5-Step Checklist For Your GIS Site Selection ToolThursday, November 13, 2014
Imagine you are the owner of a rapidly expanding business. Business is so good, you’ve decided the time has come to add a new facility. Congratulations! The next big question: where will you go?
Like most business owners (or the site selection consultants they often hire), you know that there are almost certainly many appropriate sites and properties scattered across the country. Simply searching property databases won’t give you what you really need - reliable, robust data about such things as demographics, labor force, housing, consumer spending, infrastructure, and industry data. As a successful business owner, you know you will first need to choose the right location based on all these criteria, and then look for a facility to suit your needs. Your first step will be to search the GIS site selection tools offered by many economic development organizations right on their websites.
Let’s switch hats again. Now you are an economic development professional. You are looking to ensure your organization offers the very best online GIS site selection tool available, so that the businesses and site selectors considering your location can find all they need to know.
Here is a simple 5-item checklist to ensure you’ve got all the critical components in place:
1) Is your data robust?
Ensure website users can access a full range of important data variables, including demographic, labor force, consumer spending, housing and industry data (right down to the 6-digit NAICS code). You can also add a wide range of GIS data, including education, airports, infrastructure, incentive areas and more. Data is only truly robust if it’s up to date, so make sure automatic updates occur at regular intervals. The GIS site selection tools on the State of Oregon and Miami Dade County websites offer 2,329 demographic data variables, 1,060 thematic heat maps and 1,843 different industries mapped and listed at the same time. This screenshot shows how users might analyze the businesses around a specific property.
2) Is your data granular?
Business owners can’t make informed location decisions with county or regional-level data alone. They will need hyper-local data, based on adjustable radius or drive-time distances, right down to the block group level. In this example of a labor force report for Ann Arbor, MI, it’s possible to modify the data according to radius (1-60 miles) or drive-time (1-60 minutes). Users of the Michigan Advantage site selection website can analyze data for the whole state, customized regions, individual counties or towns, or right down to a specific address or 6-digit NAICS code.
3) Is your GIS site selection tool easy to find and distributed through your website?
Your GIS site selection tool means you are open for investment attraction business 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But if you haven’t put the link in an obvious place on your home page, above the “fold” (the top part of your web page that displays without scrolling down), and with a clear graphic, then it won’t get nearly as much traffic. Choose New Jersey does a great job highlighting their GIS site selection application - see it here. Even better, add visually appealing intelligent search components to multiple pages within your site, so users can begin to search for data, sites, buildings and/or communities without having to click away to a separate page. You can see the Intelligence Components at work here in South Central Kentucky.
4) Are you listed on a national site selection portal?
Business owners and site selectors often begin from a macro level, open to a wide variety of locations. A national site selection portal such as ZoomProspector.com allows users to input their criteria and discover locations that fit their needs. From there, they can click over to the individual communities’ site selection applications for more information.
As many as 25% of site selection website visitors are using browsers on a smartphone or tablet, and they quickly get frustrated trying to navigate conventional sites with tiny links and lots of zooming. EDOs without fully mobile-optimized GIS site selection applications risk losing prospects without ever knowing they were in the running. GIS Planning’s ZoomProspector Enterprise is the only fully-optimized, fully featured site selection tool in the industry. Try it out by visiting www.PittsburghProspector.com on your smartphone.
All of the features of the conventional desktop site are available in the mobile version of ZoomProspector Enterprise.
If you’ve answered yes to all of these items, your location has made the wise decision to invest in ZoomProspector Enterprise. It’s the only online GIS site selection tool to offer such an exceptional range and depth of data resources, along with user-friendly analytical tools such as comparison of communities and properties, dynamic reporting and data scalable from the hyper-local (right down to Census block group) to regional.