Dave Lewand, CRE marketing/tech/mapping expert/purveyor of creGROW- and one of the most influential CRE people online - was kind enough to take the time to answer some of my questions on how mapping technologies are evolving for the industry. Here they are – totally unedited – because, as it turns out, Dave is also a really good writer. Waiting for the blog…
What’s involved in setting up interactive mapping of my listings for users on a website? And how much “interaction”/what kind of data should there be/should I have? And….do users really use these maps?
The simplest solution to integrating an interactive map of CRE property listings within a CRE website is via the Google Maps API (more detail: http://code.google.com/apis/maps/). For any CRE company that considers access to current availabilities a priority, I recommend placing this map on a website homepage. At creGROW, we have the advantage of combining website traffic analysis of all sites into one, macro-level summary highlighting navigation trends. While I’m unable to offer specific traffic results, I can tell you that, when available, site users prefer to enter property detail pages via Google Maps API. I expect this to continue as mobile/iPad traffic grows. It’s a site navigation option that should not be ignored.
I know I need to map properties and maybe I want demographic overlays. But GIS is being promoted as a “decision making tool?” How does that translate to CRE?
Geospatial analysis – or applying statistical analysis/techniques to geographically-based data – is more popular than ever in CRE. Fierce competition is resulting in more user-friendly GIS solutions. These solutions are being placed not only in the hands of GIS analysts, but also decision-makers. Take the example of a national retailer looking to expand within a new market. In the past, a CRE broker within that local market would equip a national retailer’s representative with a hardcopy site selection analysis/tour. Now, that same national retailer could and should expect much more. How much more? They should expect the ability to alter site selection analysis “on the fly” via iPad or similar as a passenger in that broker’s vehicle.
Do I really need to geocode everything?
I’m probably the most aggressive geo-coder you’ll ever meet. I geo-code just about everything. Why? Everything can be tied to a location, and much of that geo-coded data will grant you a competitive advantage when displayed properly. I encourage creGROW clients to geo-code all media – photos, videos, etc. – where possible. I can’t tell you exactly how people will communicate and navigate the internet 5-10 years from now – but I’m confident that it will involve a map. A history of recorded latitudes and longitudes will become increasingly useful for CRE. For those who specialize in multi-level office, altitude will be yet another piece of data to add.
I’ve seen some great videos on 3D projection mapping. Is that something the average CRE broker can do?
I’m more familiar with 3D Modeling, particularly within Google Earth. Google Earth will grow in popularity as it becomes easier to navigate on both desktop and mobile (see WebGL). As this happens, owners, developers and brokerage firms will want to showcase branded individual properties and portfolios within Google Earth (or similar).
Who’s winning in the “map wars?” Google, Bing…someone else?
This battle is occurring at the speed of light. Long-time mapping giant Esri has an excellent mobile solution with tremendous flexibility – ArcGIS. Google’s mobile, desktop and enterprise solutions excel in ease-of-use. Apple has the purchase power to leapfrog Google Earth 3D Modeling technology, and they are attempting to do that right now. Those who concentrate solely on GIS are part of a very deep community with an intense motivation to make maps work.
Photo: Dave Lewand