GIS at Dickinson College

GIS News, Events and Student Work blog

Month: September 2014

Wendy’s Uses Mapping Software from CA ESRI Firm to Pick New Locations

Wendy’sIntelligently Picking New Locations

At the Wendy’s corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ohio, real estate director John Crouse is swimming in data about the company’s almost 6,000 fast-food restaurants nationwide.

Crouse and one other colleague are responsible for building and analyzing maps of Wendy’s locations and the surrounding areas. They rely on a geography-based data program to quickly comb through large volumes of information — decades of sales records, demographic descriptions of nearby residents, and other data points — to predict how much a restaurant might take in annually at sites in the United States.

Once Crouse researches a potential site, he submits it to an internal committee; if the location is approved, engineering and construction can proceed.

Wendy’s is one of the latest companies to make use of software from a Redlands, Calif., company called Esri. Esri specializes in mapping various kinds of data — much of it culled from publicly available data sets — to help people visualize relationships, patterns and trends.

Especially since the economic downturn in 2008, many large corporations have been looking to such software — known as “geographic information systems” — to better direct their limited real estate budgets, according to Wayne Gearey, senior vice president for location intelligence at commercial real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle.

“It’s just starting to become industry standard for [corporate] real estate decisions,” said Gearey, who uses Esri and other mapping services, such as MapInfo’s and Google’s, for his clients.

Retailers are especially concerned about moving to places with ample potential employees, he said. “Once, in retail it was, ‘Where is my customer?’ ” Gearey said. “Now it’s about business operations.”

Mapping software has saved Wendy’s about $750,000 over the past two years that the company said it would have spent on various analytical and market research services.

For instance, Esri’s maps pull Census data to shade neighborhoods based on their average income. This helps Wendy’s determine where customers and employees are likely to be.

“We look where more income is, or less income, and where areas are more concentrated with family households, rather than empty nesters,” Crouse said, though he noted that this is just one element of the decision-making process.

The Wendy’s human resources department is using mapping data to learn about wage requirements and available workers, he said.

“If you’re in a more affluent area, it’s going to be a little tougher to find” employees, Crouse said.

In any location, Wendy’s also considers which other businesses could be co-tenants — for instance, he said, “You’re not going to expect the Wendy’s to be sitting next to Macy’s or Nordstrom, necessarily.”

Even after the location is built, the company is beginning to use demographic data to adjust operations to the local customers, he said.

In relatively high-income areas, industry data suggests that affluent customers “tend to spend more per transaction, in some cases, but they may not come as often,” Crouse said.

Crouse is also beginning to use Esri to map customer complaints. “We know [where] the customers are coming from . . . you can strategize around how to work with the operator — whether it’s a company-[owned] or franchise-[owned] — to correct that problem.”

At some franchise-owned restaurants, for example, owners come up with their own hospitality tactics — such as having staff walking around the restaurants to engage customers, perhaps offering to get them water or help in some other way. While “those are things that are really hard to quantify,” linking them to consumer satisfaction could help the company share best practices with franchise owners across the United States.

Crouse also uses Esri simply to track sales at individual locations. “If our forecasting model said it was going to be a $1 million location, but in reality it is a $750,000 location . . . did the model just miss the mark, or is it an operational problem?”

In many cases, Crouse hypothesized, “You can really pinpoint that it’s the operations. It’s about working with the restaurant itself — it could be as simple as a manager change.”

<http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-it/wendys-uses-software-from-calif-firm-esri-to-pick-new-locations/2014/08/16/e9e9086e-2235-11e4-86ca-6f03cbd15c1a_story.html>

Welcome Fall 2014 GIS Students

The GIS lab would like to welcome our 16 new students for Fall Semester 2014! Here are some interesting facts about our new students:

What do they study?

 

Major 1

Major 2

ANTH

0

3

ARCH

6

0

BIOL

1

0

ENSC

3

2

ENST

1

1

ERSC

3

0

INST

1

0

SELF

1

0

Total 

16

6

 

 

Where are they from?

State

Count

CT

1

DE

1

MA

1

MD

1

NJ

1

NY

1

OR

1

PA

6

VA

3

 

Total

16

 

What class are they?

Class

Count

Senior

10

Junior

6

Sophomore

0

Total

16

 

 

 

 

Stay tune for more news about our students as they learn the trade!

Joseph Fontanella

Geospatial Center Drills Down On GIS For The Army

 

Joseph Fontanella, Army Geospatial Center director and Army Geospatial Information Officer.

Army Geospatial Center Director Joseph Fontanella is responsible for providing geospatial expertise across multiple customer communities and technical disciplines ranging from operations, intelligence and acquisition to research and development, and modeling and simulation. The center he oversees does this by providing topographic, geodetic and geospatial information to the Army and the larger Department of Defense. The center employs both forward-deployed and reach-back elements. As the Army’s Geospatial Information Officer, Fontanella is responsible for collecting and validating geospatial requirements, formulating policy, setting priorities and securing resources in the support of the Army Geospatial Enterprise.

C4ISRNET: What is the mission of the Army Geospatial Center [AGC]?

Fontanella: Our job is to provide timely, accurate [geospatial intelligence] products and services within the framework of functional areas that support the Army Geospatial Enterprise: warfighter support, systems acquisition and program management, enterprise development and acquisition support. We also provide support in ways the national agency can’t, and we have our own collection capability. We’re a source of geospatial expertise to the Defense Department, FBI and others. We also set standards and enforce compliance, but the overriding goal is to enhance the ability of the commander to map his or her battle space.

C4ISRNET: How close are we to a common operating environment?

Fontanella: We’re coordinating with NGA [National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency] and supporting studies that optimize technology investments as they relate to common overlays, formats and ways of depicting 3-D data. We’re trying to build a ground war fighter geospatial data model. The endgame is to ensure that soldiers have the most timely and reliable information that we can bring to them, in a format that’s useful to them. If you look at how GIS [geographic information systems] technology has become more user-friendly over the years — we can take some of the credit for that because we have some ability to shape industry behavior. We’ve been pushing for open standards, and for the elimination of stovepiped systems with proprietary formats. The goal, of course, is to become platform agnostic systemwide.

C4ISRNET: Describe changes in the way geospatial data is accessed.

Fontanella: The challenge has always been how do you move bulk data into devices with limited capacity, and what we’re seeing is a shift from stand-alone applications to more open access to Web services. The goal is something that already exists on the civil side, like using an Android or an iPhone to navigate to a retail store. The data is pulled into the phone through an application that lives there, but the bulk of the data resides in the cloud. Ultimately the application and the data will have to reside on the device.

C4ISRNET: Tell us about AGC’s work in the discipline of human geography.

Fontanella: [Our] research and development is focused on human social and cultural dynamics, and how they influence what’s going to happen in a given area. In Afghanistan, we’re looking at models for predictive analysis, and in many cases the map tells a story that clarifies what’s going on in a specific area when you monitor activities in places over time. We are seeing an explosion of data. Operational graphics, map-layer data, feature data, thematic data. The challenge is standardizing on common formats and data standards.

C4ISRNET: Describe recent mapping initiatives in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Fontanella: The Army has discovered that in a counterinsurgency environment in built-up areas, the standard 1:50,000 map scale is inefficient for combat operations. So we went to Afghanistan and Iraq and collected high-resolution, 3-D data to produce geospatial products with an accuracy of one meter. This was at a time when NGA was working in the 30-meter range. We mapped roughly two-thirds of Afghanistan and most of the built-up areas and [main supply roads] in Iraq. High-res 3-D LIDAR [light detection and ranging] data is absolutely essential to urban operations. There’s a worldwide need for this type of data that’s not being met. If you want to build nations and bring services to people, or build any kind of representative democracy, you have to know where and how people live. It all begins with a map.

 http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140908/TRAINING/309080017/Geospatial-Center-Drills-Down-GIS-Army

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