BranchInfo 2010 BranchInfo 2010 BA

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.