Foursquare Timeline

Within two years of its creation, Foursquare has attracted over four million users and was recently announced a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum.

System Specifications

  • Bandwidth (Why Medium?): Because the content Foursquare is sending back to its clients isn’t too large or too intricate, it doesn’t need a high quantity of bandwidth. On the other hand, Foursquare receives a lot of traffic and needs to send accurate information quickly. To facilitate that speed, it uses a moderate amount of bandwidth.
  • CPU (Why High?): There are several operations occurring that deal with geospatial location, display, and personal information while a client is using Fousquare. All of these commands require a large amount of computing power.
  • Disk (Why High?): Ever since Foursquare became available worldwide, it has had to incorporate a large amount of disk space to accommodate all the information it would have to store.
  • RAM (Why High?): To pull up the information about the various venues in the users proximity, Foursquare servers need a lot of RAM to speed this process along.
  • Scalability (Why Medium?): The server architecture at Foursquare is built to take on a high amount of traffic, but crashes at Foursquare data centers are not unheard of. So far, Foursquare is still looking for a long term, more scalable hosting solution.

Location-based social networking application, Foursquare, was created in 2009 by Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai for use on the web and mobile devices. Within two years of its creation, Foursquare has attracted over four million users and was recently announced a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum.

The object of Foursquare is real-time interaction with friends by “checking in” at different venues through GPS and PDA applications, which allows a user’s friends to find his or her current location on the Foursquare map. Users collect points with every “check in,” posting their locations on their Twitter and Facebook accounts. Badges can also be earned by checking in at locations with certain tags, by repeat check-ins, or by checking in at certain times of the day. The most frequent visitors of a venue can also be crowned “Mayor.”Other features include the ability to make a personal “To Do” list and to write “Tips” for other users to read about certain venues.

Initially, Foursquare was only available to 100 worldwide metro areas, but as of January 2010, the service has been available to users at any location worldwide. Foursquare-enabled mobile devices include iPhone, Android, webOS, Windows Phone 7, and Blackberry.

Benefits for Businesses
Some businesses are using Foursquare as a tool for rewarding their most frequent visitors. Foursquare provides a free analytics report that details who is checking-in at their locations and gives them the ability to market to their customers via the popular mobile application. As a result, Foursquare is becoming a valuable tool for businesses to boost customer loyalty through promotions and awards.

Foursquare Technology
The location-based technology of Foursquare has a wide range of applications for mobile devices, such as asset recovery, turn-by-turn navigation, receiving local news alerts, and locating businesses or other services, to name a few. The forerunners of the technology were the infrared Active Badge System of the early ‘90s, Microsoft’s Wi-Fi-based indoor location system RADAR, of 2000, MIT’s Cricket project, and Intel’s Place Lab project of 2003.

Foursquare is looking for a long term hosting solution for its surging user base. It has outgrown a static hosting environment and is apparently searching for an in-house remedy which will allow for the processing power to accommodate its 4.5 million registered users while scaling highly complex databases. It is unclear the exact setup Foursquare is architecting.


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McMahan, Ty. “Foursquare Among World Economic Forum’s ‘Tech Pioneers’.” The Wall Street Journal. (accessed September 26, 2010).

Mistry, Nilay. “Mobile Phone Tracking.” Scribd. (accessed September 26, 2010).

Snow, Shane. “Inside Foursquare: Checking In Before the Party Started.” Wired. (accessed September 25, 2010).

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