GWF2014: Geotechnologies becoming the backbone of business intelligence across industries

GWF2014: Geotechnologies becoming the backbone of business intelligence across industries

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Geneva: Business Intelligence data and analysis is an increasingly important tool for executives and financial managers but few businesses take full advantage of spatial and location analysis. The session on Business Intelligence on the fourth and final day of the Geospatial World Forum focussed on how businesses across the world are harnessing the power of location and geotechnologies in areas like targeted marketing and market analysis, routing and logistics, commercial real estate feasibility and planning, and customer service infrastructure.

Chris Dermody, Chief Information Officer, Denver Water, USA, spoke on Colorado’s largest utility’s assessing options, costs versus benefits and implementation of a mobile work management solution. Sharing practical experiences and insights he exemplified how Denver Water worked to drive greater transparency, performance and accountability within the organisation through the use of contemporary technologies. These objectives were achieved by challenging existing technology paradigms, developing credible cost/benefit analysis and implementing a world-class mobile work management solution that produces increased efficiencies and effectiveness, delivers essential performance metrics and enables improved asset management. Denver Waters journey to full enterprise mobility continues to evolve in parallel with unprecedented rates of change in core technologies and dynamic innovation cycles. This environment, while challenging, also produces quantum leaps in mobile computing capabilities, system virtualisation, data integration, and public data services such as Google and Bing maps — all of which present advanced options for utilities to improve customer care and operational efficiencies.

Dennis Devriendt, Technical Director, 4CGrid, Belgium, said emerging technologies could be challenging for companies, both matured, well established, and start-ups. With Geo ICT becoming more and more applicable across businesses, the challenges are found on conceptual, managerial and operational levels. The process of incubation is an efficient way to let a company grow into a new technology without completely overthrowing its initial business model. The new activities are grown within a separate unit and when proven mature enough, are being released and integrated in the corporate structure. 4CGrid has been applying this incubation process successfully since 2012 in companies in Western Europe.

Prof. Yaron Felus, Chief Scientist, Survey of Israel, presented a location-based business intelligence (LBBI) system that has been developed by his team for the Israeli real estate market. This LBBI system, which emerged following the latest public demand to reduce housing costs in Israel, will enable the government to make better decisions and get reliable answers to key questions. Some questions that the system will be able to answer include: what are the best (e.g., cost and benefits) areas for new building construction? Where are the optimal places to support renovation of existing neighborhood, what would be the influence of applying a certain economic measure on the prices. The development of LBBI is a complicated task which was divided into three components. First, the input: the system has to include a rich database of real estate datasets including topographic data, cadastral data, financial data, planning information demographic data, etc, he said.

The creation of this integrated database is a challenging undertaking due to technical but mostly institutional difficulties (lack of cooperation between offices).Moreover, the development of geospatial statistical data required the use of innovative methods, i.e. functionality: the LBBI should provide a plethora of tools, queries and analysis methods (prediction module) for a variety of governmental users and needs. Finally, the output: the LBBI should be linked and connected with a variety of computerized systems and output platforms. Moreover, the LBBI output should be diverse and include maps, report, text and database files, charts and graphs, Prof Felus added.

Ali El Battay, Assistant Professor, Arabian Gulf University, Bahrain, talked about the need for using geospatial techniques to compare real estate potential of two residential manmade islands — Reef Island and Amwaj Islands in Bahrain.

Pointing out that since more than a decade, Bahrain, like many other GCC countries had adopted a policy of land reclamation as manmade artificial islands, Battay said Amwaj and Reef are two examples of successful manmade islands in Bahrain where investors and home buyers find it difficult to choose. Both projects started less than 10 years ago and are in different stages of development.

A study done by the Arabian Gulf University found that many of these artificial islands are intended mainly for high standing and luxurious residential purpose with significant components of recreational and touristic facilities. The study focused on the use of geospatial techniques to produce a comprehensive comparison between both developments (at the level of the whole island not individual buildings). A series of high resolution optical images (RapidEye) was used to extract main features in both islands (temporal percentage of achievement, road density, building crowdiness, beach ratio and quality convenience, waterfront dwelling ratio, etc). Thermal bands from Landsat 7 were used to extract water surface temperature during March, July and September 2012. A complete real estate database included more than 3,000 records along with field work data which were combined to statistically perform a real estate trend analysis. Results obtained was then compiled and presented via a GIS to produce various maps to help future investors/home buyer in their decision making process. Results show that Reef Island is developing more as a mega compound where Amwaj Island tends towards becoming a mini- city.

For beaches and recreation it turns that Amwaj Island has more variety of beaches with bathymetry allowing a gradiant of temperature more suitable for many period of the year. Even though, this study has focuses on the island as a whole, which gives the contextual environment to perform a determination of the real value of their properties. Geospatial techniques are a crucial element for a more holistic business intelligence model for the vibrant real estate market in the island state of Bahrain.

Jan Van de Steen, Service Line Manager, GIS, Capgemini, Belgium, said ‘Being Smart’ often means ‘being at the right place on the right moment’. A smarter world would be a world in which man has more control over where and when things happen. Already today, business optimisation programmes are using time and location dimensions to improve effectiveness or efficiency. From service dispatching and routing, to optimised project planning and environmental risk management, it is all a matter of understanding where and when things happen, and predicting or planning where they will happen. In a world full of invisible infostructures with millions of connected devices and sensors, huge amounts of time-stamped information become available.

De Steen’s presentation highlighted the opportunities and constraints of time-aware applications for Capgemini, while emphasising the need for ‘fuzzy logic’ analysis in optimisation, and illustrated with real operational examples.

He added that recently, with the broad utilisation of GPS and other locating techniques, more and more events are not only time-stamped, but also location-stamped. Using these large volumes of geo-temporal data represents a major ‘big data’ challenge. Geo-event- processing services are essential for filtering out relevant information from the event data flows, delivering comprehensive decision-ready information to businesses. Analysis of recorded information then provides insights to optimise future operations and plans.

Nicola Sandoli, Business Development Manager, ICONSULTING, Italy talked about how retail companies use spatial data to arrive at better decision making.

Since the majority of corporate data has a spatial connotation, decision support systems and business intelligence platforms need to take into account the geographical dimension, he said. There are many examples of mash-ups at a frontend level that integrate maps visualisations and traditional BI, but spatial data usually resides on separate GIS. This leads to features and performances serious limitations.

Sandoli gave the example of a Location Intelligence architecture based on data integration designed by Iconsulting for a retail client. The distinguishing factor of the solution is the geo-data warehouse or a centralised repository that stores spatial and alphanumerical data tied together for analysis purposes. Spatial attributes can be leveraged both for visualisations and to gain insights on business data. Location Intelligence leads Vodafone Italy beyond the traditional Geomarketing by the analysis of Points of Sales performances and the territory potential. It compares the performances of similar PoS enriching the process with external data like Open Data from Ministries or Italian National Statistical Institute (ISTAT). The output is then visualised on dashboards that transparently integrate tables, charts and interactive maps. The demonstration also shows how retail companies use this platform to find the best spot for planning openings of new PoS. Through Location Intelligence for retail, indoor analysis is also available – i.e. drill-down inside the PoS highlights which areas generate higher sales, or whether the presence of specific elements ‘such as fan-coil or restroom’ increases or decreases attractiveness of sales locations. A user-friendly mechanism is integrated in the BI platform to upload Georaster Floor Layouts and to create/edit/move Features of Interest on top of them.

Marco Vignoli, Consultant Expert, also from ICONSULTING, presented another case study where the IT company’s location intelligence solution empowers analytical capabilities for the health care in Italy by enabling analysis from a regional geographic point of view down to a detailed level. It shows what happens inside Health Boards, Districts and Local Health Authorities both public hospitals and private healthcare providers.

Regione Emilia-Romagna, one of the most efficient organisations in Italy for health care and managing more than 60 millions recoveries each year, employs the Regione Emilia-Romagna healthcare solution, which uses KPIs to analyse and measure patient safety and quality of care (number of hospital discharges, number of health services, number of medication errors, bed occupancy, etc.). It evaluates the health care service level by comparing geographic coverage to demographic distribution.

A centralised Geo-Data Warehouse is the core of the infrastructure: it integrates both business and geographic data with external data like Open Data (demographics, geographic borders, etc.) and represents an essential component managed as Big Data. The presence of the Geo-Data Warehouse certificates the outcomes as the single version of truth of the entire data assets of the organisation.

Iconsulting Healthcare framework highlights which area is making the most of public investment, where patients are from or what are the excellences in managing specific specialties. Through a powerful browser-based user interface or mobile devices, users may analyse their dimensions of interest (patients, infrastructures, hospital discharges, health services, first aid, etc.). It is possible to interact with standard alphanumerical views (tables and charts) and at the same time with the cartographic representations of desired phenomena. The location intelligence framework extends the power of BI tools with GIS which also enables ‘what-if’ analysis to provide an automated tool for planning health services. Users can simulate future scenarios by removing or repositioning existing structures, divisions or services, which are immediately represented onto a map showing the impact of these actions for citizens and local health authorities.

Source: Our correspondent