Dozens of federal agencies check in at Foursquare

Geographic social media site offers tips for federal building visits

The cafeteria in the Treasury Department’s headquarters serves cookies fresh from the oven on weekdays at 11 a.m. The Veterans Affairs Department’s building on Vermont Avenue in Northwest Washington is cool inside, so bring a sweater when visiting.

These are two tips that users of the Foursquare geographic social media Web site have shared about dozens of federal buildings located in Washington.

At least 17 departments and dozens of agencies are represented on Foursquare as "venues" — places associated with a geographic location or address and a map of their location — that users can tag when they visit those locations.

The Foursquare Web site has been gaining popularity and recently achieved a benchmark of 40 million total check-ins by visitors to date. The goal of the project is to provide users with a guide to their cities, an incentive to visit new locations and a way to notify their friends that they are currently at a specific venue. Facebook is rumored to be preparing to add geographic features to its Web site as well.

The Foursquare user who is visiting the venue in real life “checks-in” using a mobile phone or other device. Retailers are using Foursquare to offer rewards and prizes to users who check in at their locations as part of a promotion. Visitors who check in may leave tips about the location. Foursquare also recognizes "mayors" — users who have checked in the most times in the last 60 days — for each venue.

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On Foursquare to date, the Transportation Department’s headquarters venue has logged the most check-ins among federal departments with 767. The next most popular federal government locations on Foursqure, by number of check-ins, are:

  • Labor Department, 722.
  • State Department, 552.
  • Energy Department, 534.
  • USDA, 466.
  • Veterans Affairs Department, 405.
  • Health and Human Services Department, 393.
  • Justice Department, 361.
  • Treasury Department, 359.
  • Interior Department, 306.
  • Commerce Department, 283.
  • Housing and Urban Development Department, 123.

Many other agencies also have venues for their headquarters, including the General Services Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, NASA and the Social Security Administration.

Many of the venues are headquarters buildings; however, the State Department café and gym have their own venue listings, as does the Interior Department’s penthouse.

Visitors have left a number of tips about the federal building venues. A NASA headquarters visitor wrote: “Go for a visit and if you can go for a Tweetup - Awesome event with swag, space alumni and more.” And a USDA employee highly recommended the kettle corn in the cafeteria on Wednesdays.


About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.


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