The following text is Gil Castle's final draft of the real estate column appearing in Business Geographics, August 1998
Copyright © 1998 GIS
In October 1998 my long-promised book "GIS in Real Estate" will be published by The Appraisal Institute, in conjunction with GIS World, Inc. The appendix of the book contains Web sites of resources that I believe are particularly relevant to real estate professionals and students. A major portion of that appendix is reproduced below.
Incidentally, a book I recently found to be very insightful vis-a-vis making money on the Internet Is Evan L. Schwartz's "Webonomics: Nine Essential Principles for Growing Your Business on the World Wide Web" (Broadway Books, 1997)—which I purchased (where else?) at www.amazon.com .
"The devil is in the details" in GIS as in life. While most real estate professionals prefer not to become immersed in the technicalities of the technology, a rudimentary understanding of the vocabulary can only be helpful. The following are several glossaries for determining the importance to one's professional life of such frequently used GIS terms as polygons, arcs, centroids, slivers, rubber-sheeting, edge-matching, etc.
Jefferson County (Colorado) GIS
Association for Geographic Information (AGI)
British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Lands, and Parks
GIS PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES
"Misery loves company," but so does euphoria, and all emotions in between. Relatively few professional societies exist to provide a forum for sharing GIS experiences, but some (notably URISA) have innumerable local chapters to increase interaction opportunities. In addition to the list below, several vendors have active users groups around the country and even around the world.
Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA)
"A cluttered mind"...I can't recall the rest of the expression, probably because my mind is too full of other trivia. Finding out that someone else has assembled a Whole Lot Of Stuff in one place is terrific for data pack rats and non-pack rats alike. Here are a few such sites.
Federal Geographic Data Committee—Clearinghouse
International Real Estate Directory
Peter Pike's "Pikenet"
Real Estate Information Providers Association (REIPA)
NOTE: The vendors are listed under one of the following four categories: Software, Digital Data, Attribute (Tabular) Data, or Services. Many vendors offer products and services in two or more of these four categories.
When I first became involved with GIS two decades ago, essentially only four companies provided GIS software—at a price in six figures. Innumerable companies now offer generic and special purpose software, scripting languages, various GIS utilities, and so on, for as low as two figures. To complicate matters further, GIS tools are rapidly migrating to the Internet. Keeping up is no easy task, but here is my less-than-complete list of vendors to watch.
Cypress Geo-Resources Inc.
GeoSystems Global Corp.
The IDRISI Project
Insurance Services Office Inc.
MAPCOM Systems Inc.
MatchWare Technologies Inc.
Northwood Geoscience Ltd.
Qualitative Marketing Software Inc.
SAS Institute Inc.
Tetrad Computer Applications
Total Systems Inc.
These are the maps of streets, census tracts, zip code zones, water bodies, and on and on, that are the foundation for a GIS. The principal types of maps are "vector", in which the streets et al. are comprised of thousands of longitude-latitude, State Plane, or other coordinates. Other types of digital maps include raster (e.g., bitmaps) and satelitte. The following are firms that provide pre-encoded digital maps and/or will create new digital maps from proprietary data bases.
American Digital Cartography Inc.
Desktop Mapping Technologies
Environmental Risk Information & Imaging Services
Geographic Data Technology Inc. (GDT)
HJW & Associates
Image Scans Inc.
Landcare Aviation Inc.
Magellan Systems Corp.
The MapFactory Inc.
On Target Mapping
Rolta International Inc.
Sedona GeoServices Inc.
Space Imaging EOSAT
SPOT Image Corp.
Thomas Brothers Maps
3D Imaging LLC
Attribute data is also frequently called "tabular" data. The rows of a table correspond to geographic features in a digital map, and the columns contain information about those geographic features. For example, in a table of census data at the census tract level, each row in the table would correspond to one census tract on a census tract map; the columns might contain information on the census tracts' current population, median household income, average age of residents, etc. The analytic and presentation power of a GIS is leveraged enormously when one or more tables are linked to a digital map. The following are sources of demand-side, supply-side, regulatory, and other attribute data relevant to real estate decision making.
Applied Geographic Solutions Inc.
The Buxton Co.
CACI Marketing Systems
Compusearch Micromarketing Data & Systems
Easy Analytic Software Inc.
Experian (formerly TRW Redi)
Geoscape International Inc.
National Decision Systems
NPA Data Services Inc.
Online Data Services
VISTA Information Solutions
"If you want a [GIS] job done right, do it yourself." However, if you don't have the time, expertise, software, hardware, or other resources essential to completing a task, you will want to find a subcontractor. Here is a list of places to start.
Applied Geographics, Inc.
Berger & Co.
Castillo Co. Inc.
Dakota Worldwide Corp.
Dynamic Geographic Technologies Inc.
Geo Insight International Inc.
Geodata Consultants Inc.
Geographic Services Corp.
Geomatics International Inc.
Integrated GPS Technologies Inc.
Komex International Ltd.
Mapping Technologies Inc.
Matrix Research LLC
Michael Baker Jr. Inc.
MPSI Systems Inc.
Site Perfect Research Inc.
Spatial Insights Inc.