Putting the 'where' into your analytics

By Sandra Gittlen, Computerworld |  Business Intelligence, Analytics

As part of a pilot program still in its early stages and funded by PetSmart Charities, the ASPCA identified three regions in the U.S. -- Cleveland, Portland and Southeast Florida -- to apply GIS-enhanced analytics using a combination of shelter management applications, the organization's own homegrown analytics software and Esri's ArcGIS.

"Data about species, age, whether the animal has been spayed or neutered and address aren't completely telling. Overlay that on a map and suddenly you can clearly visualize specific neighborhoods that are hot spots," Miller says.

Without GIS, ASPCA workers and shelters have to know the area well enough to see patterns among addresses in static reports. GIS helps illuminate trouble zones where disproportionate intakes of animals are occurring, rendering outreach far more effective. Instead of blindly passing out brochures or parking a spay/neuter mobile van in a random area, ASPCA and shelter representatives can blanket exact neighborhoods and place spay/neuter clinics in the most in-need areas.

The pilot project should save money, enabling funding to extend to services such as fences for dog owners, breed-specific training such as for pit bull owners and more in targeted locations, Miller says.

Like traditional analytics projects, the program's outcome is dependent on the quality of the data, which has led to new processes. Shelters now verify all intake addresses for the data to be considered clean. Also, they enter the location where the animal was picked up or seen vs. the address of the person who brought him in or called. Such accuracy, the ASPCA believes, will inevitably save animals' lives.

Making servers go 'tilt'

Adding GIS to business analytics is not without cautions, though, as it can overburden servers. For instance, EDENS plans to support mobile analysis of almost 200 layers of data from internal and external databases.

A data 'layer' consists of one theme, Beitz explains, such as a property layer for EDENS shopping centers and a property layer for centers that belong to other firms. Each of these layers contains thousands of data points.

While the ArcGIS SDE resides at headquarters, the mapping services that feed into it are in the cloud. Many of the mapping services are hosted in the cloud by Esri and are then fed into the application. EDENS' proprietary data is served as local map services, and they are hosted on the firm's on-premises ArcGIS Server.


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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