Why Transparency Matters: Becoming the Most Transparent Data Company (2023)

SafeGraph’s goal is to be the source of truth for data on physical places. To achieve this goal, we’re laser-focused on curating the most accurate, precise, and up-to-date geospatial datasets to power location analytics at large corporations, small businesses, and academic institutions alike.

But we recognize that truth is aspirational. In such a rapidly, constantly changing world, building truth sets for physical places is a tall order, and one that we will never get 100% right. While we will always strive to be as close to 100% as possible, we will also always be transparent about where our data comes from, and how accurate it is. Part of this commitment to transparency means providing open-access to our data, as well as open-access to our sourcing process, schema, fill rates, and bugs.

How Transparency is Core to Our Mission of Becoming the Source of Truth for Physical Places

Since our beginning, we’ve been committed to transparency and providing access to high-quality places data without compromising consumer privacy. We’ve always been focused on data tied to latitude and longitude coordinates, never tied to people. And we’ve always been up-front about any limitations to the data we provide.

Our data journey

An integral part of analyzing locations is understanding how people interact with them. That’s why we continue to partner with other data providers to enrich our places data with additional consumer-related attributes, such as anonymized and aggregated mobility counts and transactions.

Our very first dataset was aggregated and anonymized mobile pings curated from apps where consumers opted-in to share their location. At the time, we didn’t provide context as to what was happening at the locations of those pings, just the latitude, longitude, and time stamp. A lot of our customers were open with us about the limitations of this: mainly, that it was not helpful to see where people were traveling without knowing what was also there. So we decided to source points of interest (POI) data to add the necessary context.

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But we quickly realized that high quality POI data was extremely difficult to source. The few companies that did provide it at the time did not update it frequently enough to accurately represent a changing world, often relied on inaccurate geocodes, and didn’t offer the amount of detail about each place that users really needed to derive valuable insight from the data.

So we decided to build it ourselves. In 2018 we officially shifted our strategy from focusing on device locations to curating place locations. We maintained our original commitment to transparency with this shift in product strategy. Even though we decided to build our own POI database to be more accurate than others on the market, we recognized that we would never be 100% correct; places change way too much for that to ever be the case. We continue to publish our bugs and their fixes every month to keep our users updated with both the good and the bad.

Why is Transparency Important?

Organizations are often using data for mission-critical analytics. They need to be able to trust both the data itself and the company that produces it.

If there is uncertainty about the data itself, the analytics that are produced with it are then called into question. Whether the analysis is used for making an important business decision, advising a client, or informing consumers about something impacting them, the outcome needs to be trustworthy to be valuable. Transparency in what the data is - whether good or bad - serves as the foundation of that trust.

The same is true for data providers. If a company is not trusted, neither is the product nor the service it delivers. Being transparent about bugs is part of building trust in a company, but so is transparency around how the product is built in the first place. This is especially true for companies whose products may include sensitive information. End users don’t want to be associated with a company that has a bad reputation.

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For SafeGraph specifically, our data is often just one ingredient in a larger solution. If the integrity of that data is called into question, so is the end solution. We work hard to uphold the integrity of our data, and in turn protect the work of our clients.

How is SafeGraph Transparent?

We don’t hide anything about our data. SafeGraph publishes our data schema publicly, as well as bug fixes and release notes. We refresh our data every month to ensure it's an accurate reflection of a dynamically changing world. While we strive to create the best, most accurate places data possible, we know we’ll never be perfect. We value feedback from our users, and make it easy to report errors in our data so we can fix them.

SafeGraph also makes it easy to access our data. We provide data free to academics for use in research and education, and are committed to being open about what data we offer and how it’s built. Our goal is to make our data open to anyone who needs to use it.

The integrity of our company and data curation is a key value to each one of our employees, and we are proud to continue partnering with organizations who feel the same. In location data, privacy is critical to transparency. That’s why we are up-front about what data we build, how we build it, and what we do to protect consumer privacy.

Other companies offer POI, mobility, and transaction data, but what makes SafeGraph different is our commitment to transparency and consumer data privacy. Because our focus is entirely on places, we never work with individual consumer data. Instead, we curate aggregated and anonymized consumer behavior data to provide a general idea of visit volume and frequency to specific places.

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What kind of data does SafeGraph build?

Part of being transparent is being very clear on the type of data we sell. SafeGraph provides data about physical places. SafeGraph’s point of interest (POI) database includes details about specific locations, such as lat/long coordinates, open/close dates, and NAICS codes. Geometry for SafeGraph POIs denotes structural boundaries and building relationships for accurate proximity analysis and geofencing. SafeGraph also provides foot traffic insights created from aggregated and anonymized mobile location data to deliver mobility insights without personally identifiable information (PII). We also recently launched SafeGraph Spend to provide anonymized and aggregated debit/credit card transactions at individual businesses. We apply consumer protection methodology to our foot traffic and transaction datasets since we are not in the business of providing information on how individuals behave, but rather how specific locations relate to trends in consumer behavior.

Does SafeGraph collect data?

We create our datasets from a combination of machine learning, web crawling, and third-party licensing. More specifically, our Places and Geometry datasets are built using open store locators, publicly available APIs, and licensed third-party data. We also apply our own machine learning techniques to infer additional attributes about a place, or determine its shape.

SafeGraph Spend is created using licensed third-party credit and debit transaction data, aggregated and anonymized at the store level. The purpose of the Spend dataset is not to understand the spending habits of any one individual, but rather how aggregated transactions relate to physical stores, geographic regions and types of places.

You can read more about the data sourcing process for all of our datasets here.

Does SafeGraph have an SDK?

SafeGraph does not have an SDK or any software available in app stores.

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How does SafeGraph protect consumer privacy when building its data?

From the beginning of our data sourcing process, SafeGraph never deals with personally identifiable information. The only data we see and work with is anonymized and aggregated movements of people who have opted-in to sharing their location with our partner organizations. To further ensure consumer privacy, we apply differential privacy techniques within our methodology.

Does SafeGraph sell personally identifiable information (PII)?

SafeGraph does not provide device-level or PII data in any capacity, and instead focuses on volume aggregations by geography to show how populations move in relation to physical places. We chose this strategy because it ultimately leads to higher data quality and resiliency while protecting individual privacy.

SafeGraph Provides Open Access to Data

One of SafeGraph’s core values is ensuring data is not hoarded by a few companies or individuals. We believe data should be open to all who need or want to use it to power innovation and make the world better. Even before our product strategy pivot in 2018, this commitment to data accessibility has been a core pillar of SafeGraph.

We strive to provide an environment where data scientists, academics, and businesses can work together using location data to create new insights. Our community of over 15,000 data scientists collaborate on innovative ways to use location data for the betterment of society and improvements to business strategies.

SafeGraph’s Commitment to Transparency

At SafeGraph, we recognize that we’re just an ingredient in the larger solutions our clients are powering with data. To protect the integrity of those solutions and the decisions made from them, our number one priority is to be a trusted partner they can rely on. Our commitment to transparency builds trust among our users, and increases the usability and accessibility of our data, ultimately democratizing the use of reliable geospatial data for critical problem solving. These values will always be front and center in our strategy as we continue to grow.

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If you’d like to learn more about SafeGraph data, check out our free datasets or schedule a demo with one of our experts. We’re here to help.


Why is transparency important in data? ›

Data transparency provides customers with an inside look into how their data is collected and used. This data usage must be ethical and within the confines of the law. With data transparency, customers should know why you need their data, how their information is gathered, where it is stored, and how it is protected.

Why is it important for a company to be transparent? ›

Transparency strengthens business accountability

By making data readily available to employees and the public, leaders can hold their businesses accountable and ensure that every step the organization takes is in its own best interest.

What are the 5 advantages of transparency? ›

5 Benefits of More Transparency in Your Workplace
  • Increased employee engagement. ...
  • Higher-quality, better-fit candidates in your recruitment efforts. ...
  • Fewer barriers to innovation. ...
  • Enhanced member service. ...
  • Clear-eyed leadership.

What does transparency of data mean? ›

Data transparency is both “the ability to easily access and work with data no matter where they are located or what application created them” and “the assurance that data being reported are accurate and are coming from the official source.”

What is the main objective of transparency? ›

Transparency International is the global civil society organization leading the fight against corruption. It brings people together in a powerful worldwide coalition to end the devastating impact of corruption on men, women and children around the world.

How do I make data more transparent? ›

Only Collect Necessary Data

One of the easiest ways to improve data transparency is to reduce the amount being collected. It can be tempting for software developers to collect a broad range of information with the reasoning that it's better to have and not need.

What is a good example of transparency? ›

When you're transparent with the people on your team, you not only model transparency but demonstrate its benefits too. For example, be honest and admit when you don't know an answer; don't fake one. Acknowledge when you're wrong; it's better than failing because you can't admit an error.

How can companies become transparent? ›

How can a business create transparency? The number one way to be more transparent is to implement open-book management practices. The financial information provided in an open-book approach creates an ownership culture in which employees start to see the business in the same way owners and executives see it.

Why is it important to be transparent with employees? ›

Transparency in the workplace is a philosophy that promotes open and honest communication among employees at all levels of an organization. It's important to be transparent with your team because it allows them to feel comfortable approaching you for feedback or expressing their feelings about an assignment.

What is transparency in short answer? ›

The right and the means to examine the process of decision making is known as transparency. In politics, transparency is used as a means of holding public officials accountable and fighting corruption.

What are the values of transparency? ›

This value links to the principles of honesty and openness from the Code of Ethics. We are transparent in our actions, decisions and communications with both the people we work with and those we serve. This ensures that we are honest and open in our interactions and decision making.

What is transparency and examples? ›

Transparency is the condition of being see-through. An example of transparency is the fact that you can see through glass. YourDictionary. (figuratively) Openness, degree of accessibility to view.

What is transparency and why is it necessary? ›

Transparency is the quality of being easily seen through, while transparency in a business or governance context refers to being open and honest. As part of corporate governance best practices, this requires disclosure of all relevant information so that others can make informed decisions.

Does transparency improve performance? ›

Being transparent improves trust at work

In fact, PwC stats have shown that employees in high-trust work environments were a whopping 76% more engaged than employees from low-trust environments. And as we'll always take the chance to point out, engagement plays a key role in financial productivity.

What does transparent mean in the workplace? ›

A transparent workplace promotes a two-way conversation between employees and management and openly and honestly discusses matters pertaining to business performance, goals, objectives, and more. Everyone may also provide feedback concerning decisions, performance, and business objectives.

What does transparent mean in data protection? ›

The principle of transparency requires that any information or communication relating to the processing of personal data is easily accessible and easy to understand, and that clear and plain language be used.

How can lack of transparency be improved? ›

Four ways to improve transparency within your organisation
  1. Communication. In order to be transparent, one needs to communicate effectively - it's imperative. ...
  2. Sharing information. Making relevant information readily available for people is an important way of improving transparency. ...
  3. Rationale. ...
  4. Embed the culture.

How transparency in business leads to customer growth and loyalty? ›

If a company is honest and transparent with its customers, the marketplace will regard it highly and respect it more. Organizations establish brand loyalty by strengthening the bond of trust between company and customer. Customer transparency boosts sales. Brand loyalty means repeat business, which is desirable.

What are the three types of transparency? ›

We can classify transparency into three degrees : opaqueness, translucency and clarity.

What is excellent transparency? ›

“Transparency is the practice of being open and honest with others, no matter how challenging it might be. For both personal and professional relationships to thrive, you need to eliminate the stigma that comes with being straightforward.” Encouraged transparency means being straightforward and leading by example.

How do you know if a company is transparent? ›

Five Ways To Identify A Company With A Culture Of Transparency
  1. They Communicate the Company's Vision and Mission Statement. ...
  2. They Tell the Whole Truth. ...
  3. They Don't Delay Dispensing Information. ...
  4. They Make Important Documents Available. ...
  5. They Establish Trust Through Social Media.
Mar 11, 2018

What happens when companies are not transparent? ›

Team members who feel uninformed about the business are less likely to trust their manager and executives. A lack of transparency fosters an “us vs. them” culture where team members don't feel safe about discussing workplace and personal issues. They may quit instead of bringing their job concerns to management.

What does it mean to be transparent? ›

: fine or sheer enough to be seen through : diaphanous. : free from pretense or deceit : frank. : easily detected or seen through : obvious. : readily understood.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of transparency? ›

The pros of information transparency
  • Transparency fosters trust. ...
  • You open yourself up to more feedback. ...
  • Your team have a full context of an information. ...
  • Transparency can lead to information overload. ...
  • Your team might not be able to see the big picture. ...
  • It may leave the business open for attack.
Nov 12, 2019

Why is transparency a good trait? ›

Consistently transparent behavior in leadership demonstrates the value of each employee so that everyone feels like they have a voice. The resulting employee satisfaction and engagement can drive results for years to come. Ultimately, transparency creates an open, honest culture that benefits everyone involved.

What are the three types of transparent? ›

Transparent, translucent and opaque are the materials that can be classified based on the amount of light they transmit. If we cannot see through an object at all, it is an opaque object.


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