Tag: Business Analyst Online

The Big Sort… Or, Love Thy Neighbors?

 by Brenda Wolfe

This weekend I picked up Bill Bishop’s book “The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart” (published in 2008). According to Bishop’s research, over the past 30 years we Americans have been gradually sorting ourselves into homogenous communities.  Every year, between 4 and 5 percent of the population moves.  And when they move, they make the subtle choice of choosing neighborhoods that they think fit them best, bearing out the notion that like attracts like.  People are attracted to and feel comfortable among others with the same beliefs, ways of life, and political bent.  It is the local political balkanization that is the “tearing us up” part of Bishop’s title. 

Bishop contends that marketers were among some of the first to pick up on this trend.  Indeed, marketers use what is known as segmentation data to be able to hone their messages down to neighborhood level.  ESRI offers its own Tapestry Segmentation data that is included in ArcGIS Business Analyst Online. 

Using the color-coded mapping in Business Analyst Online, I was able to determine that I live in one of the areas of Redlands, California dominated by Pleasant-Ville types of people, as seen here by the green highlighted areas.

ESRI’s Tapestry Segmentation handbook gave me a detailed description of “my people.”  Much of it was spot on.  I won’t spill the beans, but I do think my segment has superior qualities to the other 65 segments.  :-)

If you would like to know which types of people dominate your local area, check out ESRI’s ZIP Lookup Tool to get your own free report of top Tapestry segments in your ZIP Code. 

See if you are indeed like your neighbors.


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Colorful Las Vegas

By Brenda Wolfe

This past December I experienced the joy of running the Las Vegas half marathon alongside people dressed as Elvis, women dressed as brides, and full-marathoners in much better shape than me.  I noticed the marathon route not only went through the luxurious high-end casino area of Las Vegas Boulevard, but also through the more colorful areas of Las Vegas located just off Las Vegas Boulevard where tired-looking retail warehouses of showgirl clothing await the next lucky lady in need of a sizzling outfit. 

This got me thinking, how much do I really know about Las Vegas beyond Las Vegas Blvd?  To satiate my curiosity, I fired up Business Analyst Online and mapped some demographics variables contained in the product to see what would pop out.

First, let’s see where the money is.  Here a look at 2008 Per Capita Income estimates:

Per Capita Income (yellow is the lowest, red is the highest):

most diverse (red areas are the most diverse)…

Diversity Index (yellow is the lowest, red is the highest):


So do the wealthy own more cars?  Looks like it.  At least there aren’t many car owners on the strip.

Average # of Vehicles per Household (yellow is the lowest, red is the highest): 



So guess who’s walking to work…  workers in the red areas, that’s who.

Workers Who Walk to Work (yellow is the lowest, red is the highest): 


I’ve heard Vegas is turning into more of family town.  So where are the large families?  Looks like in the northeast part of Las Vegas.

Average Household Size (yellow is the lowest, red is the highest): 


So that leaves the rest of the LasVegas population without large families to spend money on dating services.  I guess that is a first step to a larger family potentially.  By the way, if any of the people in the red areas need a special outfit to spice up their dating lives, I know where to find a nice showgirl clothing warehouse.

Money Spent on Dating Services (yellow is the lowest, red is the highest): 

Next week… Where is the highest concentration of Elvis impersonators?

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User Experience – We get it or we might have…

  by Sooria Jeyaraman

Usability: “The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use.” (ISO 9241-11)

Major goal of our latest release of Business Analyst Online is to improve the usability and user experience of the product. Exposing our vast sets of data in our products has always been a challenge, to say the least let alone do some analysis with it. Most of you would agree with me that no design could be perfect until it serves the purpose effectively. We as a company have realized that and user experience is very much in ESRI’s radar these days (Woo hoo!!). We’ve incorporated some of the user centered design principles for this upcoming release of Business Analyst Online 9.3.


Let me explain the process a bit. A small window of opportunity was created within the project schedule to accommodate designers (user experience architect and visual designer) early in the product cycle. Designers along with the product management made use of the situation by incorporating these three simple steps.
1.    Listen to the users
2.    Usability testing and listen to the users
3.    Listen to the users again.

We actually listened (literally!) to the customers through our numerous customer interviews and tried to analyze the user’s goals and expectations of the product. Sample personas were created to bring life to our users and numerous white boarding sessions happened over months. Finally after several redesigns a working prototype was created.  This prototype was given to the actual users in the form of usability testing to initiate our second step of listening.

Usability testing as expected served as a great eye opener for the stakeholders of the project and for us designers too. We watched and listened to the miseries of our users actually trying to use our prototype. There were times we wanted to go across the one way mirror and show the user where that particular link was.. hey, but there were occasions where the users  were delighted about our design as well, so there was something to boost our egos :)

After these sessions, we got back to the drawing board to analyze the reasons why certain design elements didn’t work with our users. After remedying those issues, we tested it again with our users and repeated the process multiple times. The beta that is going to be out soon might not solve all the issues but we are hoping to hit a field goal ;) at the minimum. Having said that, there is always room for improvement and as I mentioned earlier no design is perfect until it solves the user goals effectively and efficiently. We still might go back to our drawing boards based on what we hear from you.

- SJ

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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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