Retail Trade Geospatial Mapping and Analysis

There is no secret of the increasing use of GIS technology in the real estate industry due to the latter’s overwhelming interest and dependency on LOCATION.  For real estate professionals, location is always one of the determining factors influencing property value.  Geospatial technology provides the foundation for many common real estate tasks including  property research, market analysis, spatial analysis, matching tenants to available properties, plan market expansion and contraction, as well as staying abreast of changing consumer tastes and local demographics.  The expanding availability of business and marketplace datasets, online property (records) and land information systems, and more friendly and accessible enterprise web-based  geospatial software tools enables real estate firms building geospatial capacity to act more quickly than their competitors.

One Empire State firm which has embraced and is currently expanding it’s GIS infrastructure is the The Shopping Center Group (SCG).  A more focused group within the company is called SCG Retail which is located in Manhattan and concentrates on retail real estate properties in urban environments not specific to shopping centers.  It is in this office where primary SCG GIS resources are located providing geospatial support and guidance to other SCG offices in the United States.   Established in 1984, SCG is a retail-only real estate company providing advisory services to tenants, landlords, developers, investors and financial institutions.  With 22 offices from New York to Southern California, it is the largest commercial/retail-only real estate firm in the United States.

Sample SCG-Retail map of “targeted” neighborhoods in southern Westchester and Fairfield (CT) Counties. SCG-Retail uses ESRI’s Business Analyst to estimate the number of total employees who work within a defined area to generate a general idea of daytime population/employment hubs.  Rent ranges (Est. rent per square foot of retail space) is provided by brokers and business partners.

The SCG-Retail GIS operations are built on top of the ESRI GIS platform to conduct their industry leading mapping and demographic studies.  Connected offices utilize ArcGIS Server services, ArcGIS Online, and selected ArcGIS client programs.  In the Metro NYC region, SCG GIS staff utilize a variety of datasets as part of their market and site specific analysis including ESRI’s Business Analyst and Tapestry Segmentation products and in the a variety of public (Metropolitan Transportation Authority [train, bus, subway ridership], New York City [property/parcels, permits, bus ridership, etc]) and other commercially available real estate and consumer databases. Directing the SCG Retail geospatial efforts its New York City office is Will Parra who joined SCG Retail after working with Sanborn Mapping Company in Pelham, New York.

“SCG Retail’s use of GIS has grown significantly over the past 24-26 months” notes Parra, “it is used and integrated into all of our business decisions”.  Illustrative of SCG-Retail’s work is their recent 125th Street Corridor retail analysis in Harlem, New York – with the world famous Apollo Theater near the center of the study area.   To assess current and anticipated demographic changes in this area of Manhattan and how these trends will effect the potential retail trade landscape,  SCG-Retail GIS staff employed a variety of databases and mapping/analysis tools which enables staff to utilize custom designed GIS tools to establish potential consumer movement patterns in the study area during daytime and evening hours.  The resultant findings of their analysis, as highlighted in this StoryMap, identifies the 125th corridor, particularly the western end, as an excellent area for commercial retail growth and development.

Chase Welles, Partner, SCG Retail comments “Within the last 24-36 months, GIS technology has become an essential tool in working with clients and defining potential retail trade areas.  SCG Retail always had access to U.S. Census and demographic data, estimated consumer trade and drive-time zones, the ability to place potential consumers in defined locations at specific times of the day (AM/PM) via mobile device (smart phone) generated X,Ys  has been a game changer for us working in this space.  This mash-up of new consumer locational data with traditional Census, consumer spending patterns, and other GIS overlays is a very new, powerful, and emerging market analysis tool.”

When representing clients, a basic SCG-Retail map product is a radius map (typically .5 mile radius around a specific address) which provides a basic understanding of the demographics in a given designated trade area. Data is generated using ESRI Business Analyst Online.

Using data collected by mobile devices, The Shopping Center Group developed this map in ArcGIS Desktop to highlight the differences between where people who frequent Colonie Center in Albany, New York, live and where they work. This information is then used within Esri Business Analyst Online to uncover the slight variations in both the demographics and the psychographics of Colonie Center guests.

Learn More About SCG

SCG Retail GIS work has been featured in a February 2017 ArcNews article as well as in an ESRI Case Study YouTube video.  In 2016, The Shopping Center Group was also recognized at the annual ESRI User Group Conference with a Special Achievement In GIS (SAG) award.  Additional information and background on consumer research and analysis in the shopping center industry, visit the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) website.

Contact Will Parra, SCG Retail, at wparra@scg-retail.com.

2017 GeoCon Wish List: Part II

In January of this year, I published my first 2017 GeoCon wish list relative to geospatial mapping applications and topics I’d like to see as part of the Lake Placid October 17-19 conference.  Since January, writing and publishing eSpatiallyNewYork has enabled me to communicate with a wide range of individuals and organizations involved in geospatial programs across the state  – some of which are included in the list below.  Others itemized on the list are new business start-ups,  government and nonprofit initiatives, and programs involved in the emerging drone technology.

So without any further adieu, here is Part II itemizing geospatial topics and program areas I’m advocating for 2017 GeoCon in Lake Placid.  Speakers, presentations, and ideas to mix things up and start some new discussion – and why.

Opioid Crisis Mapping

With the opioid crisis well documented in New York State, Story Mapping and data visualization help further detail the magnitude of this public health issue to a much wider audience.  Story Maps also enable authors with much greater flexibility in developing a narrative to accompany the data which might be otherwise be difficult to interpret or understand with just a map by itself.  Here in New York, it’s the hope to see greater use of Story Mapping (not just ESRI’s solution – all platforms) by agencies and organizations which historically have been reluctant to publish maps due to concerns of data which might be sensitive or misinterpreted.  This Opioid Story Map provides a powerful message and can prove to be a catalyst in seeing other statewide public health data being published in a similar geographic format.  It would be interesting to hear more from this Story Map author(s) about the datasets used (availability, sensitive/non-sensitive, sources, etc.) and possible collaboration with other GIS programs and agencies at the federal, state, and local level.  See also the Northern Kentucky Story Map:  The GEOStory of Opioid Addiction and The Urban Observatory: The Opioid Epidemic.

Story Maps provide an easy and powerful framework to combine narrative and maps which is often very helpful when publishing sensitive or “difficult” to interpret data. Publishing agencies have can better help how data is interpreted and read.

New York State Wildland Fire Mapping

Nothing special or cutting edge here geospatial, but I’ve always had a soft spot for wildland fire maps having served on U.S. Forest Service interregional fire crews back in the day in both Idaho and Montana.   Though in context of publishing fire data, it’s unfortunate how little capacity New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has built in context of publishing their data and products as services. Not that statewide wildland fire data and map services would be a top seller for DEC, but the image below (scrapped from the DEC website) speaks to the continued reliance on static maps and other enterprise map applications  which cannot be consumed by other viewers.  The map is actually interesting in showing how there are more fires per square mile closer to urban areas (red) than in the more forested areas such as the Adirondacks – where most would think wildland fires occur and with more frequency.   Publishing this type of data as some type of map service would Continue reading

Orbitist: Storytelling on the Western Front

It’s always refreshing discovering new startups and firms mixing geospatial concepts with other technology and media platforms.  Not necessarily true geospatial firms which we’ve come to label as such, but clearly operating on the fringe and providing selected products and services mainstream geospatial consultants market and provide.  One such relatively new firm is Orbitist based out of Fredonia, New York.

Orbitist is led by Nick Gunner who has been filming and directing video productions since 2007 when he began pursuing his Bachelor of Science Degree in TV/Digital Film, Audio/Radio production, and Earth Science at the State University of New York at Fredonia. During that time, Nick started building content management systems and digital mapping technology which he continued while serving four years as the university’s New Media Manager.   On the side, he continued to pursue freelance work as a public radio producer, freelance documentary filmmaker, and web developer. In the Summer of 2015, Nick launched Orbitist LLC as part of the Fredonia Technology Incubator with the idea of using digital storytelling and technology to make important information as accessible as possible.

Initial Work

The Roger Tory Peterson Institute (RTPI) of Natural History was Orbitist’s first client.   In the Summer of 2015 they commissioned a short documentary on the Chadakoin River in Jamestown, as well as map three tours about various natural history topics.  Representative examples of RTPI products can be viewed on YouTube and the bottom three links on this Orbitist web page.  During this same time period – and ongoing today – Orbitist also performed work for the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau.

Other recent products and services include:

A Story Map documenting the Winter 1929 Tewksbury boat and bridge crash on the Buffalo River resulting in the flooding of a 18 neighborhood blocks in South Buffalo.

This Story Map uses a variety of multimedia which pinpoints cultural and historical features from different Spanish-speaking countries, including architectural feats, traditional dances, and tipping customs, among others. Each map utilizes Spanish phrases with English translations to bridge the gap between languages.

Software Suite

Relying on the experience he gained building systems for the last 10 years, software products used at Orbitist reflects Nick’s commitment to combining content management with interactive mapping – much of which is accomplished by integrating and combining leading Open Source components.   Currently the Orbitist mapping platform is a simple content management system which associates posts (internally called “points”) with latitude/longitude values.  The Orbitist team often uses Mapbox GL as a primary front-end mapping library but behind that everything in their system is API-driven, meaning story maps are created top of products such as Leaflet and Google Maps.  They also use Carto as a stand-alone product for building real-time analytics maps.  All combined, the Orbitist “system” also manages images and a variety of data (icon type, time of day, external links, etc.) and provides access to YouTube, Vimeo, and even Facebook for video hosting. GitHub is leveraged to host static web projects. Continue reading

2017 GeoCon Wish List: Part 1

I first wanted to publish this article initially as a wish list to the GIS Santa Claus in early December, but the holidays came and went so I am now submitting it as a New Year’s wish list (Part 1) for the 2017 GeoCon  in Lake Placid.  There will  be other suggestions over the next several months and I’ll remain cognizant  what I wish for as I may be submitting an abstract to present myself.  Maybe.

So to start the discussion, here is an initial list of  ten geospatial mapping applications and program areas I’d like to send a speaker invite to for the 2017 GeoCon – and why.

NYS Office of the Attorney General:  New York Crime Gun Analysis https://targettrafficking.ag.ny.gov/tool/

While mapping continues to be one of the primary end products of GIS analysis, geospatial data is increasingly being used in a wide range of data visualization platforms such as Tableau.    I’d welcome the opportunity to attend a presentation by the Office of the Attorney on the Crime Gun Analysis report outlining data collection, data analysis, and the rendering of the data through maps, tables, and charts.  Not the normal GIS menu.

New York State Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC) http://regionalcouncils.ny.gov/

In context of geospatial, this program reference isn’t so much about “what it is”, as opposed to more about “what it isn’t”.  Or at least I think.  From my level, the REDC framework has always been somewhat of a mystery since current state administration created the 10 Regional Councils in 2011.  And even more confusing that the geography of the REDCs do not coincide with the statewide Regional Planning Commission boundaries. That said, there is an incredible amount of geospatial information and analysis in the Council’s underlying mission.  Everything happens somewhere.  And there is a ton of money coming through the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process which I believe the GIS community should be more engaged and recipients of to some degree. Uber opportunities for web mapping applications, Story Maps, and GIS-produced maps for publications though one would be hard pressed to see any real evidence of a professional GIS touch in any of the Council products and services.   I looked through four regional 2016 “progress” reports (Hudson Valley, Finger Lakes, Capital Region and Southern Tier and found very limited reference to GIS/geospatial technologies.   Some kind of presentation by one of the REDCs and/or regional GIS personnel involved in this program would be most informative for the statewide GIS community.  Otherwise I doubt we’re going to hear anything through the state GIS program office on this.

511NY
https://www.511ny.org/

This is more of a selfish request than anything because I really don’t fully understand the makings and how 511NY operates in context of GIS/geospatial data collection, sources, work flows, or even development of their applications including the online mapping stuff.  I do know it’s big, visible, seemingly growing in functionality, supported by a mess of New York State transportation agencies -even though it has its own .org web address.  It also creates a lot of data which would be useful to consume and use in local government web mapping applications.   I’d be the first one to sign up to hear how it all comes together, funding, sources of the data (including what is being taken from and/or generated at the local level), opportunities for collaboration with local GIS programs, and what’s next.  How long before we see an Uber icon on the 511NY homepage to help support trip planning?

Continue reading