Category: Location Analytics

Beefed up tools in ArcGIS Business Analyst

 by Kyle Watson

Same great tools, more functionality.  We’ve beefed up some existing ArcGIS Business Analyst tools with additional feature – at the request of users like you.

Here’s what we did in Business Analyst 9.3…

Mean Store Center analysis – added ability to find multiple potential site locations based on high concentration of customers.  Why is this relevant?  Here’s a scenario:  You are a bank looking to add ATMs based on your customer residences. The multiple mean store center tool is perfect for analyzing where those ATMs should go.  In 9.2, only one mean store center could be located at a time.  Learn more here.

Threshold Trade Areas – added ability to determine a capacity by drive time.  Why is this relevant?  Here’s a scenario:  You know your franchises need a minimum of 150,000 people living within 10 minutes – not 10 miles – but 10 minutes.  In 9.2 you could determine a threshold area by ring only which may not accurately reflect the landscape, in 9.3 we’ve added a more real-world approach with drive times.  Learn more here.


Here’s a further breakdown, where your humble blogger breaks out the smelly markers…

So if  you have an “I like this Business Analyst feature, but want it to also _____” wish list…I want to hear about them.

Stay classy,



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Deploy ArcGIS Business Analyst Server 9.3 remotely!

by Maia Pawooskar

ArcGIS Business Analyst Server has just had its second major release. Being two is so different, it is like being a toddler!

At version 9.3, ArcGIS Business Analyst Server installation has the look and feel of its parent, ArcGIS Server. In case you did not know, Business Analyst Server is an extension to ArcGIS Server.

An administrator can now deploy ArcGIS Business Analyst Server version 9.3 remotely! To do this the administrator/user will simply perform an admin install. Admin installs can be performed using the Windows Installer (MSI), which gives you more flexibility and advantages than the Setup executable.

ArcGIS Business Analyst Server version 9.3 has two setups, the data and the server setup. The MSI command for both the setups is the same.

msiexec /A (path to the setup)setup.msi

Using the MSI command the admin creation can even be performed silently with this command:

msiexec /A (path to the setup)setup.msi /qb TARGETDIR=(the location where you want the admin created)

The TARGETDIR can be a network location. The admin install will set up the structure needed for you to run the setup off of that drive instead of from the DVDs.

This can be handy if your server is remote, parked somewhere in one of your sprawling server farms and has no access to media drives. You would simply do the admin install over a network drive, then map the network drive to your remote server and start the installation!

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Calculate a walk time in Business Analyst Online

 by Jim Herries

All ArcGIS Business Analyst products can calculate drive times to help you understand your market.  How can they help with “walk time” calculations? 

A drive time analysis uses the actual road network, including speed limits, road types, one-way streets and other factors to calculate the trade area for a store, assuming people prefer to drive to it.  For example, I’ll drive about 5 minutes to eat lunch, I’ll drive about 10 minutes to a hardware store, but I’ll drive 30 minutes for a great meal at a favorite Italian restaurant (I mean you, Mario’s Place in Riverside). 

A few subscribers to Business Analyst Online have asked over the years whether it can help them look at businesses who depend on walk-up customers as a significant component of their daily business.  Can it do “walk time” analysis?

Absolutely.  There’s no software setting for it, but if you can move a decimal point, you’re good to go.  How?

Walk times are not for everyone.

A ‘walk time’ analysis can assume a 3 mph walk speed.  A drive time on that same street probably assumes 30 mph driving speed (ok, some streets are faster, some slower, but this is an estimation).  To get an estimated 5 minute walk time, just enter 0.5 minutes as the drive time. The resulting polygon shows you how far someone can typically walk in 5 minutes (or drive in 0.5 minutes — that’s 30 seconds in your car, hardly enough time to get the traffic report on the radio). To get a 12 minute walk time, enter 1.2 minutes as your drive time parameter.

Want to show the impact of adding a free trolley to your community?  Upload your trolley stop locations, buffer each by 0.5 minutes (aka 5 minute walk time) and run demographic reports in Business Analyst Online to understand the population and spending habits of people in the area.  If you own ArcGIS Business Analyst on the desktop or server, you can adjust the software to use 3 mph on all pedestrian-capable roads to obtain a more accurate estimate.


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Business Analyst saves Valentine's Day

 By Bob Hazelton

It’s 5:00pm on the Friday before Valentine’s day and I am, “A Desperate Husband“.

I thought I had gotten smart by making those dinner reservations for Friday to avoid the crowds on the actual Day of Love.  What I forgot to do was buy flowers, Argh!

So here I am with one hour before I need to pick my wife up for dinner and I need to find some flowers. Now there are some florists in my town but they are kind of small and I’m not sure they will have a decent selection this late on the day before.  Luckily I have ArcGIS Business Analyst software to help me.

Start the countdown clock, cue the theme music from Mission Impossible and let me get to work.

  1. Open Business Analyst and add a Store location for my work address and a separate one for my home address.
    58 minutes remaining.
  2. I figure that I’ll have a maximum of 40 minutes to drive to the florist and return so I need to create a 20 minute Drive Time trade area around my work location.
    57 minutes remaining.
  3. I’ll use the Add Business Listings feature to search for Florists – SIC code 599201 within the trade area that was just created. There are 52 florists within my 40 minute round trip.
    56 minutes remaining.
  4. I need to prioritize which of the 52 florists are large enough to have a decent stock of flowers Opening the attribute table I see the SALES_VOL field. I right-click the field name and click ‘Sort Descending’ so the high volume business float to the top. I see two florists within my drive time parameter and surprisingly there are two in my town that may be possible backup locations. I’ll select the four and go on to figure out the best driving route.
    54 minutes remaining.
  5. In the Business Analyst > Tools menu I see ‘Find Route…’.
    a. First I add the point from the layer I created to represent my office.
    b. Next I add only the selected points from the business layer of Florists.
    c. Finally I add the point from the layer I created for my home address where my wife is patiently waiting to be taken to dinner.
    d. Under the ‘Options’ tab I definitely want the Quickest Route preference.
    e. I know the speed limit is 65 on my highways so I click the Speed button to adjust the factors upward.
    51 minutes remaining.
  6. Tick, tick, tick… I need to know the directions!
    This is GREAT!! The route from my office to the farthest florist with stops at the others on the way back and finally arriving home to pick up my wife calculates out to only 40 minutes. I’ve got 10 whole minutes to spare. A quick internet search to find the phone number for the florists and I can call from the car to order an arrangement for quick pick up.
    50 minutes remaining.
  7. Thank you Business Analyst!

This example is a bit on the personal side of effective tools use, but from start to finish this effort took just 10 minutes. Consider that this could have been a B2B marketing effort and the same techniques could be used to identify likely opportunities or businesses to engage with.

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Esri Data – Did you know? Valentine’s Day Edition

Valentine's Day Heart  by Catherine Spisszak

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching.  Whether you choose to participate or not, there is no denying that Valentine’s Day spurs the demand for romantic gifts such as roses, boxed chocolates, champagne and even diamonds. In 2008, over 47 million people purchased boxed chocolates in six months alone.  Almost 18 million Americans bought diamond jewelry in 2008 and over 9 million ordered flowers over the internet.

Esri Data can reveal very interesting facts about the market for Valentine’s Day gifts across the country. The Esri Consumer Spending Data includes total expenditures, average spending per household, and a Spending Potential Index to reveal trends in spending patterns in this changing economy.  

The Chevy Chase area in Maryland appears to be one of the more romantic areas in the country.  This area has the highest Spending Potential Index for indoor plants and fresh flowers and jewelry.  Households in that area spent $329 on average on indoor plants and fresh flowers and over $900 on jewelry in 2008.

The Esri Market Potential data includes a Market Potential Index (MPI) that compares the demand for a specific product or service in an area to the national demand.  Rose Valley Borough, Pennsylvania has an MPI of 238 for ordering flowers on Internet in the last twelve months, 138% above the national average!   Sweet Home City, Oregon fell below the national average with an MPI of 81 for purchasing boxed chocolates in last 6 months.  And finally, in Round Rock, Texas the MPI for buying diamond jewelry in last 12 months is 120, 20% above the national average. 

So for those men out there that are spoken for, let this serve as your reminder that Valentine’s Day is this weekend.  And, to find out what other goods and services are represented in the Esri Consumer Spending and Market Potential databases, please visit

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The ArcGIS Business Analyst Product Cycle

  by Kyle Watson

How does the ArcGIS Business Analyst product cycle work?  Well, let’s review…

(1) We’re dependent on core ArcGIS.  When core ArcGIS is complete (e.g. once 9.3.1 is shipping), we start finalizing our stuff on top of it (e.g. Business Analyst 9.3.1 is now coming to your doorstep!).

(2) Business Analyst ships two releases yearly, we don’t tie them together (made customers mad as one always held up the other)…

  • Software Update…these are for the folks that want all the new Business Analyst functionality and tools that work with their new version of ArcGIS.
  • Data Update…these are for the folks who want the updated data and demographics.

(3) Then we release service packs and patches throughout the year to fix all the little things in between major releases.  Just download ‘em or or install them automatically.  Some are basic maintenance fixes, some are client driven issues.  So if you need stuff fixed to do your job…tell us about it!

So to recap.  (1) has to happen first, then (2) gets built, followed by (3)..until (1) starts the cycle all over again…



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Esri Address Coder 9.3 Released

by Lucy Guerra

Last week, Esri released a new geocoding and data appending product called Address Coder. Address Coder represents the latest release of the product formerly known as Community Coder.

Address Coder has two primary applications: geocoding, to better understand where an organization’s members/customers are coming from, where they aren’t coming from and why; and data enrichment with demographic and Tapestry data for the purpose of learning more about the surrounding area of each address. Summaries of this data allow organizations to better understand who their members/customers are, how to best approach them in marketing applications, and how to find more of them.

Built with ArcGIS Engine and using ESRI’s geocoding locator technology, Address Coder provides high quality geocoding and data appending capabilities.

Address Coder includes ESRI’s 2008 Updated Demographic data that can be appended to address records. It also has two optional add-ons – Esri Tapestry Segmentation data at the Block Group or ZIP+4 geography levels. For more information, see

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What does “population” mean, exactly?

  by Michael Scofield

According to the Census Bureau, population totals reflect the total number of persons residing in an area of standard geography. This figure includes citizens and non-citizens. The Census count strives to include illegal aliens (if they are living here) even if they are not specifically identified as such.

The primary criteria for being counted by the U.S. Census Bureau is being a permanent resident the area being enumerated.

Not all U.S. citizens are included in the U.S. population count as shown in the sketch below.

At the time of this writing, the Census Bureau estimates the population of the U.S. to be nearly 306 million. That figure doesn’t include U.S. citizens living overseas on a more or less permanent basis.

Many forms of analysis use household population, which excludes persons in group quarters (dormitories, prisons, military barracks, etc.).

A subset of households are family households. A family is defined as a householder and one or more persons related by birth, marriage, or adoption. Other, unrelated persons may live in the household, but they are not counted as part of the family for census tabulations.

So when you see or use a population statistic, you want to clearly understand what categories of people are included.

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ArcGIS Business Analyst 9.3 Report tools 4 U

 by Kyle Watson

We’ve added a couple new report related features to ArcGIS Business Analyst 9.3 to speed up your workflows. 

Those being:

(1) Create a map book

Think if you had 50 franchise locations and needed a map of each…in an hour…how would you do this?  At 9.3 we’ve added the ability to quickly create a series of maps.  If you have multiple trade areas, you can instantly create a map of each of them (instead of zooming and panning to each trade area, zoom, pan, export, save – zoom, pan, export, save, etc. – this is BORING and TAKES TIME).  The end result is a PDF book of report style pages or individual images.  Learn more here.

(2) Produce your favorite report directly from the Project Explorer

Instead of having to open the Business Analyst menu and drill down to the Reports dialogs (again…BORING and TAKES TIME), you can simply produce a demographic report with one right-click.  With the Project Explorer open, just right-click on a trade area and select Create Report.  That’s it. Your favorite demographic report is instantly created all the while bypassing the Business Analyst menu.  Learn more here.

Still thirsty for more?  Then watch your humble blogger explain these in more detail here:

Stay classy,


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Business Analyst Custom Tool Sample – Batch Reports and Email PDF Output

 by Garry Burgess

I had a request over the New Year’s holiday to create a custom tool to batch create reports for a trade area layer. The idea behind this custom tool is to create an individual report for each feature in a trade area layer. For example, an analyst creates a separate demographic trade area report for each of their N number of stores. The reports would then be sent out to each store so that the management team could get a demographic snapshot of the households around their stores.

Because each report needed to be sent out to a manager after it was created, I thought it would be very useful to integrate email with the custom tool.  In this example, I use Python to connect to Outlook-based MAPI email to mail each report to an email address included in the trade area layer. This is a really good illustration of how ArcGIS Business Analyst tools can be used to improve productivity using Python scripts. I tested this with a sample of 50 stores and was able to generate and email reports to 50 email addresses in a few minutes.

You can download the Python script and custom Geoprocessing tool here:

Follow the instructions in the readme.txt file and you will have a brand new fancy-schmancy tool that looks like this:

Check out the script to see how Business Analyst Geoprocessing tools can be scripted with Python.

This is my first Business Analyst Blog entry. I will continue to add samples like these that illustrate how you can get the most out of Business Analyst. Let me know if you find this sample useful and I would greatly welcome any ideas for other samples in the future.

Cheers – Garry

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