BranchInfo 2010 BranchInfo 2010 BA

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bing Goes to Dinner

Microsoft Bing & Local announced some enhancements yesterday based on user research -

· Interior Views: Provides users with immersive 360-degree panoramas of local businesses
· OpenTable Integration: Lets users interact with OpenTable directly from restaurant pages
· Real Time Transit on Mobile: Gives users real time info if a bus is on-time or delayed
· Streetside for Mobile: Brings users street-level imagery + some mobile-exclusive enhancements

So, if you like dinner dates using public transportation, you're all set.  Seriously, the integration of maps and views and Open Table is cool, I'm an Open Table user and this streamlines things and adds some view candy.  And the mobile transit feature is Killer in cities where public transportation rules (NY, Boston, SF, Chicago, etc.).

The Bing map themes are improved, too.

But the reality is, everything Microsoft does in this space seems derivative, a day late and a buck short.  The value added, mild.  And the last time I looked, everything we do in computing is still based on WIMP.  Where's the user research on a better mobile interface?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Checking Accounts, GIS & Location Based Marketing

In case you haven't heard, free checking died. 

Checking account fees are about to change all over the place.  The way that banks look at you is changing, and certainly the way you look at them is.

Check out the ESRI Financial Services SIG for an interesting discussion of how banks use GIS to ferret out opportunities as all the prices change, and location based marketing to address them.  And figure out what this means to you and how to save some time and money.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Waze Finds Means

Waze, the social networking traffic and navigation app that adds user updates in real time on traffic and road conditions to the typical turn-by-turn directions of a navigation system, got another $25 million venture capital boost yesterday.

Ultimately, this is another location-based marketing play, in which advertising based on proximity will be pushed to users as they roll by the location.  CEO Noam Bardin noted that "location is all about relevancy, and what’s more relevant than showing you coupons around the routes you drive and what’s available at your destination when you arrive?"

What is fascinating here is indeed the routes perspective, marketing to commuters not on the basis of where they live, not on the basis of where they work, and not on the basis of how these relate to the work and home locations of friends - but based on their dynamic location on routes they travel each day, and how these interconnect with those of friends, family, clients and colleagues. 

Whether Waze can improve upon and differentiate from established players in this regard remains to be seen.  But if they can somehow entice users with games, geocaches and other content and build upon their 2.2 million user base, they might build this into something that will be useful for traffic counts as well as social networking and location based marketing.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Caliper Releases Maptitude 6.0

Caliper is nothing if not great at providing solid, professional GIS features at a value price point.  Back in the day, its original design was so informed by Atlas GIS - then the market leader in business GIS - that it seemed like a virtual clone in look and feel as well as functionality. 

Today, Maptitude is taking lessons from ArcGIS, and learning them well. 

The 6.0 release includes Thematic mapping and other Wizards, 2010 Navteq geocoding, a territory manager, label expressions, transparency on layers and a robust bundled dataset among the compelling additions. 

For developers, there is support for .NET and now SQL Server Spatial.

Lots of value here at just $695 and $395 for upgrades.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Facebook Messages - Ripple Time

Facebook announced another new service last week, Messages - endowing Facebook users with a brand new e-mail address that Facebook hopes you will use for... well, everything.  Kind of a messaging integrator and aggregator.

But there is a bigger, far more significant Ripple here, and I'm not talking about my relaxation beverage of choice while using Facebook.

And that Ripple is AUTHENTICATION.  E-mail attached to a Facebook account is authenticated.  It's YOU.  No (theoretically) spoofing.

And that, not aggregation, is what is truly missing from today's messaging.  And authentication is what will symbolize its next major evolution.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Samsung Ultra Mobile PCs

We've been featuring the Samsung Ultra Q1 in a series on primary site analysis in GIS on our banking and financial services site.  Here is #3 in the series.  This is our idea of touchscreen computing, running XP SP3, 2GB of RAM, and yes of course it does Flash - and has a very bright 7 inch screen.


Back in the day... Site work used to be so much... work.

Trudging around, filling out a site questionnaire longhand that would only need to be transferred to a computer later. Then, brought step by step into a spreadsheet, a database.

Then finally into desktop GIS, ultimately to be integrated with the existing network.

Fumbling for a camera to take photos. Mumbling voice notes into a hand-held voice recorder.  Scrambling on the cellphone to relay resultsWorst of all, dropping the notebook PC you brought out with you, ostensibly to save a little time.

No more.  Now we do it all on the Samsung Ultra Mobile PC.  On one tablet device, I can do it all - photos, voice, full Excel spreadsheet, even ArcGIS.

Suddenly, what used to take forever and was no fun at all is now made quick, easy, fast.  Work has become a pleasure again.  I can collect all the rich data I need in every way I need literally in the palm of my hand.

And integrate my field work with the network in real time.

Not to mention that tablet computing is a blast, and definitely the next Big Thing (witness the IPad).  
However - unlike the IPad, this Samsung has an integrated QWERTY keyboard - and more importantly, a full blown OS (Windows XP SP3), a powerful mobile CPU, and fully 2GB of RAM.  And if you are not quite as literate texting as your kids are, you can write longhand right onto the PC using a stylus and an input area, and the handwriting recognition kicks in.

What a joy it is to gather the info digitally, once,
into an Excel spreadsheet...
then pull that into ArcGIS...
integrate it with the existing network...
analyze the impact on that network...
compare it with other site options... and
distribute the information throughout the organization and to partners before I even get back into the car to drive to the next site.

We've been using these Samsung UMPCs for over three years now, and we love them.  More so, we're in love with tablet computing.  

So much so, we just bought one of Samsung's new 40 inch touchscreens.

Now, I just have to find a way to mount it into my vehicle.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Facebook Deals Pat Hand

Facebook announced Deals yesterday, their late-to-the-game piggyback upon Facebook Places.  A pat hand, because the entry by this giant player throws the gauntlet down at Foursquare.

But mostly, pat because while Foursquare is focused on pushing location-based offers to consumers who actually care about and use the service expressly for that purpose, the vast majority of Facebook users will not even know Deals (or other Apps) is there, let alone use it or find it valuable.

It will be interesting to see how Gap, Starbucks and the 20 other retailers now offering Deals do.

Most likely, they will need to reshuffle - a very recent Pew Internet study shows that only 1 in 100 Internet users used a service like Deals on any given day, and usage skews away from women, who do most of America's shopping.

That is still an awful lot of people, but given the late entry, all of the security concerns, and the lack of focus - well, typically, winners cash the chips, and losers say "Deal."  Or will that huge underlying Facebook user base make the difference?

Photo courtesy of PC World

Thursday, October 28, 2010

QR Codes & Mobile Tagging Apps Emerge In U.S.

It's a link.  It's a bar code.  It's Pop Art.  It's a QR code!

And it's another mobile technology that caught fire in Japan years ago and is still finding its way to the States.

On the one hand, this is a very promising mobile technology, on the other, just another way to pass a link.

Content is king, as always.  If the website or other content you are whisked off to is useful, valuable, and/or entertaining, then you have something.

If your site is lame, and/or you are lame in referring customers to it and then dropping the ball, you will remain lame (just a more geeky lame).

1stBank in Colorado is one of the first movers on QR codes, providing reading material and puzzles for a virtual waiting room in the Denver International Airport. QR code posters inside the airport (photos courtesy of The Financial Brand) are headlined “Free Books,” “Free Crosswords,” and “Free Sudoku” and link to a selection of classic novels, crosswords and Sudoku.

Microsoft has its own, color version of QR codes, aimed particularly at mobile tagging applications, called Microsoft Tag.

You can create QR codes to your own content at sites like this- the technology is free of any license, easy to use, and offers some very interesting opportunities.

Here's a QR code to the ESRI Financial Services SIG, which is open to all, and deals with GIS, mapping and location services for banking and financial applications.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mapinfo Users Still Love the Software - Just Hate Pitney Bowes

We have many friends, clients and academic colleagues who moved it on over to MapInfo from Atlas GIS after ESRI acquired Atlas in 1996.  Indeed, we still have many Atlas GIS users, and RPM still supports them, too. 

At that time, ArcView was not considered by many to be on par with MapInfo in functionality or interface or value.  Most of all, it was thought to be business-unfriendly.  My friend Tony Burns changed all of that, leading the effort in creating the Business Analyst for ESRI, and made the business world safe from ArcView. It's hard to believe it is already nearly a year since we lost Tony.  I still have his original Product Launch document for Business Analyst.  To this day, it is the most thorough comparative analysis of business GIS software from the end user experience perspective that I’ve ever seen – though Hal Reid continues the tradition, for those of you who know Hal, for those who don’t, you should.

Last week, a thread popped up on the MapInfo discussion list soliciting user dis-satisfactions with MapInfo.  There have been very few responses, mostly concerning inflexibility in working with legends and tables compared to ArcMap.  And even when complaining, it’s clear that MapInfo users continue to find their platform to be better integrated and to offer more function and value in one place for one price than ArcView does.  It’s not just that it’s the software they know.

But boy, are they ticked off at Pitney Bowes, which bought MapInfo a few years ago now, and have now buried it under the “Pitney Bowes Business Insight” umbrella.  And I feel their pain.

About a year or 18 months ago now, I was invited by the MapInfo folks to attend a swell seminar on the Queen Mary along with about 50 other folks using business GIS in our area.  It was Old Home Week; well more than a dozen former Atlas GIS folks were there.  The seminar was well led by Moshe Benyamin, long the product manager, and many good ideas for improving the software were mentioned as we broke out into small groups and then reported and presented back.  Expectations ran high – they had repeated the exercise in many other cities, worldwide, and reported the results back to us.  It seemed that a major new release would result.  Bugs would be fixed, and extension embraced.

And then, Pitney Bowes used all this user input for sales and marketing, not to improve the product, and came out with a 10.5 release with a “bunch of buttons” and “eye candy” and cloud references. One prominent MapInfo user remarked that he could care less than a rodent's behind about the sheet metal changes.

Maybe the MapInfo 10.5 release is especially noxious because Esri’s ArcGIS 10 is so much improved.  Some may say, finally.  But honestly, ArcView caught up a long time ago.  And it has great people extending and supporting it.  And people like me to give it and Business Analyst a swift kick. 

As needed.

ADD PBBI responded to the MapInfo user list, offering a link to a website where users can make and comment on ideas for improvement.  Clicking on the link produces a blank page.
ADD ADD The page is now up

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Savings and Investment Potential by Political Party Preference

Occasionally, as we dig through the various databases we use in our practice, we discover datasets that have the potential to help answer interesting questions that we sometimes wonder about. This past summer, we happened across the database of political contributions by zip code through July 28, 2010, made available at, which provides access to all political contributions recorded by the Federal Elections Commission.  We thought it would be interesting to see whether zip codes differ with respect to socioeconomic status as measured by savings and investment potential, based upon which party received the majority of contributions. 
Our methodology was rather straight-forward. We began by categorizing each zip code in California, based on whether the largest percentage of contributions was made to Democrats, Republicans, or “Other. We then calculated the average MarketBankTM deposit potential and investment potential per resident household and then tested the means for statistical significance using an Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) procedure.  As a second method of evaluating differences, we also categorized zip codes in which all of the contributions went entirely to a single party (or other), versus those in which contributions were spread between two or more parties.
Overall, provided data for 26,791 zip codes in which political contributions were made, of which 21,683 were able to be matched to the MarketBankTM database.  Within the zip codes matched to MarketBankTM, a total of $916,895,087 was contributed, broken out as follows:

Total Contributions
Zip Codes Contributing Predominantly to One Party
Zip Codes Who Contributed Entirely to One Party
No contributions

MarketBankTM deposit potential estimates were calculated for each zip code on a “per household” basis, providing the average bank checking and savings deposits likely to be held in U.S. financial institutions. Based on the classifications of zip codes by contributions by political party, the average deposit potential and investment potential per household for zip codes were averaged for zip codes who predominantly contributed to Republicans, Democrats, and others (as well as those from which no contributions were recorded to any party.
The key question we wanted to answer was whether there is a significant difference between contributors to Democrats and contributors to Republicans on the basis of the socioeconomic status of the contributor’s zip code. Using the MarketBankTM bank deposit potential per household and investment potential per household as two proxies for socioeconomic status, we discovered that there is a statistically significant difference (p<.001) between zip codes in which residents primarily contribute to Republicans versus those who primarily contribute to Democrats.  The average deposit potential per households of predominantly Republican-contributing zip codes was $19,021, compared to $20,465 for Democrat-contributing zip codes, and $19,763 for zip codes that contributed predominantly to other parties.
Investment potential per household followed a similar pattern, with Republican zip codes being lowest and Democrat zip codes highest in terms of potential.

Zip Codes Contributing Predominantly to One Party
Bank Savings Deposit Potential per Household
Investment Potential per Household
No contributions

With respect to zip codes in which all contributions were made entirely to a single party, a similar statistically significant pattern (p<.001) can be observed , with the average deposit potential of $18,003 for Republican zip codes falling somewhat lower than the $18,542 for Democrat zip codes, and $18,621 for zip codes where all of the contributions were intended for a party other than Democrat or Republican.

Zip Codes Contributing Entirely to One Party
Bank Deposit Potential per Household
Investment Potential per Household
No contributions

Although, the difference is not overwhelming, one can conclude from these data that communities (as defined by zip codes) in which political contributors lean Republican may tend toward less wealth in comparison to communities in which contributors lean Democrat, or toward other political parties. Although this does not represent an exhaustive study of socioeconomic status associated with party preference, it provides an interesting starting point for further analysis.  In particular, a further breakdown of the “other” contributors may provide some insight as to where those funds are ultimately directed, and how those contributors may differ demographically.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

ESRI Announces ArcGIS for SharePoint

On Monday, Esri announced ArcGIS Mapping for SharePoint, a set of easy-to-configure Web parts delivered as an out-of-the box solution for displaying information on a map in Microsoft SharePoint.  In combination with a MapIt license, the latest release really offers an easy way to get started with distributing spatial intelligence throughout the enterprise, and a great way to leverage and extend ArcGIS and Business Analyst apps, and with less - or no - real programming required.   In other words, it is DBA, admin, power user and web developer friendly.

Says our old friend Bob Hazelton, who has managed several key server technologies at ESRI of particular interest to business GIS, "This opens the audience pool to include designers with no programming background. Developers will find the ability to extend ArcGIS Mapping for SharePoint with the ArcGIS API for Silverlight to be very helpful."

Absolutely.  Can't wait to get our hands on it.  Which you can do right here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mobile Maps Come Indoors

Think of the layout and contents of your local supermarket as if it were a geographic feature, as if it were a large polygon populated with other polygons, lines and points - where these represent aisles, shelves and items.  Now, imagine that available on your iPhone or Android or Blackberry.

Or, more simply, the next time you're in a giant mall or shopping center, how'd you like to have the mall map on your smartphone with the ability to find stores, merchandise, movie times, etc.?

A new generation of apps has appeared for iPhone.  FastMall and Micello present mall and/or store basemaps on mobile devices, with a search engine. Mall Maps does, too.

PointInside is the only Android offering to date.

Given the nature of connectivity indoors, most services cache their maps onto the user's moible device.

Next month, Aisle411 will allow users to find individual products inside stores, and offer them rewards for using those stores.

Where is this going?  Where are you going where you could get lost trying to find what you're looking for?  Convention centers, stadiums, casinos, universities, medical centers...

APOS Ready for ArcGIS 10

Our old buddy Brad McCallum at APOS tells us that the Location Intelligence Solution and Integration Kit is now ArcGIS 10 ready, and this will be announced shortly in the APOS newsletter.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mobile Developers Need Android Wake-Up Call

The iPhone, with its closed source and network, is ultimately bound to go the way of the Mac - a niche technology.  With all the apps and Apple buzz, it is Android that is kicking ass up and down the block in 2010.

Yes folks, according to Nielsen, among folks acquiring their smartphone in 2010, Android began the year with 14% share of operating systems, clearly last, and by August was the leader at 32%.

In raw share terms, they still have some catching up to do.  But it will happen, and happen fast.  All that iPad and iPhone buzz is going to be background noise, outside the niche.  Which is where the real action is going to be.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The GIS Bibliography

One of the greatest ESRI resources - for all GIS users regardless of software - is probably one of the least known.  The ESRI Bibliography indexes journals, conference proceedings, books, and reports from the origins of GIS to the present and covers the entire literature of geographic information systems, science, and technology.

GeoLocation Marketing & Social Networking Sites

A number of location based social networking sites are springing up, and offer endless possibilities not only for fun and socializing but for geolocation marketing and loyalty programs - so put on your thinking hats and start dreaming about what GIS can add to this.  Here are some of the prominent offerings.

Foursquare, most popular, and the most commercial.
Gowalla: Allows users to find friends, places, inspiration. iPhone only.
Brightkite: Coupons a key feature here.  iPhone or Android smartphones.
Where: A Baedeker of places to go, merchant oriented.
Scvngr: Commercial site allows businesses to run promotions in a game metaphor.
Booyah: The "Second Life" of geolocation, extended to a real-virtual commercial world.
Facebook Places: Facebook joins the party.
Yelp: Mobile online reviews of goods and services, with a loyalty bent.
Loopt: Social site, allows friends to dynamically keep track of each other on a map and share updates. iPhone only.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bringing Windows XP to the ArcGIS 10 Party

For those who have Windows XP and want to install ArcGIS 10 and extensions, the first thing you are going to need is Service Pack 3.  Go to Control Panel – System and see what version of Windows XP you have. 

Problem is, most shops we know never updated to SP3, because SP2 was more stable, SP3 introduced new issues, yada yada yada.  Many don't have Windows Update auto configured, either.

If you don’t have SP3, and you are on a business or university or other managed network, it’s easy – you call up your network admin or IT and say “I want my XP SP3.”  Then, during the subsequent ArcGIS 10 install process they will manage, the addition of any 2008 SQL Server Client, Windows installer and .NET framework updates you need will be relatively transparent.

If you don’t have SP3 and manage your own PC, Microsoft encourages you to use Windows Update to get it.  We encourage you to download the admin version from  Chances are you will have the Stand Alone Version, but developers will need the Checked Build.  If you get the wrong one and try to install, you’ll be prompted so don’t worry.  You can also request a disk for a few dollars more.

If you try to install 10 on XP SP2 or earlier, you will encounter a couple of cycles of reboots and installation of installer and .NET updates that will result in the error message that you need SP3 to proceed, anyway -, but you can update then as well.

However.  Chances are, if you don’t have a minimum of 2GB and really, 4GB of RAM and/or a fast processor and/or video card and RAM, you are going to ignore all this and get a Windows 7 machine to run 10.  More on that next time.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Esri Business Analyst 10 Install & Update Notes

Business Analyst 10 is here! Here’s some help on installing, and then some tips on updating 9.3 projects, with an eye especially towards avoiding some pitfalls apparently related to Windows Vista.

What You Need To Get Started

·         Your BA10 USB Drive.
·         Your software license codes from ESRI Customer Service.
·         Your SDLIC data license file for Business Analyst and LF file for Address Coder from ESRI Customer Service.

Please contact us if you did not receive the USB drive, your codes, or your SDLIC or LF file.  Also, be aware that you can now manage licenses and more on line with your ESRI Global Account at  If you don’t have a Global Account, get one – you’ll need your customer number (we can help retrieve that, too).  At ArcGIS 10, we really begin to see the blurring of desktop and server based computing, and administration like this is a good place to start getting used to it.

Install Procedure

First, and always when you upgrade, make your own secondary backup of any files you created with 9.3, even though the BA install will move whatever is in My Output Data to My Output Data.backup.  If you are storing these in the My Output Data folder, simply make your own additional backup of it.  But if you are like most users, these files may be located all over your hard drive and network.  So, it is wise to take inventory of where your files are, project by project, layer by layer, by opening each project, reviewing the Source tab for each layer in the Table of Contents (TOC) – and then backing it up.

Then, simply insert the BA 10 USB drive into a USB slot on your PC, and let it autorun.  If it does not autorun, run the setup application manually from the root of the USB drive.  This will automate the process of removal of all 9.3 components and the install of first ArcGIS and then BA 10 and supporting files.  The entire process will take about 2 to 4 hours, depending upon your PC and resources.  If you choose to do a Full install of ArcGIS 10, this will install other extensions and the VBA support, but it will take longer.  Most prudent is a Custom install of the core 10, including the Network Analyst and the VBA Developer Support.

Install Errors on Vista

We have done multiple installs on Windows 7 versions with no problems, but you may find them on Vista PCs.  When installing on a Vista PC, if you encounter a “Write Protect Error” message, copy the entire Esri BA 10 USB drive to another location and run the setup from there – another USB flash drive, a USB hard drive, or an accessible fixed hard drive on your PC or network.  You’ll need more than 28GB of space and copying the file will take 20 to 45 minutes depending on your resources.


Not much change here, just have your codes ready and run the ArcGIS (Desktop) Administrator, manually entering "Business Analyst" or "Business Analyst Premium" depending on your version under Other Extensions.  For the SDLIC, save to disk and just double click.  For the LF, save to disc and reference in Address Coder File-Options-License-Browse.

Updating 9.3 Projects

As discussed on the BA Blog, there is a new tool called Update MXDs that you can use to batch-update your old 9.3 project files, which were automatically placed in My Output Data.backup during install.  However, and this is very important, as you review the Source of layers in your old projects before backing them up, you will also want to review each project first to ensure that you have not combined your own files and layers with the “Business Analyst Data” layer.  The tool is designed to remove everything in “Business Analyst Data” and replace it with the updated version 10 layer, and it will do so along with anything else you had in that Business Analyst Data layer.  If you find you have saved layers to Business Analyst Data, just move them out, creating a New Group Layer for them if you need to, and saving the project.

If you don’t want to use one of the Update MXD tool methods, you can still do this manually – but the location of the new Layer files has moved.  To manually update an MXD, open it, review the project as above, and when you are sure that Business Analyst Data contains only BA 9.3 files and none of your own layers or analysis, right click on it in the TOC and remove it.  Then, Add File and navigate to the ArcGIS-Desktop 10.0-Business Analyst-Data folder, to add the Business Analyst - Map Layers and Business Analyst - Business Reference Layers layers to your 9.3 project, and save in 10.

VBA Error When Opening Old Projects

When opening a 9.3 project in 10, you may encounter a Warning: VBA Code Detected error.  If you do, you should be able to click through this error in the interim, but you’ll need a VBA install and license.  The install comes from the ArcGIS 10 install routine of ArcGIS Desktop VBA Resources, so go back to your ArcGIS 10 folder on the BA USB drive and install and Modify to add this if you did not install during core 10 install; the VBA license should have come with your other licenses from ESRI Customer Service.  If you don’t have one, let us know. 

Now The Fun Part

The usability and performance of BA 10 appear every bit as advertised – fast, powerful, and with more function better exposed.  For a prospect in a recent demo, a huge retail chain, we retrieved over 1,000 of their store locations nationally, set them up as Stores, ran a simple ring buffer on them, and reported an initial national Tapestry profile of their estimated primary trade areas… in just 5 minutes.  And that is just scratching the surface.