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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

At a special interest group session at MapInfo’s MapWorld conference in Phoenix among retailers and real estate users, someone in the audience asked if anyone had a GIS Department? GIS Department? "No…I’m in the real estate department…no retailer that I know has a GIS Department."

However, Blockbuster Video is one of the few commercial companies with a GIS Department. A long time MapInfo user and one of the first companies to deploy Oracle Spatial in 1996-7, Blockbuster won one of MapInfo’s "Meridian Awards" in the category of Organizational Impact. It’s BULIT, or Blocbuster Ultimate Location Intelligence Tool, is a model that many should perhaps follow. BULIT supports applications in marketing, development, operations, finance, stragetic planning,  alternate brands and others.

by Joe Francica on 05/03 at 04:32 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

MapInfo comissioned a market research survey by Business Week Magazine to poll corporations who were likely to or were already using location intelligence (LI) solutions. The results:

6% were already using LI

7% were currently evaluating LI

21% plan to be evaluating LI in 2007

Taken a slightly different way, 3 times the number of corporations will be evaluating the technology next year. Mike Hickey, COO of MapInfo sees this as a signal that LI is coming out of the early adoption phase and into the next part of the growth curve.

In another survey conuducted by MapInfo among 1000 users of business intelligence (BI) solutions, 79% said they found location-based information that was integrated with their BI tools as "more than somewhat likely" to be valuable. However, 7% said LI was extremely valuable to them and that it could be used now.

by Joe Francica on 05/03 at 04:21 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

You know how exhibitors have toys and games to attract attention to their booths at trade shows? The one at the ESRI Business GeoInfo Summit wasn’t a toy at all. It actually mapped!

The robot, Sarah, has a laser range finder, video camera, and harddrive and can be remote controlled to map an indoor environment. She’s one of the smaller units in Penobscot Bay Media’s fleet, but she was the talk of the floor. As the staff explained it to me, more an more floor plans are out of date and realtors don’t know what they are selling. Hence the need for these mapping robots. More complex siblings can carry sensors and send back real time information, often from places people would rather not venture.

I was impressed with the raw maps Sarah made of the floor. These can be enhanced by technicians who can help interpret what the objects are (to her they are just things) and add 3D visualization. Penobscot Bay uses the robots to perform service work for the
most part, serving the real estate industry.

by Adena Schutzberg on 05/03 at 10:24 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

From Eugene Oregon comes a proposal to add a new type of public transportation : the TaxiBus. It’s a minibus that acts as a taxi - picking people where they are and dropping them where they are going. Ideally it could funding with payment paralleling that of regular bus service. But, there are few differences: TaxiBuses do not have defined routes and go where people need to go by use GPS and logistics routing (the same used by Fedex, the article says). TaxiBuses are typically at capacity of 15 or so. TaxiBuses charge fares directly to credit cards, so there’s no fumbling for tokens or change.

It sounds great, but a website dedicated to the idea does not include details of where such programs are underway. Shouldn’t we have tried this idea somewhere by now?

The idea reminds me of a minibus service we had in my home town for a few years when I was in high school. These were really buses, with determined routes, that traveled the suburban community of 25,000. I took it when I was too tired to walk home from track practice, but it didn’t get enough ridership and shut down quickly.

by Adena Schutzberg on 05/03 at 07:53 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

While I respect that many companies are ready to implement integrated GIS and ERP, CRM and BI solutions, many are just trying to use GIS to achieve their business goals. I was pleased to find a session titled “Market Analsyis” which dealt with pretty straightforward GIS use in business that made a difference in the final afternoon of the ESRI Business GeoInfo Summit.

Susan Zwillinger did tips and tricks sesssion for Business Analyst. It was one of those very popular “I’m not a programmer, but here are things that you can do that can immediately boost your productivity.” I liked that a non-ESRI employee presented this topic, and to see all the folks asking for her presentation afterwards made me think this might be a great ESRI Virtual Campus Session.

Pat Wellen of the Boy Scouts of America described how that organization has evolved in its use of TAY (Total Available Youth) data to help local council recruit more Scouts. Of paticular interest to me were what the local councils learned about how to market. In one area fliers were put out in outboard motors showrooms. Turns out there’s a high overlap of potential scouting families with boaters! In another, after learning that Mom usually makes the decision to enroll boys in Scouting, they turned to advertising during soap operas. They also used GIS to present a case for foundation founding for a program to reach out to underserved youth. Wellen was confident their complete report helped them win the founding.

My favorite presentation of the whole event was from Robert Chetham from Avencia. He was standing in for his wife, Rachael Richard, who works at the Wilma Theatre in Philadelphia. Turns out Avencia, a GIS consulting firm that focuses on Web mapping, has a pro bono program to help non-profits with GIS…and the theatre took it up on that to examine its subscriber, donor and single ticket buyer distribution to aid in growing all three. With some very basic mapping (and some very basic freely available data) the theatre learned about pockets of subscribers in places it didn’t expect - like Camden. It also learned, and I found this particularly interesting, that the demographics of subscribers and donors were very close, suggesting to me at least it’s possible for one to be encouraged to join the ranks of the other.

by Adena Schutzberg on 05/03 at 07:37 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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