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A Look at iSITE 4.7

Originally featured in Geospatial Solutions, this article has been provided by geoVue, September 05, 2001

geoVue provides clients with integrated solutions that combine high-resolution digital maps with extensive libraries of market data in a single, easy-to-use package. With iSITE, users ranging from senior management to support staff can produce presentation quality analyses via PC, Web or Palm Pilot in minutes, with little or no training (Source: geoVue.com)
Realizing the potential afforded to business geographers by incorporating LSPs with GIS, Geonomics Inc., a distributor of Experian LSP data, has added value to Mosaic by integrating it into its iSITE software. Geonomics also offers a variety of optional data packages that have been selected for the value they add to various niche industry segments.

A combined software and data product, iSITE 4.7 is an add-in to Caliper Corporation's Maptitude desktop GIS software. The target market for iSITE 4.7 is practitioners engaged in site analysis for multibranch retail facilities. Version 4.1 of iSITE was reviewed in 1999 (Thrall, 1999). The new features that have been added to iSITE during the past two years include the capability to simultaneously evaluate multiple sites and LSPs of designated trade areas. Users can now also build libraries of trade areas so that when data are updated, the analyst need not again specify the spatial parameters of the trade area.

iSITE is written in Caliper's macro scripting language, known as GISDK. iSITE, therefore, requires that Maptitude also be installed on the user's computer. Maptitude is a full-featured desktop GIS software program (see Comenetz, 2000; Thrall and Thrall, 2000) with some specific advanced features -- such as shortest-path algorithms. Its sub-$400 price tag, which includes TIGER/Line and U.S. census data, has made Maptitude a popular GIS engine for software developers targeting small niche markets. The user accesses iSITE via Maptitude's Tools Add-ins pull-down menu. A dialog box displays the list of available add-ins. The user then selects the iSITE option.

LSPs in action

In conjunction, iSITE, Profiler 2.5, and Mosaic LSPs provide business geographers with a very effective tool for marketing, site selection, and an array of other applications. For example, say that a business geographer is searching for geographic neighborhoods categorized as dominated by a particular classification of Experian's Mosaic LSPs, such as classification E26, which Mosaic's documentation describes as "Older, high-income families mainly in the Northeast." Mosaic data documentation further describes the category of E26 households as older, financially successful, and descended from Italian or Irish immigrants. Other descriptive terms for the group include "winners," who like to travel to Canada and Alaska, gamble, and read the New York Times.

Using iSITE software, the business geographer can explore for geographic pockets of E26 households that are the prime target for a particular retail product. iSITE presents the user with a series of large numbered buttons. The first button opens a dialog box prompting the user to input a general locational beginning for the analysis, such as a city or county. Say Nassau County, New York, is chosen. The user then clicks on iSITE's Display Theme button to create a thematic map and next clicks on Mosaic's LSP data to be used in the thematic map. Within the Display Theme wizard, the business geographer can also choose numerical breaking values for the theme and theme colors.

Instead of displaying Mosaic profiles as irregularly shaped block-group polygons, the business geographer may prefer to display the Mosaic profiles as 1-square-mile grids. (Display of geodemographic data with 1-square-mile grids follows a longstanding convention in business.) This somewhat complex polygon overlay is easily executed in the new version of iSITE simply by selecting the Custom Grid button within the Display Theme wizard. iSITE then links to Maptitude's GIS functionality to construct the 1-square-mile grid, perform the polygon overlay, and thereby assign appropriate LSP values to the grid from the underlying block-group polygons. In this manner, iSITE creates and saves a grid depicting the desired geography (see Figure 1). The experienced business geographer can then interpret this grid geography in the context of how a prospective retail store might perform at different locations (see Thrall and del Valle, 1996).



FIGURE 1 - iSITE can link to Maptitude's GIS functionality to construct a 1-square-mile grid, perform polygon overlay, and assign appropriate LSP values to the grid from the underlying block-group polygons.

A word of warning, though. Before creating a custom grid, the program user should first visualize the thematic data at its native geographic scale -- in this instance the block-group level. The native geographic scale provides a benchmark on which the reasonableness for having chosen a custom grid can be evaluated. Otherwise, the program user exposes himself or herself to a greater possibility of making geographic-based judgmental errors (Thrall, 1998).

To help with judgment, the grid thematic map of Figure 1 can also be made more user friendly with the addition of labels that display Mosaic scores for each custom square grid. Moreover, within iSITE, the program user can combine several LSP groups in a formulaic manner to arrive at a composite score. The business geographer can then view a numerical score for each grid cell. This enables the user to identify hot pockets of target demographic groups and subsequently pinpoint a new retail facility location to that group. Figure 2 shows a zoom-in on such a neighborhood with numerical values for each grid.

Multisite functionality. iSITE 4.7 can also produce reports for multiple sites using Experian's Mosaic LSP or other databases. For instance, a business geographer might geocode three hospitals in the study area described in Figure 1 and 2 using iSITE's multisite functionality, which takes advantage of Maptitude's street address geocoding capability to store the three sites in iSITE's Site Library. iSITE 4.7 can geocode using address, street intersection, location of shopping center, ZIP-code centroid, U.S. city centroid, county centroid, state centroid, known latitude/longitude coordinates, or by clicking on an active map.

In iSITE's multisite analysis, the program user would first evaluate a single site and then return to the start of iSITE to add the other two hospital locations. Then, the business geographer can use iSITE to produce reports based on concentric rings, drive times, custom polygons, and standard polygon geographies, such as MSAs and counties. For example, the business geographer can choose to generate reports for the three hospitals based upon three-, five-, and seven-minute drive times, using the characteristics of the Nassau-Suffolk MSA as the benchmark for the iSITE report. Fig-ure 3 shows a trade-area map for three sites and three ranges of estimated drive times from each site. Notice that iSITE's multisite analysis does not calculate interaction between the separate sites; therefore, there are no estimates of cannibalization based on closest proximity to a site. The user, however, can produce a custom polygon within iSITE and calculate the overlap.

iSITE can output the final report as a screen print or in FoxPro, Microsoft Excel, and Adobe PDF formats (Adobe version "5D to Pdf" is bundled with iSITE). The FoxPro/Adobe 5D option allows the user to customize the report with bitmap logos to make it boardroom ready.

A powerful package

LSPs are a powerful business geographic tool. Experian's Mosaic LSP database offers geographic coverage for the entire United States, enabling businesses to better know their existing and potential customers and make improved business decisions. Global Mosaic, with LSPs (in fewer categories) for 16 other countries, can, likewise, be essential for a business on the verge of going global. Profiler 2.5 provides users with an easy way to identify target geodemographic niches revealed by the Mosaic LSP database. Geonomics' iSITE enables even more in-depth analysis, allowing for visualization of surfaces of Mosaic LSPs and translation of those surfaces into business standard grids. iSITE also provides the capability to include Mosaic LSP values within ring and drive-time reports. It is highly user friendly, but not at the expense of unreasonable limitations to the program user. With a little tinkering, iSITE 4.7, when combined with Experian's Mosaic, can produce analysis that is ready for presentation to the weekly boardroom site committee. With these products, the work of business geographic practitioners might just get much more efficient.



FIGURE 2 Within iSITE, the user can combine several LSP groups in a formulaic manner to arrive at a composite score for each grid cell to target demographic groups and subsequently pinpoint a new retail facility location. This figure shows a zoom in on a neighborhood with numerical values for each grid.



FIGURE 3 The business geographer can choose to generate reports based on user-specified drive times. This map shows the trade area for three hospital sites in the Nassau-Suffolk MSA and three ranges of estimated drive times from each site.

About geoVue
geoVue (formerly Geonomics, Inc.) integrates geographic, demographic, and business data to help clients make more accurate business decisions quickly and easily. Leveraging information from many industry-leading sources, geoVue’s user-friendly solutions help clients better understand their customers, locations, and markets in industries including financial services, marketing / direct mail, real estate, retail, restaurant, and hospitality. Clients range from small companies to international enterprises such as AEW, Dunkin’ Donuts, Fidelity, Lowe’s, Outback Steakhouse, Prudential, RadioShack, The Limited, Trammell Crow, and Talbots. www.geoVue.com

Contact:
Barbara Gail S. Warden
Director, Marketing
geoVue
200 Lincoln Street 5th Floor
Boston, Massachusetts 02111 USA
p 617.451.2520 x110
f 617.482.3066
www.geovue.com

Entire article (c) 2001, geoVue. Reproduction or redistribution in whole or in part without contacting the author and The Geocommunity is strictly prohbited.

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