Tony Howser

Recent Posts

Esri Business Analyst for Mobile v5.2 Released

Esri Business Analyst

Major enhancements to Esri Business Analyst Mobile include the following: Create analysis sites on your iOS or Android devices and share them with your organization Advanced options for creating Drive Time-based analysis sites Support for running custom Business Analyst reports … Continue reading

Posted in Analysis & Geoprocessing, Location Analytics, Mapping, Mobile, Uncategorized, Web | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Share Your Custom Business Analyst Reports Through ArcGIS Online

Esri Business Analyst

The Esri Business Analyst team is excited to Introduce a Powerful New Collaboration Option for our Users. Business Analyst for Desktop features a powerful WYSIWYG report-authoring tool that enables you to quickly and easily create professional, custom reports using data … Continue reading

Posted in Analysis & Geoprocessing, ArcGIS Online, ArcMap, Local Government, Location Analytics, National Government, State Government, Web | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Micro-Targeting with the Updated Tapestry Segmentation Data on the Community Analyst API (Part II of II)

CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS POST

Some Tapestry Segments

Welcome back to Tapestry Segmentation school!

Previously, I determined the top three Tapestry Segments of a charity’s most generous donors in order to understand who they are.  Today, armed with this intelligence, I’m going  to show  you how to find where they are so the charity can coordinate and optimize their outreach strategy.

 (C5). Let’s get a list of all ZIP Codes in the U.S. dataset which have any of the following three dominant Tapestry Segments (based on the calculated donor “profile”) :

  • 27:”Metro Renters”
  • 8:”Laptops & Lattes”
  • 1: “Top Rung.”

Continue reading

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Micro-Targeting with the Updated Tapestry Segmentation Data on the Community Analyst API (Part I of II)

Some Tapestry Segments

Community Analyst Data Release

You heard last week that you can access new data through Community Analyst.

Well, in celebration of this Community Analyst data release, I’m going to talk about accessing one of my favorite datasets through the Community Analyst APIs—the Esri Tapestry Segmentation  dataset—and discuss how and why it should be leveraged by organizations large and small.

Before we get into the nitty gritty, let me describe a real life use case of Tapestry Segmentation.  I’m confident that this use case will inspire your own!

Continue reading

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Blog Series – Importing and Using Your Own Data in Business Analyst – (5 of 6) Using Custom Data with Business Analyst Web Services

  by Tony Howser

This is the fifth entry of a six part product team blog series that will walk you through importing your custom data and exposing it in multiple aspects of Business Analyst – such as maps, reports, analysis, and applications. The upcoming entries will highlight some great tips and tricks for all things Business Analyst customization. Check out the original post here.

Hello everyone.  I am a product engineer on the Esri Business Analyst Team and I specialize in the Business Analyst Web APIs.  Today, I will introduce how you can quickly and easily leverage Business Analyst Server to perform advanced queries and generate reports against imported data—in the case of this blog series, the data will consist of some cancer risk data published by the EPA which my colleagues prepared and imported into a Business Analyst Server demo server.

The beauty of this simple walkthrough is that you will get Continue reading

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Business Analyst Online API for Silverlight – Interactive Sample Viewer

Yup, It's real.  B-)by Tony Howser

 

Business Analyst Online API for Silverlight Interactive Sample Viewer

Preview and develop applications with the underlying business objects and data that power the entire Business Analyst Suite!


Part of the Business Analyst Online API …

The Business Analyst Online Application Programming Interface (API) consists of SOAP and REST services and, Silverlight and Flex (soon!) SDKs. Together, all of these services and libraries allow users to rapidly and easily develop with the underlying business objects and data that power the entire Business Analyst Suite of products.  These resources enable you to add substantial value to your client applications by allowing you to easily integrate Business Analyst’s powerful analysis and rich data in your workflows.

Whether you are a programmer or not, I urge you to continue reading as you will be able to try some live example Business Analyst workflows through the Business Analyst Online API for Silverlight Interactive Sample Viewer. I guarantee that your exploration of the live samples will help you gain some quick insight into some Business Analyst workflows…because interaction is definitely more engaging than my written descriptions here! :-)


Silverlight-based RIAs…

Silverlight is a Rich Internet Application development framework that allows programmers to rapidly create very sophisticated Web applications with a .NET-based development environment. Basically, Silverlight, like other Rich Internet Application frameworks, was created to develop advanced applications that are platform/hardware independent; can be distributed and executed over networks (usually through Web browsers); and deliver a sophisticated and seamless desktop-like application experience through a browser without the overhead of a long installation, powerful computing resources, large hard drive, etc.

Rich Internet Application Framework
Primary Development Environment
Programming Languages
Adobe Flex Flex Builder XML Markup (mxml); ActionScript
Microsoft Silverlight Visual Studio XML Markup (xaml); C#, VB.NET, or other .NET languages

Besides REST and SOAP Web services, the Business Analyst Online API currently has an API for Silverlight.  (We will be releasing an API for Flex in May!)  The Business Analyst Online APIs for Silverlight and Flex extend the core ArcGIS Server APIs for Silverlight and Flex, respectively; so the existing core libraries of rich mapping/UI controls/behaviors, etc. can be leveraged for rich client development with Business Analyst data and services.


Quick Start! …

The Business Analyst Online API for Silverlight Interactive Sample Viewer is a resource that was developed with the sole purpose of helping you rapidly learn about and develop with the Business Analyst Online API for Silverlight. Not only are you able to try out the “live” samples, you also have the option to download them and execute them as complete standalone Visual Studio solutions!  You can access links to these solutions through the viewer.  The solutions contain copiously-documented code in both C# and VB.NET and they can be executed immediately since they already reference the necessary libraries and have embedded Business Analyst Online API demo user credentials.

With a live interactive sample viewer and complete code and workflow examples that execute “out-of-the-box”, learning about and developing with the Business Analyst Online API for Silverlight could not be easier.

Enjoy!
Tony

 

View the Business Analyst Online API for Silverlight Interactive Sample Viewer; download the complete invidual samples; and open them up and run them with Visual Studio as shown in the screen captures below.

Live Sample
Business Analyst Online API for Silverlight Interactive Sample Viewer - Live Sample
XML Markup Code (xaml)
Business Analyst Online API for Silverlight Interactive Sample Viewer - XAML
C# Code-Behind
Business Analyst Online API for Silverlight Interactive Sample Viewer - C# Code Behind
VB.NET Code-Behind
Business Analyst Online API for Silverlight Interactive Sample Viewer - VB Code Behind
Description
Business Analyst Online API for Silverlight Interactive Sample Viewer - Task Description
Download Complete Visual Studio Solutions (C# or VB.NET)
Business Analyst Online API for Silverlight Interactive Sample Viewer - Download Visual Studio Solutions
Open Visual Studio Solution
Business Analyst Online API for Silverlight Interactive Sample Viewer - Open Visual Studio Solutions
Complete Standalone Application to Study, Extend, Customize, & Use!
Business Analyst Online API for Silverlight Interactive Sample Viewer - Run Standalone Solutions
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Identify Investment Opportunities in Markets with the Business Analyst Benchmark Report Service and its Simplified XML (S.XML) Output Format – Part II of II

Yup, It's real.  B-)by Tony Howser

  

Thumbnail of Demo Application
Welcome back!

In my previous discussion, I described a scenario where you are working with economic development agencies in the city of Lawrence, Kansas to identify and market the region to investors in order to get commitments for matching funds required with federal stimulus grant applications. I also described how this can be done in a simple, efficient, and cost effective manner by leveraging the ESRI Business Analyst Benchmark Report service and its Simplified XML (S.XML) output format.

As promised, I will continue where I left off previously and will discuss the Business Analyst Benchmark Report service and actually demonstrate how quick and easy it is to develop with its Simplified XML (S.XML) output in the context of of “marketing” Lawrence, Kansas to potential investors.  As a bonus, I will provide access to a Web browser-based Flex demo and its complete and documented source code that leverages the tools that I describe today.

Lawrence, Kansas Study Areas
Polygons created with the ESRI Business Analyst Summary Reports service and mapped with the ArcGIS API for JavaScript

Let’s review our study areas again: You decided to provide easy access to data to potential investors describing the current and future socioeconomic, purchasing, and other characteristics of the underlying populations of Lawrence’s five ZIP codes. You could easily obtain and provide data in smaller and larger geographic areas but you chose to showcase Lawrence and highlight opportunities at the ZIP code level in order to keep it very simple and intuitive. You can also specify custom geographic areas. The choice is always yours based on your individual use cases.


So easy, it's almost magical!
Walkthrough: Submitting an Analysis Request to the ESRI Benchmark Report service and Binding the S.XML Result to a Flex DataGrid Control

In this next section, I demonstrate making a request to the Business Analyst Online Benchmark Report REST endpoint and dynamically binding the resulting S.XML data quickly and easily to a Flex DataGrid. This will give you a good feel for how easy it will be to develop the flexible and powerful application for attracting economic development dollars to the city of Lawrence and its five ZIP codes.

(1). Business Analyst Online Benchmark Report REST Request
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This sample URL below is an actual Business Analyst Online REST API Benchmark Report request which compares twelve Business Analyst summarization values for Lawrence’s five ZIP codes. 

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Summarization variables can be used to analyze, describe, and compare the current and future characteristics and trends of the underlying population—in this case, the citizens of Lawrence, Kansas’ five ZIP codes. 

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Once submitted, the output response is returned in seconds. (This REST request can be submitted through a Web browser’s URL field but requires a valid Business Analyst Online API token.  The actual output of the REST request is given further below.):

http://baoapi.esri.com/rest/report/BenchmarkReport?
BenchmarkOptions=useAverageValues&
FieldSortType=sortNone&
StandardReportOptions={“ReportFormat”:”S.XML”}&
Summarizations=TOTHH_CY;TOTHH_FY;AVGHHSZ_CY;AVGHHSZ_FY;AVGHINC_CY;
AVGHINC_FY;AVGNW_CY;AVGDI_CY;N33_Bus;G27_Bus;X8001_X;X8002_X&
TradeAreas=[{"StdLayer":{"ID":"US.Zip5",
"GeographyIDs":["66044","66045","66046","66047","66049"]}}]&
TAinRows=true&f=json&Token=YOUR_BAO_API_TOKEN

(carriage returns added for readability)

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Twelve summarization variables are simultaneously queried in seconds from a list of thousands

 
  1. 2009 Total Households – TOTHH_CY
  2. 2014 Total Households – TOTHH_FY
  3. 2009 Average Household Size – AVGHHSZ_CY
  4. 2014 Average Household Size – AVGHHSZ_FY
  5. 2009 Average Household Income – AVGHINC_CY
  6. 2014 Average Household Income – AVGHINC_FY
  7. 2009 Average Household Net Worth – AVGNW_CY
  8. 2009 Average Household Disposable Income – AVGDI_CY
  9. 2009 Healthcare/Social Assistance Businesses by NAICS Code – N33_Bus
  10. 2009 Health Services Businesses by SIC Code – G27_Bus
  11. 2009 Health Care Consumer Expenditures – X8001_X
  12. 2009 Health Insurance Consumer Expenditures – X8002_X
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The five ZIP codes of Lawrence, Kansas are analyzed in this request.  Other options include custom geographic areas, Census block groups, Census tracts, counties, states, CBSAs, DMAs, and more.

 
  • 66044
  • 66045
  • 66046
  • 66047
  • 66049
(2). Benchmark Report Simplified XML (S.XML) Response
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The raw Simplified XML (S.XML) output of the sample request above is shown in the following screenshot.  Notice how lightweight and compact the XML schema is and how each study area is represented by a single XML record (node).  The attributes associated with each XML record represent the associated summarization values selected in the REST request given above. 

- Download the raw output file here.

(3). Binding the Simplified XML (S.XML) Data to a DataGrid Control
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XML is an extremely popular, widely supported, and platform independent data interchange format.  The new Business Analyst Online Simplified XML (S.XML) output format enables application developers to easily, quickly, and efficiently consume the rich analysis output of Business Analyst with only a few lines of code.  Thanks to the extremely simple, lightweight and compact schema of S.XML output, binding data to dynamic controls, such as data grids, charts, and graphs, requires minimal effort.

-

- Believe it or not, the code in the screenshot below is all that is required for the *entire* Adobe Flex program shown in the link above.  The DataGrid is dynamic and sortable.  Notice how little code is actually required thanks to the Simplified XML (S.XML) output format.  The lightweight schema facilitates rapid and easy application development in Adobe Flex, Microsoft Silverlight, JavaScript, and many other development frameworks.


Marketing
Conclusion and a Complete Business Analyst Online Flex API Application

I hope you see the value of the Benchmark Report service and S.XML output format. I have shown you the underlying “engine” of what can power your analysis and application to market Lawrence, Kansas ZIP codes to investors around the country (and around the globe) and, how quick and easy it will be to implement.

ESRI Business Analyst to the RescueI am extremely happy to announce that the S.XML format will soon be available for most Business Analyst Summary Reports as well. This will make it even easier to leverage the Web APIs of Business Analyst Server and Business Analyst Online to build enterprise-grade Web applications.

To conclude this short discussion of the Business Analyst Online Benchmark Report service and its associated S.XML output format, I am including a complete working demonstration application and its source code to further communicate their value. This Web app is platform independent, can be made widely available, and is infinitely flexible for a variety of use cases—not just the real-world scenario which I discussed today. It is powered by the ESRI Benchmark Report service and it consumes its Simplified XML (S.XML) output. I am providing the fully-documented source code so you can study, execute, extend, and adapt it to meet your own needs.

Flex Demo Application Screenshot

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  • The user is able to select multiple (up to 500) Summarizations variables
  • The user graphically defines an analysis area using a freehand buffered line segment or freehand polygon tool to analyze and retrieve information about different areas in Redlands, CA. 
  • The application uses demo Business Analyst Online API account credentials that are geographically restricted to Redlands.
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Identify Investment Opportunities in Markets with the Business Analyst Benchmark Report Service and its Simplified XML (S.XML) Output Format – Part I of II

 by Tony Howser

 

Sowing Seeds
We Want Those Stimulus Dollars but It Takes Money to Get Money!

Let’s say you are a consultant and your business is currently working on several opportunities to assist local, regional, and state economic development agencies with getting their hands on those federal stimulus dollars.  Each and every one of them has been eyeing those dollars but they need to find matching funds to qualify for the grant money.

ESRI Business Analyst to the RescueIn our example, you are going to be helping out the city of Lawrence, Kansas by developing a Web application which leverages the ESRI Business Analyst Benchmark Report service and its Simplified XML (S.XML) output.  With Business Analyst’s Standard Geography Levels, you have many options for the types of geographic areas to analyze and describe however; you decided to keep it very simple and work with Lawrence’s five ZIP codes.

Lawrence, Kansas Study Areas
Polygons created with the ESRI Business Analyst Summary Reports service and mapped with the ArcGIS API for JavaScript

It’s kind of like the classic chicken-or-the-egg scenario, right?!  Chicken-or-the-egg What your clients are basically faced with is a situation where, it takes money (which is in very low supply these days) to get some of that federal money.   Every one of those areas has ready-to-go and long-deferred maintenance and upgrade projects with anxious local contractors, workers, and other businesses waiting in the wings.  Your job is to attract private investment to get enough matching fund commitments to apply for those stimulus funds.  What shall you do?


Marketing
Highlight the Opportunities in Your Areas by Identifying Desirable Characteristics and Trends

Well, roll up your sleeves and market those areas! Make the strongest case you can and build investor confidence in each of them with high-quality data describing the current and future socioeconomic, purchasing, and other characteristics of their underlying populations. Quickly help the investors identify valuable opportunities in Lawrence and make sound business decisions.

ESRI Business Analyst to the RescueESRI Business Analyst Online Benchmark Report service and its new Simplified XML (S.XML) output format provide simple and flexible programmatic access to ESRI Business Analyst Data and spatial analysis. It can be an integral part of a system to drill down into, investigate, and compare current data and trends of interest to businesses, organizations, agencies, and investors.


Uncle Sam
Can’t We Get the Data from the Government?!

QuestionOK. Identifying and highlighting valuable investment opportunities backed up by powerful data to potential investors sounds great to me but; can’t I already get this kind of data from the government?

AnswerYes, some “free” data are out there but; to make the strongest and most convincing arguments, you need access to some fairly specialized data which can be very costly to obtain on your own. How many local, regional, and state governments and chambers of commerce have had the funds and resources to amass such data? How recent and comprehensive is the information contained within it? Is there a sufficient variety of information to meet your current needs and your future requirements? Can the data provide a comprehensive snapshot of the current and future trends of the areas you are trying to market?

QuestionIn that case, it sounds like the data from the U.S. Census meet a lot of these requirements, right?

AnswerData from the U.S. Census is extremely valuable and can be very useful however; the U.S. Census is only taken every 10 years and then takes several years to completely process. Do you have the time to wait for the next federal snapshot of our society or are you able to use the older data from the 2000 Census? Additionally, a lot of consumer expenditure information and other data of interest to businesses, organizations, and agencies are not captured by the Census. ESRI Business Analyst data is obtained, compiled, and produced from many different sources. The most successful organizations leverage the most current data and data from a variety of sources in order to make well-informed decisions.

QuestionWell, how about those regular federal economic reports? We already paid for them through our tax dollars. Can’t we use them?

AnswerThink back to your original objective here: You basically want to simply and comprehensively describe and market areas to potential investors in order to attract matching funds which can be included in federal stimulus grant applications. What kind of geographic resolution do the data in those federal reports provide? You are helping the city of Lawrence, Kansas describe characteristics and opportunities in their five ZIP codes. Regular federal economic reports are invaluable tools to economists, academicians, and legislators however; they are macro in scope and provide a broad snapshot of the *entire* economy. In most cases, they are poor tools to effectively and comprehensive describe relatively smaller geographic areas and regions like ZIP codes. And, finally, how about “custom” geographic areas specified by coordinates defining an analysis boundary?

ESRI Business Analyst to the Rescue ESRI Business Analyst Data obtained through the Business Analyst Benchmark Report service can come to the rescue with thousands of summarized variables describing the current and future socioeconomic, purchasing, and other characteristics of the underlying populations of areas as small as the Census block group to as large as the entire U.S. In addition to standard geographic areas, the Benchmark Report service also supports the analysis of custom-defined areas. The Business Analyst Benchmark Report service provides extensive, flexible, timely, and detailed data which can be easily requested and consumed through the ESRI Business Analyst APIs.


Green CFL
How Do We Widely Distribute the Data in a Rapid and Cost Efficient Manner?!

OK. So you now see the value of this effort. How do you make it simple, efficient, and cost effective for your clients, their potential investors, and for you? Well, thick reports are so “20th Century” and are costly to produce and resource intensive in many different ways. Additionally, with so many competing distractions, you have little time to loose in presenting data about Lawrence to potential investors. Their time is precious and you want to be able to provide them with access to powerful and comprehensive data in a fast and efficient manner. You also want to be able to respond to several other opportunities in different cities and localities since you made the initial investment with setting up the system (and your consultancy) with Lawrence. You want to minimize the re-engineering necessary with a regularly-updated, dynamic, and “scalable” data source and sustain your system.

ESRI Business Analyst to the RescueIn Part II of my discussion, I will conclude by describing to you and giving you the complete working application and source code to a Web browser-based Rich Internet Application (RIA) developed in the ubiquitous Adobe Flex framework (New to Flex?  Check out this flagship implementation of the Business Analyst Online API in Flex here!). The sample application will offer hints and suggestions on how you can offer potential investors (and analysts, other organizations, legislators, decision makers, members of the public, etc.) the ability to easily and interactively look up the current and future socioeconomic, purchasing, and other characteristics associated with the underlying populations of different geographic areas.


What!?
It’s Over Already?! What!

I don’t want to get my boss angry at me for posting a blog that is too long (even though I have actually seen technical blog posts that look like theses or dissertations.)

In Part II of this blog, I will discuss the Business Analyst Benchmark Report service and actually demonstrate how quick and easy it is to develop with its Simplified XML (S.XML) output in the context of your task of “marketing” Lawrence, Kansas. As a bonus, I will provide access to a Web browser-based Flex demo and its complete and documented source code that leverages the tools that I discussed today. See you soon!

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