A Brand New Marketplace for Geospatial Data

A Conversation with Joe Francica Managing Director, Location Intelligence—Pitney Bowes

Tue Oct 16 13:16:00 EDT 2018
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I recently had the opportunity to present a webinar on trends in data marketplaces and features of the Pitney Bowes Software and Data Marketplace. You can access the webinar on demand for the full story. But here are some of the highlights of our discussion.

Joe, you’ve talked about data marketplaces in the past. Can you provide a little background?

As I mentioned in a recent blog post, it can be really difficult to find the specific data that so many businesses are craving right now. They’re hungry for location intelligence. But what they’re finding are confusing menus of all kinds of data that may or may not satisfy their appetites for answers. There can be challenges with everything from understanding compatibility, licensing and file formats to procurement. And that’s what led to the development of data marketplaces.

We all know that today’s companies already have lots of their own customer data. But many of them are now finding they also need access to external data to get a better view of the big picture. In fact, more than half of the businesses surveyed in a recent study said they plan to increase the amount they spend in data marketplaces to get that data.

What kinds of outside data are companies looking for, and what can they do with it?

For one thing, fresh, accurate data is important to a company’s planning process. Let’s take customer service, for example. Up-to-date geospatial data can reveal how recent shifts in demographics and population density can change customer characteristics and needs. That information can help retailers, for example, predict the demand for new services—such as local delivery or parking lot pick-up options for busy families. Or it can help them predict the likely performance of their brick-and-mortar locations versus their online outlets.

It can also give local governments the insights necessary to determine where new schools may be needed—or whether the school population is likely to shrink significantly. And it can help real estate developers predict where the next “hot” communities may spring to life.

You mentioned that the data is “fresh” and “up-do-date.” Why is that so important?

Anyone who’s been in a supermarket in the past 10 years knows that virtually every product on the shelves is marked with a “sell by” or “use by” date—so you know how long your milk or cereal can be considered fresh. The same concept applies to geospatial data. And you can see why by just taking a walk through your neighborhood or a drive on the nearest interstate. Has a new apartment building, shopping center or corporate park “suddenly” sprung up overnight? That could have a profound impact on how both businesses and governments make decisions about the future. But using geospatial data that’s even just a year old to make those decisions can pave the way for planning disasters. In other words, using fresh, up-to-date data can make a huge difference between success and failure in those situations.

What about accuracy? Where does that come into play?

Anyone who’s basing their decisions on inaccurate data is obviously asking for trouble. If you’re led to believe that population density in a particular area has increased by 12 percent over the past five years, you’re likely to make decisions that are significantly different from those you’d consider if you discovered it was actually 1.2 percent. That’s why you need to be able to trust that your data is both fresh and accurate. In fact, 96 percent of the firms surveyed in a recent study said that higher data confidence would bolster their ability to act.

Finally, what can users expect when they visit the Pitney Bowes Software and Data Marketplace for the first time?

For one thing, I think they’ll be happy to see how easy it is to use. They get to visualize the data—whether they’re looking for addresses, streets, boundaries, points, demographics or a combination of data sets. And they can layer those datasets on an interactive map and zoom in to get a better view. They can also download and evaluate free sample data sets. It’s like being able to “test-drive” the data. After that, they just choose the data sets they need, identify the geographic areas they want to include and add everything to a shopping cart. After they check out, they simply download their data. That’s it!

You can access the entire webinar on demand to learn more.

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