Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Creating thematic maps with Sales Area Management Tool

As hinted in one of our earlier posts, Sales Area Management Tool (SAMT) can be used in many creative ways. In this article we demonstrate its use as a simple thematic mapper app.

Firstly, a brief overview of what thematic maps are and what they are used for.

Very often it is desirable to review the information available on hand in a summary format, for example to highlight the main patterns or trends otherwise buried in the details. One simple technique when dealing with spatially distributed phenomena is thematic mapping (or, as it is technically known, choropleth mapping). Wikipedia provides a comprehensive definition:

A choropleth map (from Greek χώρο ("area/region") + πλήθος ("multitude") is a thematic map in which areas are shaded or patterned in proportion to the measurement of the statistical variable being displayed on the map, such as population density or per-capita income.

The choropleth map provides an easy way to visualize how a measurement varies across a geographic area or it shows the level of variability within a region.

To create thematic map you will need:
  1. spatial data representing areas as polygons (e.g. postal areas or zip codes)
  2. attribute information about those polygons (e.g. Census statistics)
  3. mapping software to create a map (e.g. Sales Area Management Tool)
If you already have a summary dataset (e.g. information on family incomes from Census or similar source) which can be referenced to a specific boundary data (e.g. postal areas), it is only a matter of simple “copy and paste” to create thematic map with Sales Area Management Tool.

Example of thematic map created with Sales Area Management Tool 

In particular, you can create 4 different “territories”, each representing postcodes with attribute values belonging to a specific data range (e.g. quartiles of weekly family incomes). Just copy the list of postcodes for each data range from your spreadsheet to SAMT as comma separated values, then style the polygons in a given group, and it’s done! You have a thematic map that can be copied into your documents or printed for further perusals in a hardcopy format.

SAMT is a very handy tool for quick generation of thematic maps with public data like Census statistics, or with your own information derived from, for example, user surveys or sales statistics.

The above map is just an example to illustrate that even simple apps like SAMT can be used for a variety of tasks (i.e. can be "repurosed" in many creative ways). Low cost of such tools and ease of use means these apps offer a great value for money for the end user.

There are more advanced tools on MapDeck for creating thematic maps dynamically from large datasets.  We will describe them in detail in future posts.

Contact aus-emaps.com on info@aus-emaps.com to arrange a free trial of SAMT.

Related Posts:
Sales Area Management Tool 2015 Upgrade
Sales Area Management Tool makes tedious tasks easy - and fast!

Mapping territories for multi-category franchise 
15 complex tasks Sales Area Management Tool will make easy 

Friday, December 18, 2015

15 complex tasks Sales Area Management Tool will make easy

Sales Area Management Tool (SAMT) is very versatile in terms of possible applications.

At the core of SAMT functionality there is a very simple mapping widget that enables manual selection of polygons and compilation of those polygons into user defined groups. However, the overall capability of SAMT can be utilised in many creative ways.

One of many potential uses of the tool: defining delivery zones

SAMT is one of the first advanced productivity improvement tools released on MapDeck platform. We have unveiled the latest version about a month ago and since then we have promoted its virtues in several posts. Today we present an extended list of potential uses for SAMT: 
  1. defining sales areas, franchise or dealership territories based on common administrative boundaries, like postal areas/ zip codes or suburbs;
  2. generating images of individual territories for inclusion in contracts for sale of franchises or other reports;
  3. testing territory composition or rebalancing existing territories based on polygon attribute information, such as number of clients, potential market size or actual revenue form a given location;
  4. creating simple lists of postcodes/ zip codes, suburbs, etc. administrative areas that fall in X km radius from a given location;
  5. creating lists of polygons (e.g. suburbs) contained in a larger administrative area (e.g. Greater Sydney);
  6. defining catchment areas for retail operations bases on distance from the location;
  7. defining catchment areas based on the distribution of clients in the surrounding postcodes or suburbs;
  8. defining delivery zones based on the distance from a location;
  9. defining delivery zones for different days of the week;
  10. creating maps outlining work areas for market research staff  or charity donations collectors;
  11. creating simple thematic maps for documents and reports, (e.g. based on sales and revenue, or visitor statistics that can be matched to postcodes/ zip codes or suburbs);
  12. highlighting geographic extents of interest for regional organisations (e.g. based on LGA boundaries);
  13. recreating land planning zones based on Census mesh blocks and information from local authorities;
  14. visualising TV and radio broadcasting reach for local advertising campaign purposes;
  15. defining localities affected by natural disasters (like storms, bushfires, floods) and highlighting the severity levels;

When explaining benefits of a product it is always a good idea to present real life examples to illustrate how users are actually gaining advantage by utilising available functionality. However, we value privacy of our clients and will never disclose who is using various tools on MapDeck platform, and for what purposes, as this may reveal certain operational advantages to their competitors. Therefore, we will only present generic use cases when demonstrating where MapDeck tools and data could be potentially utilised.

Education of current and future MapDeck users about the benefits of location intelligence is an important part of our mission so everybody who registers on MapDeck is well informed how to make the most of what is available – with the least effort and at the lowest cost.

Contact aus-emaps.com on info@aus-emaps.com for access code to test SAMT with your use case scenario.

Related Posts:
Sales Area Management Tool 2015 Upgrade
Sales Area Management Tool makes tedious tasks easy - and fast!

Mapping territories for multi-category franchise 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Small area statistical geography for better insights

A guest post explaining advantages of using small area statistical geography over more recognisable but less revealing administrative boundaries. 

Why SA1's beat Suburbs

At Microburbs, we want to quickly and comprehensively explain an area to people, and connect people with areas to live in that match their needs. The real estate industry, however, is stuck on the idea of suburbs. Australian suburbs can be extremely diverse, and the experience of living at one end or the other can be very different. Suburbs are simply too diverse and not precise enough to describe the environment and the lifestyle.

The solution, for us, is the ABS Statistical Area 1, or SA1. These handy non-overlapping areas are subdivisions of suburbs, each with around 400 people and usually bordered sensibly by roads, rail and rivers etc.

Technically, there are 8,500 suburbs in Australia, 4,842 of which have more than one SA1 in them. This might make it seem like SA1's and suburbs are equivalent much of the time, but just about any suburb you’ve heard of is populous enough to contain multiple SA1's. The other 4-odd thousand of them are mostly rural areas.

SA1's for Income

The average difference between the richest and poorest SA1s in a suburb (income) is a huge $466 per week in pre-tax personal income.

Here we’re not talking about inequality between people, but between neighbourhoods. For an average suburb, the highest earning community, on average, brings home $24K per year more than the lowest earning end of town.

Corio, north of Geelong and south of Avalon Airport, has the highest difference. There the residents of the poorest SA1 earn an average $425 per week, while the richest earn $2142. The 5-fold difference! The extremely remote Wiluna in Central Western Australia comes next. Unsurprisingly, inner city suburbs are well represented in the top 20 too.

But typical suburban places have large differences too. Your average suburb has 38% difference in income between the richest and poorest SA1. Suburbs containing SA1's close in income are rare. Only 10% have average SA1 income differences within 10% income of each other.

Let’s look at a couple of suburbs.

Median Income By Neighbourhood - Bondi NSW: $1,118 (red) to $2,577 (green) per week

Median Income by Neighbourhood - Fortitude Valley QLD: $760 (red) to $2,454 (green) per week

SA1's for Age

Age is also a characterising factor for SA1s. Although the average SA1 has 26% of residents 55 or over, most suburbs have very uneven distribution of over 55's among SA1's, and suburbs that are statistically 'young' often have older SA1's within them. Like with income and public housing, we are avoiding suburbs with SA1's composed entirely of large retirement villages.

Proportions of population over 55 years of age - Hunters Hill, NSW: 71% (red) to 1% (green)

SA1's in Practice

As a practical example, let's try to get some insight into the relationship between the amount of residents over 55 and weekly average income. We'll look at the City of Randwick in Sydney, having 7 suburbs and 150 SA1's.

First, the scatter for each suburb in the City of Randwick

We could characterise Randwick the suburb as generally younger and wealthier, Kingsford as younger and poorer, and the other suburbs as older, and similar in income. To get a real insight though, let's explode that to each SA1 in the City of Randwick.

With the benefit of SA1 breakdown, we can see that it's not just Kingsford, but also Randwick and Matraville that contain low income younger populations, and that Little Bay and South Coogee also have areas of high income earning young people. If we wanted to study young, low income areas, we would be much better served by the SA1's in the bottom left cluster than studying all of Kingsford, which has several older clusters too.

There's some key examples to illustrate why characterising areas at a suburb level is simply too broad to be effective, when we have such a good alternative in SA1's. They're free to download in your preferred format from ABS in MapInfo or Shapefile format, and easy to integrate into your next project. Hopefully you'll find breaking your dataset down to the SA1, or microburb, level as useful as we have.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Mapping territories for multi-category franchise

The majority of franchise brands focus only on a single line of business so, mapping territories of their operations is a straightforward task. However, there are operators, especially in the service industries, that offer franchises across multiple categories. 

Mapping territories for each category and keeping track of their status, for example from the initial expression of interest stage through to finalisation of the sale, is an order of magnitude more difficult. 

Sales Area Management Tool offers a simple solution to this problem. In particular, the functionality that enables recording different versions of territories in a single file, for example for modelling different composition or keeping track of extents  of territories as they evolve over time, can also be utilised for managing multi-category franchise operations. So, rather than naming individual territory sets as v1, v2, etc. they could be saved as “Service A”, “Service B”, etc.

Example of mapping multi-category franchise using trace-over layer functionality
SAMT allows displaying and editing only one territory set at a time. However, by utilising trace-over layer functionality, it is possible to display another set in the background. And switching between different territory sets is then only a matter of two mouse clicks.

The advantage of maintaining all the information in a single table is that it makes it easier to reconcile the information between all internal systems, like accounting, sales, marketing, and/or business intelligence.

Contact aus-emaps.com on info@aus-emaps.com for more information or a demonstration.

Related Posts:
Sales Area Management Tool 2015 Upgrade
Sales Area Management Tool makes tedious tasks easy - and fast!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Sales Area Management Tool makes tedious tasks easy - and fast!

Marking franchise territories, sales areas or delivery zones can be quite a challenge if you are not using advanced GIS software.

This is especially the case if you have to factor in the distance (for example, from a local office or retail premises or your warehouse), or account for some local market characteristics (like potential market size), in order to balance workloads of your staff, or optimise for available resources or profit potential.

Sales Area Management Tool (SAMT) is a simple, inexpensive online mapping application, but packed with features that will make the job very easy. And fast! So you can focus on chasing business opportunities and not on tedious tasks of collecting hardcopy maps, then hand drawing territories and compiling information into spreadsheets, which could take weeks...

The following use cases highlight several advanced features of SAMT and demonstrate the power of this application as a business tool, indispensable for making informed decisions, with minimum effort. 

Use Case 1: Generating franchise territories with predefined number of prospects
A very convenient feature of SAMT is that it enables linking polygons with attribute information about those polygons. For example, with data from Census, like the number of persons or dwellings per postal area or zip code. Totals for individual territories are calculated automatically as polygons are selected so, it is easy to experiment with different compositions of polygons per territory.

Example of balanced territories defined with Sales Area Management Tool (variable: total population)
If you have good understanding of your target market and are able to define minimum size to sustain individual franchisees, you will be able to mark territories with high precision, optimising the total number available for sale. In other words, you will be able to maximise your profits.

Use Case 2: Defining sales areas of equal market size in key destinations
Another very convenient feature of SAMT is the ability to display a trace-over layer, in addition to the main geometry layer used for creation of sales territories.

For example, a dataset outlining extents of the largest cities could be displayed on the map as a trace-over layer to highlight locations to concentrate on. Polygons of suburbs overlapping with these reference locations could then be used to create a set of sales territories.

And if those polygons are attributed with market size information (e.g. population counts, as in the previous use case, or $ market size estimates based on Household Expenditure Survey data), it will be possible to create territories with equal potential.

Example of using trace-over layer when marking primary territories

Given current sales resources, organisations can maximise profit opportunities by focusing on the largest and the most accessible geographic markets. And having a fair estimate of the potential in each target area will help with setting reasonable expectations about anticipated revenue but also with managing workloads of sales staff and measuring their relative performance objectively.

Use Case 3: Marking delivery zones
“Select by circle” functionality of SAMT allows drawing on the map a circle with a defined radius form a predefined point. This functionality makes it easy to define delivery zones by selecting polygons within the specified distance from a location of interest. And since polygons selected and compiled into zones by smaller radius circles are not included in the circles with a bigger radius, it is a very easy to define secondary and subsequent delivery zones. 

A list of polygons included in the selection (i.e. defined delivery zones) can be downloaded in csv format and converted into look-up tables for sales staff to, for example, calculate appropriate delivery charges when filling orders from customers. 

Example of defining delivery zones from postcodes: 5km, 15km and 30km radius 

These three use cases demonstrate how simple, spatially enabled apps can help in day to day operations of business of any size. Why would anyone spend days, or sometimes weeks, and very often many thousands of dollars, trying to accomplish what can be done with SAMT in a matter of minutes?

Even very small, incremental improvements in efficiency of your operations, or a decision that allows better optimising profit opportunity, can make a huge difference over time - so you can reach your goals faster and shorten the path to success.

MapDeck is still in locked beta-test release phase but subscribers to stand-alone SAMT v1 app can take advantage of free access to MapDeck tools and data at no additional cost. Contact aus-emaps.com on info@aus-emaps.com for more information.

Related Posts:
Sales Area Management Tool 2015 Upgrade

Friday, November 27, 2015

Overview of MapDeck support for common map layer services

MapDeck mission is to personalise location intelligence services. That is, to deliver tailored solutions to meet specific requirements of a wide range of users - from private individuals and small business operators, to professionals and persons in corporate roles.

Flexibility in selection and ease of mixing map layers is a basic requirement for personalising map creation process. It is especially important for those users who are just starting to master the power of maps for decision making and who are not yet technically savvy to use advanced features of spatial software.

Unfortunately, the reality is that even a simple task, such as displaying several map layers from different web services, can turn into quite a challenge because of incompatibilities of variants of public web map services available on the Internet.

MapDeck’s Map Layers Manager handles that complexity of options, which makes it easy for anybody to work with almost any map layer, regardless of web service origin.

"[It] handles information published in Open Street Map (OSM), Tile Map Service (TMS), Web Map Tile Service (WMTS), Web Map Service (WMS) as well as ESRI image, map and tile service formats..."

Map Layers Manager tool handles information published in Open Street Map (OSM) tile format, but also those in Tile Map Service (TMS), Web Map Tile Service (WMTS), Web Map Service (WMS) as well as ESRI image, map and tile service formats. Also those variants requiring access key and/or published with custom parameters. That should cover 99% of map service formats available on the Internet.

MapDeck users have an option to subscribe to Map Layers Manager app which will give them the ability to create their own map layers from almost any web map service publicly available on the Internet. These custom map layers can then be used to create personalised maps and/or can be shared with other MapDeck users.

But perhaps of the most interest to all is that, thanks to Map Layers Manager, many public, as well as commercial, web services will be catalogued and pre-configured for immediate use with MapDeck apps, making it very easy to discover and mash map layers, and ultimately to customise map content to individual requirements.

MapDeck.com public page

The first batch of 32 public map layers has already been published on MapDeck beta test version. Additional 220+ map layer services have already been preconfigured and they will be progressively released to MapDeck users.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Sales Area Management Tool 2015 upgrade

As MapDeck is getting readied for the official, albeit soft launch in December 2015 we would like to start introducing individual apps that will provide initial functionality of the platform.

Sales Area Management Tools (SAMT) is the first app we would like to bring to your attention. Initially developed as a stand-alone proof of concept, SAMT is now fully integrated with MapDeck platform. It means, output can now be saved in the cloud and can be shared with nominated individuals. And SAMT is now accessible on any screen size (i.e. desktop, tablets and on mobile phones).

Sales Area Management Tool: mobile screen view

SAMT functionality was significantly expanded. For example, users can now select any polygon structures to build their territories with, including postal areas/ zip codes, suburbs and other administrative boundaries available in MapDeck catalogue.

These boundaries can be joined with attribute information, like counts of persons or estimates of market value, so when polygons are joined into territories overall totals for individual territories are calculated automatically. It will help in creating balanced territories and with rebalancing territories as local market conditions change over time.

Sales Area Management Tool: territories with attributes (desktop view)

Map window now extends to a full screen and users have much more control over styling of individual territories. There is an option to change base map background to any map layer available in MapDeck catalogue. As well, users have the ability to display only one territory at a time (e.g. for printing purposes).

For ease of use, polygon names appear on-mouse-over and location search is now a standard functionality of SAMT. Sorting by name or id, and searching within long lists of territories, is also supported.

Sales Area Management Tool: filter by territory name and mouse-over functions (desktop view)

Users have the ability to create several versions of territories and saving them all in the same data table.

However, the most significant innovation added to SAMT is the ability to include a trace-over layer on the map. This functionality can be very handy for displaying older versions of territories in the background when creating an updated or alternative version. Or in case where territories have to be reconstructed from a different geography.

For example, territories created from postal areas could be easily recreated with suburbs when the former is used for reference as a trace-over layer.

Sales Area Management Tool: recreating postcode based territory (orange) with suburbs (purple)

The latest version of Sales Area Management Tool can be accessed right now by current users of version 1 of the app. Please contact MapDeck’s Australian affiliate aus-emaps.com via email on info@aus-emaps.com to arrange for login details.