With Factual, 1 API now unlocks data for 55 million places

Application developers can now use one API to access data from Factual’s marketplace that contains data on more than 55 million places worldwide. And, as of today, that data includes places in China and Canada, as well as a dedicated “restaurants” data set that categorizes eateries across 43 different characteristics. It’s not data nirvana just yet, but Factual points to what our data-driven future might look like.

Factual, which was founded by AdSense creator Gil Elbaz (s goog) , is a data marketplace that focuses primarily on “place” data — restaurants, businesses, points of interest, etc. It also includes a variety of data sets in areas such as health, government, education and entertainment. They can be downloaded in their entirety or developers can access them via API.

Previously, however, developers wanting access to Factual’s motherlode of place data had to use a different API for each of the 50 countries the information spans. Now, there’s just one API, which should make Factual a much more valuable service because it makes developers’ lives so much easier. And with the rising popularity of geo-local apps, Factual could find a lot of developers.

The new restaurant data set might not seem too groundbreaking — it’s just another, more-focused collection of places, after all — but its depth demonstrates how rich data markets such as Factual can get. Developers aren’t limited to information such as name, address and phone number, but also can present restaurants by parking availability, kid-friendliness, meal options and other criteria.

Factual is just one of numerous data marts now available, including popular ones such as InfoChimps and newcomers such as Datafiniti. Their methods are all somewhat unique, but the promise is the same: give developers easy access to mountains of valuable data that would take too much effort for any individual to gather on their own, and let their creativity take over from there. Right now, the result might seem like a lot of restaurant-review sites and check-in services, but apps will evolve in a hurry as developers get more used to working with such vast amounts of information.