traffic dropped everywhere. This in turn meant many stores, restaurants and small businesses simply did not have the customers to survive, so they closed and people lost their jobs—all because of changes in human mobility patterns.

Another way a location can become a POI is by experiencing atypical or unusual foot traffic driven by an increase in population flow. For example, some counties on the edge of urban areas have experienced significant growth as a result of people leaving the city. Even a few hundred people changing a migration pattern can alter the economies of a neighborhood.

A location is also recognized as a POI when representing similar locations in a given area, industry, or category. McDonalds is a good representational POI of foot traffic everywhere. It sets a benchmark for performance and provides a quick test of general mobility.

Other representational brands include:

  • Walmart
  • Home Depot
  • 7-Eleven
  • Starbucks

Everyday Applications for POI Data

So, how can you use a POI database in real life? POI data can be applied in many different aspects from research to business, real estate, and government development. Here are a few examples:

Students and Data Scientists

Add more depth to your research by connecting to different data sets across the entirety of your country, state, city, and neighborhood. Track things like human mobility, emerging areas, and population migration patterns.

Probe insights already connected to the American Census Service. Assess and benchmark performance from 2018 to current day. Unacast offers both free and paid data as a service to help you plug in and get started.

Journalists and Media

Provide a local angle on the bigger picture by using powerful, location-centric tools to get a clear picture of human mobility and migration in your hometown and on your beat.

Long weekend coming up? Look back at historical foot traffic patterns to predict which POIs will be bust and which brands will win.

Covering an urban exodus at the state level, or a local small town boom? Select an exact POI or address to start, then measure and visualize foot traffic and population flow. You can even make changes in total net income— right down to the neighborhood level.

Retailers and Restaurateurs

Use foot traffic analysis to plan staffing levels for different shifts. Study changes in local consumer population to determine ideal sites for new locations. Assess cross-visitation patterns to inform partnership marketing and advertising spend.

Businesses can easily identify where visitors originate from and if they are locals, workers, or tourists. Layer POIs and location data with your marketing stack to better inform web, mobile, and email campaigns. POI data can be especially useful for small businesses in developing markets.

CRE Investors

CRE investors can use location data in many different ways. Research areas with increasing foot traffic to identify possible investment and/or development opportunities in potential areas of need. Accurately measure population flows concerning points of immigration and emigration.

POI data can help quantify the total income flow. This will inform other data points, such as current lease rates, projected sales, etc. Quickly augment and/or validate knowledge from other CRE data sources.  

Government Agencies

Measure changes in how people are moving around and using public spaces now, compared to previous periods. This optimizes population density models and needs assessments for civic planners and engineers.

Common use cases that give a POI meaning in governance include:

  • Planning and operations for public transit
  • Real estate acquisition and development
  • Maintenance and security of public spaces
  • Location planning for essential services
  • Urban land use classification


What is POI data for consultants? It creates a greater depth of scope for clients by connecting location intelligence to your existing datasets and analysis models. Drive business value by providing additional context to key decisions around location planning, property development, and community health.

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Why are Points of Interest Important?

Researching points of interest provides key advantages in a competitive business landscape. This is especially prevalent in situations where foot traffic equates to sales and smarter investments. Understanding a POI definition is the first start to peeling back the layers of critical location data.

Location-based technology and POI data has great promises in developing markets. This has immense implications for global commerce and the future of business.

Assessing human behavior and mobility gives a business greater insight and more wiggle room for creativity. The more you study how people move around your brand, the easier it is to meet on common grounds.


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