Visualize Foursquare Location History

I started using Foursquare at the end of 2012 and kept with it even after it became the pointless muck that is Swarm. Since I’ve now got 4 years of location history (ie, check-ins) data, I decided to visualize and map it with Python, matplotlib, and basemap. The code is available in this GitHub repo. It’s easy to re-purpose to visualize your own check-in history: you just need to plug in your Foursquare OAuth token then run the notebook.

First the notebook downloads all my check-ins from the Foursquare API. Then I mapped all of them, using matplotlib basemap.

Map of Foursquare Swarm check-in location history

Basemap is a fantastic, simple way to project and map geospatial data attractively with Python (here, using the Kavrayskiy projection). So, most of my Foursquare/Swarm check-ins are unsurprisingly in the U.S. and along the west coast. What countries other than the U.S. have I checked-into the most?

Foursquare Swarm most common countries checked into

Outside of the U.S., I’ve checked-in to Spain more than any other country. Conversely, which cities (total, including the U.S.) have I checked-into the most?

Foursquare Swarm most common cities checked into

Berkeley dominates, which is unsurprising because I live and work in Berkeley. Other bay area cities (San Francisco and Oakland) likewise come in second and third. What types of places have I checked-into the most?

Foursquare Swarm most common venue categories checked into

I guess these venue categories reveal the highs and lows of PhD student life: college buildings, libraries, bars, and breweries. Beyond categories, what specific places (aka, Foursquare “venues”) have I checked-into the most?

Foursquare Swarm most common venues checked into

So the top four venues are all buildings on UC Berkeley’s campus. Two others are bars near my house in Berkeley. The rest of the top venues comprise my closest grocery store, transit station, and airport.

Foursquare/Swarm check-ins over time

How has my check-in behavior changed over time? Have I used Foursquare/Swarm differently at different times?

Foursquare Swarm check-ins per month

Clearly I have used it much more in some months than in others. While I checked-in more in general when the app was new to me, there are also a lot of spikes correlated with times I was on vacation or out of town. The valleys tend to be mid-semester when I was busy at school and not going out and about much. What about by day of the week?

Foursquare Swarm check-ins per day of the week

Fridays and Saturdays have the most check-ins, because I’m going out more on those days. But there isn’t a drastic difference in daily check-in activity. What about by hour of the day?

Foursquare Swarm check-ins per hour of the day

My check-in activity peaks around mid-day before hitting another mini peak in the late afternoon; from there it trails off into the night.

You can visualize your own Foursquare/Swarm check-in history using my Python code in this GitHub repo. Just plug in your own Foursquare OAuth token, then run the notebook. You might also be interested in mapping everywhere you’ve ever been.

4 thoughts on “Visualize Foursquare Location History”

  1. I wanted to do similar but the foursquare xml only downloaded a week’s worth of data. I’ve been on Foursquare/Swarm since 2010. Any advice?

    1. I’d suggest using the JSON API like I do in my code, instead of working with XML. Then just make sure your offsets are correct when you loop through the API requests one at a time.

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