26 Oct 2015

Why drilling down is key to useful GIS data

Alissa Sklar is the director of marketing for GIS Planning. She has extensive experience as a consultant, writer and educator in the fields of technology and communications. Dr. Sklar has a Ph.D. in Communications from the University of Massachusetts of Amherst, and has as worked closely with B2Bs and economic development agencies to assess, develop and implement social media strategies for business development.

Often, the only thing that makes data useful is its granularity, or just how far it drills down.

 Cherokee County Heat Maps GIS data

Consider the following scenarios:


I flew out to Vancouver this past weekend to do some marketing training for BCEDA, and I found myself with a free evening to explore a wonderful city I hadn’t visited in 20 years. I decided to choose a restaurant for dinner, so I turned to Yelp. I wanted something near the Harbourfront, so I plugged that in. Magically, a list of top choices appeared. I mapped them, checked out reviews, and made a choice I thoroughly enjoyed.


Not too long ago, my family had a free evening together to see a movie. With three teen girls, this doesn’t happen too often anymore, so we seized the opportunity. We turned to Flixster to search for what was playing around us. We had some good-natured arguments about the reviews, but finally chose a film all five of us would see in a nearby theatre. Score one for technology-assisted family harmony.


But imagine if the data hadn’t drilled down quite that far. What if Yelp just told me how many restaurants were open for dinner in Vancouver (or western BC?), but couldn’t tell me which were in the waterfront area? What if they couldn’t show me what was where? It would be useless.


Similarly, what if Flixster just listed all the theatres in the entire county? What if I couldn’t plot them out around a particular address? I may as well just go back to the low tech newspaper listings.


It’s the same when it comes to GIS site selection software. In fact, it’s even more important, because it’s safe to say the financial risk in your average business investment is considerably more than the cost of dinner in a nice restaurant, or a night at the movies for a family of five (the high cost of concession popcorn notwithstanding).


That’s why ZoomProspector Enterprise and all of our Intelligence Components drill right down to the zip code (or postal code on our Canadian applications). How can an investor choose a site or property location without a comprehensive, detailed analysis of demographics, labor force, consumer spending, business and industry? They will be interested in radius and drive time analyses (which is why we can analyze from 1 to 60 miles around an address or pinpoint), and custom polygraph


We’ve always found it interesting that some other vendors can only drill down as far as county level. They do this because county level is plentiful and inexpensive. But ask yourself what that macro level data offers to an investor considering your community. If you can’t choose a restaurant or a movie theatre without detailed, focused data, how can you locate a business without it? If investors can’t find the data they need, they may just choose to look elsewhere.


Want to know more about how ZoomProspector Enterprise or Intelligence Components can work for your location




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