MobileScapes EA Geofences Library FAQs

I would like to request a change for a record or polygon. How can I achieve this?

To request for a record or polygon to be modified, added or removed, please fill in this form: GeoFence Feedback ( in new window

What is an EA geofence?

EA has undertaken a large-scale effort to build a vast layer of geofences for Canadian commercial, institutional, and recreational locations.

A geofence – or a ‘geographic fence’ – is a spatial polygon definition representing the footprint of a location (retail store, park, entertainment venue, etc.) By creating a bounding definition for a location, we can attribute visitors to said location by capturing mobile device pings that physically fall within a geofence. The geofences are NOT available for sale outside of the MobileScapes products and we are unable to release a database of addresses attached to the geofences outside of the ENVISION software. 

How accurate are location data and geofences?

The licensed geofences are created as accurately as possible based on the satellite imagery at the time of the geofence creation. Geofences undergo a rigorous quality control process before they are released for use. Nonetheless, the results of any analysis using geofences and mobile movement data are an approximation and should be interpreted directionally. At present, the EA Geofence Product is the most comprehensive and accurate database of geofences, addresses, location names and categories that can be used to monitor changes in movement and behaviour in Canada. The geofences are drawn, and then quality checks are done to ensure the accuracy of the drawings.

How is a geofence created?

Referencing satellite imagery, geofences are digitized by geographers and spatial specialists. Efforts are made to capture the most accurate footprint for the building or location of interest. In cases where a building is mixed-use, we use flags to help users understand whether visitors may be frequenting a location for multiple reasons (additional details below).

I can’t find my geofence within the database. Why is that?

  • A business is permanently closed
  • A business is in an area we are unable to digitize (I.e., schools, residential homes, fields, etc.)
  • A business cannot be drawn as it does not exist on satellite imagery (I.e, it is too remote)
  • A business is a seasonal activity (I.e., food stands at fairs, temporary patios, etc.)
  • A business does not meet our category definition rules (see section II. Category Definition for additional information)

What is primary vs. non-primary?

Locations with the same building footprint are classified as primary or non-primary locations, and the geofences are flagged to represent that classification.

A classification of primary (Flag = True) is given to the main location or location that more accurately represents the visitors’ purpose or main reason for visiting the geofence. The non-primary classification (Flag = False) is given to the location representing a visitor’s secondary purpose in the geofence. For instance, if a Walmart location also has a McDonald’s in its footprint, Walmart is classified as the primary location (Flag = True), and McDonald’s will be classified as non-primary (Flag = False). Visitors to this geofence have the primary purpose of shopping at Walmart. 

How do you geofence businesses within a multi-story mall? A one-story mall?

Anchor locations within shopping malls that can clearly be spatially distinguished from other locations have their own geofences (this includes multi-story anchors or single-story). These are classified as Type = Unique and Primary flag = True geofences. For the remaining locations within malls and multi-story malls, the entire mall geofence is used because visitors cannot be distinguished for an individual store. Because altitude is not captured, there is no way to distinguish visitors to different mall floors or levels.

Double-counting will occur if users aggregate MobileScapes results for a mall anchor and a mall OR a mall anchor and another location within the mall. To avoid this double-counting, it is recommended that when users are selecting multiple geofences and using the Aggregate option. Similar to primary locations, we have indicated this within the ‘Name’ field – for example “Sterling Mall including Guardian”.

If the location of interest is within a multi-story location with multiple uses (i.e.. commercial and residential), can the tool distinguish between visitors, employees and residents?

Any device with a home or work location (common evening or common daytime location) within the geofence is removed. However, if there are multiple uses within a building footprint, none of which are workplaces or residential, then the visitors to each of these cannot be distinguished. The Type=’shared’ flag can help users identify scenarios where a geofence represents multiple locations and, therefore, visitors to multiple locations.

Can I distinguish between devices in the retail on ground floor compared to devices in apartments above and/or below?

At this time, altitude is not factored into the product. However, any device with a home or work location (common evening or common daytime location) within the geofence is removed.

My geofence of interest has opened a temporary and/or seasonal extension (e.g. a patio); will this be included in the geofence?

Temporary and/or seasonal extensions are not included in the product; extensions are only drawn if they are a permanent structure. For instance, patios in parking lots during COVID-19 are not permanent and are not included.

My geofence of interest has a parking lot. How does this impact my visitor data?

Parking lots are not included within geofences. Note about Auto Dealerships: we do not consider auto dealership lots ‘parking lots’ as they are the sales floor and include merchandise for these locations; as such, these lots outside the building footprint are included within auto dealership geofences. For auto dealerships with separate/adjacent buildings for separate brands that share a parking lot, the lots are split using judgment and best practices.

My geofence of interest has a drive-thru and/or walk-up service; how does this impact my visitor data?

Only the pickup/pay area of a drive-thru is included in the geofence, and not the entire drive-thru lane or path. This ensures that the geofence does not inadvertently capture any car/foot traffic not necessarily frequenting the business location of interest.

My geofence of interest is located on the ground floor of a tall building. Considering the lean of tall buildings, how accurate is my visitor data?

On satellite imagery, very tall buildings (20 stories or more) can appear to lean to one side or another. In these cases, we capture the footprint rather than the rooftop of the building to best represent the location of interest.

A road or railroad runs through my geofence; does this impact the accuracy of my visitor data?

When a greenspace geofence intersects with major roads, highways, or railroads, buffer sizes ranging from 10 to 22 metres are assigned according to road types. For all other sub-categories, where a road or railroad runs through the geofence, these cannot be separated from the use itself and present some risk that noise from the road/railroad could be introduced.

Could my geofence include foot traffic or car traffic from a nearby road or sidewalk?

Only pings caught within a geofence boundary are included. However, a device’s coordinates are not perfectly accurate with mobile movement data, so some pings may unintentionally be captured within a geofence. To reduce this unwanted effect, we take special care in cutting out major road and railroad segments for select geofence types.

What is and is not included in fuel & convenience geofences?


  • Main Building (i.e. where customers pay)
  • Gas Pumps
  • On-site and Same Banner
    • Laundromats
    • Restaurants
    • Oil Change Stations
    • Car Washes
    • Air Pump Stations
    • Vacuum Stations


  • Cardlock Locations - unmanned fuel stations with 18-wheel access that are specifically made for businesses

How should users query for the “Fuel”, “Fuel and Convenience” and “Convenience” subcategories?

“Fuel” and “Convenience” Subcategories

To identify fuel-only or convenience-only locations, filter on the “Retail: Fuel” and “Retail: Convenience” categories and search via the “Name” or “Banner” field in ENVISION.

Note: The database does not include stand-alone mum & pop fuel or convenience shops.

“Fuel and Convenience” Subcategory

Major Banner Co-Locations
To identify major Fuel and Convenience banners that co-locate or share the same geofence, you can only do so by filtering to the “Retail: Fuel and Convenience” Category and searching via the “Location Name” field in ENVISION (see E.g. 3 below).

Mum & Pop and Major Banner Co-Locations

To identify a major Fuel and/or Convenience banner that is co-located or shares the same geofence with a mum & pop shop, filter on the “Retail: Fuel and Convenience” Category field in ENVISION (see E.g. 4 below).

No. Example Description  Name  Category  Banner Location Names
1 Fuel-only Esso location Esso (126 Circle Lane) Retail: Fuel Esso Esso
2 Convenience-only Circle K location Circle K (23 Thompson Dr) Retail: Convenience Circle K Circle K
3 Co-located Esso and Circle K location Esso (45 Shipley Rd) Retail: Fuel and Convenience (Major banner co-location) Esso

Esso, Circle K

4 Co-located Esso and mum & pop convenience Esso Esso (222 Bank Rd) Retail: Fuel and Convenience (mum & pop co-location) Esso Esso


Why may a power centre geofence include an auto dealership lot, drive-thru window, or patio area rather than just the building footprint?

For some businesses in our EA geofence library, customers may only visit an area outside the building footprint for that business. For these identified businesses, these external components were included within the geofence to ensure visitors to the business are being captured with the geofence.

What does the modification code mean, and how do I interpret it?

Modification Code Descriptions
Modification Codes  Geofence Implications 
First Character = Name change
0 = no change
1 = change

First Character: No Implications

Second Character = Descriptive field change
0 = no change
1 = Location Name, Banner Name, or Parent Company Name change
Second Character: No Implications
Third Character = Geofence fields
0 = no change
1 = Geofence shape adjustment
2 = Geofence relocation
Third Character: If you run the geofence with old versus new geofences, results will differ
Fourth Character = Primary Status Change
0 = no change
1 = change
Fourth Character: No Implications
Fifth Character Change = Geofence Type Change
0 = no change
1 = change
Fifth Character: No Implications
Sixth Character Change = Category/Sub Category Change
0 = no change
1 = change
Sixth Character: No Implications


Why does my location of interest no longer exist within the geofence library?

A location can be removed from the geofence library for several reasons:

  • It is permanently closed
  • The banner under which it belongs no longer meets our set of business rules (e.g., grocery banners must have 5+ locations nationally, ensuring the key players within the category are captured)
  • It can no longer be drawn due to updated, poor-quality satellite imagery

If you would like a location to be re-added, please submit a change request (to be evaluated by the team on a case-by-case basis).

How were criteria established for the categories, subcategories and banners included within the product?

EA relies on our industry knowledge and a large team of analysts to identify and classify locations.

Major categories of interest are identified from a business point of view, using North American Industry
Classification System (NAICS 2017) codes and business acuity. These categories are meant to be a group of goods and services with common supply and demand drivers and are identified based on their relevance and importance within the Canadian business landscape.

Categories have subcategories to provide greater granularity. Subcategories are meant to be a logical subgrouping within a category with similar goods, services and market characteristics that enable a horizontal analysis by customers (e.g. how many visitors are going to retailers by city?).

Appropriate banners were selected based on business rules (e.g. 5 or more locations, being mindful of the business objectives and use cases for clients. The aim is to capture the key players and drivers within a category or subcategory of interest).

A detailed table is available on the MobileScapes Geofence Explorer Field Descriptions & Categories Listopens in new window page.