May 19, 2008
Access “Geo” From Inside Microsoft Office 2007
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor


by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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GISWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Top News of the Week, Acquisitions/Agreements/Alliances, Announcements, New Products, Around the Web and Events Calendar.


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Susan Smith, Managing Editor


Industry News

Access “Geo” From Inside Microsoft Office 2007

By Susan Smith


GfK Geomarketing’s software applications RegioGraph and DISTRICT have been updated so they can now perform geomarketing from within Microsoft Office 2007 Excel, Word and PowerPoint.


Based on Microsoft’s .NET technology, the updated RegioGraph 10 and DISTRICT 10 include the plug-in for Microsoft Office 2007 in addition to a map set of any European country of choice plus purchasing power data for European countries.


RegioGraph and DISTRICT have been around for more than 17 years and have always been independent from other GIS platforms such as ESRI or MapInfo. “It’s always our goal to provide geomarketing solutions that integrate well into the Microsoft Office environment, as this is the standard platform for 99% of our customers,” explained Cornelia Lichtner, public relations director for GfK Geomarketing.


RegioGraph and DISTRICT are geomarketing software solutions geared towards sales, controlling, marketing and expansion departments. They support users in common business tasks such as optimizing sales territories, planning new locations, organizing direct marketing campaigns, assessing sales results, creating company reports and presentations, etc.


Entrepreneurs and the enterprise are just beginning to understand the “geo” factor as a decisive element in most entrepreneurial settings. Lichtner said that all too commonly, companies regard implementing GIS or geomarketing solutions as a laborious task requiring significant time and/or training. It is very often viewed as a tool used only by geospatial professionals. “That’s why we focus so heavily on making our software easy to use. When people see that it’s very user-friendly and has such huge benefits and actually helps save time, they come to see the software as a necessity rather than merely a nice extra,” said Lichtner.


Achieving user friendliness employs two approaches:


The first is to give the geomarketing software a Windows “look and feel” that emulates the familiar Microsoft-style tool bars and layout;


The second is to maximize the compatibility in terms of technology.


As an example: with the new plug-in, it’s now possible to export a sales territory network from Excel to DISTRICT without even switching applications. Similarly, it takes just one mouse-click to export a map analysis created in the geomarketing software to a PowerPoint presentation. Changes can be made in a geomarketing project and reflected on the maps associated with that project.


The convergence of technology helps make geomarketing accessible for as many users as possible. “Our experience shows that learning to use our RegioGraph and DISTRICT software is very straightforward. Most users master it within a couple of days by using our Quick Start Manual or attending a two-day training course. Even without any prior knowledge of geomarketing, statistics or cartography, they are ready to go after these quickly completed orientations.”


Because in recent years, Microsoft has developed geospatial applications aimed at the consumer, with its Microsoft Virtual Earth, Live Search Maps and MapPoint Web Service, which are geared to consumers, it would appear that GfK Marketing’s offerings would strongly complement their existing solutions.


“We have a long-term partnership with Microsoft that both sides are very pleased with. We are particularly happy to give our customers the option to acquire these two components – our geomarketing software RegioGraph together with Office 2007 – in a very attractive product bundle,” said Lichtner. “It’s also not the only bundle we offer: as part of the worldwide GfK network, we can provide a huge array of regional market data for any market worldwide. Our global geomarketing products and perspective – which include not only software, but also Europe-wide market data, worldwide digital maps and geomarketing consultancy for location planning and real estate evaluation –
makes us feel very much at home in that environment.”


Although Virtual Earth is a valuable tool in its own right, Lichtner stressed that the main focus in GfK’s geomarketing applications lies in creating purely thematic maps with business analyses. Whatever topographical detail is needed is already provided in the map set that comes with the software.


As GfK’s software runs independently of any other GIS platform and technology, many map formats can be used with RegioGraph and DISTRICT. There is also a map format converter that automatically converts .shp files or TAB files to their own .gfk format. “But really we focus on developing solutions that enhance our own geomarketing applications,” Lichtner pointed out. “The Office plug-in is especially useful with regard to our software applications, as they are used on a daily basis in sales and marketing environments for which Microsoft Office is the standard.”


Currently, many scientific and other institutions and public authorities use RegioGraph and DISTRICT. Ultimately, because of the flexibility of the products, Lichtner envisions them being used for any type of business or agency, from the industrial or service sector to the pharmaceutical, insurance and banking sectors – both B2B and B2C. “In short, any context in which spatial analysis plays a role,” offered Lichtner. “Areas of application span from sales territory planning and market or target group analysis to defining catchment areas, automating sales reports, planning locations, visualizing product flows and strategic tasks such as international expansion planning.”


Top News of the Week


The
Department of Water Resources (DWR) has released a new water resources data management tool called the Integrated Water Resources Information System (IWRIS). IWRIS is a Web-based Geographic Information System application that allows users to access, integrate, query, and visualize multiple sets of data from diverse sources.


Some of the databases currently accessible through IWRIS include DWR’s Water Data Library, California Data Exchange Center (CDEC), United States Geological Survey streamflow data, Local Groundwater Assistance Grants (AB303), and data from local agencies. The system will be expanded with additional data sets and functionality in the future.


Infoterra Ltd has launched a new Managed Service solution to enhance business decision support for insurance professionals by delivering improved risk intelligence.


Working with Infoterra, underwriters, loss adjusters and other insurance professionals will be able to combine their current and prospective property portfolios with a range of geospatial information and perils datasets. This will enable them to gain risk intelligence at an individual property level and to have a comprehensive geographical view of exposure in a given area.


Announcements


GISCafe has started coverage of trade shows using short video interviews and demonstrations. The first trade show to be covered in this format is the ASPRS Conference in Portland, Oregon. Sixteen short videos were shot for this conference. Most of them are less than one minute long.

The videos are available


The show photos are available at this


SPOT Image Corporation has been providing its Reference3D Digital Elevation Data (DEM) to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) to supplement an important global foundation elevation data set that the Agency has been producing since 2002. The SPOT data is used to supplement data collected during the February 2000 Shuttle Radar Topographic Mission (SRTM) Space Shuttle mission. The NGA’s project involves the production of medium resolution and high accuracy DEM data for the entire Earth landmass from 60 degrees north latitude to 56 degrees south latitude. Over 14,277 geocells (one degree of latitude by one degree of longitude)
of landmass coverage are included in this data set. Since the SRTM mission, the NGA and partner commercial companies have been processing and finishing the geocell data.


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-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.


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