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Proceedings of the 15th International Symposium on Advances in Geographic Information Systems

ACM GIS 2007

Visual Analytic Services for Geomarketing in Spatial Data

Vera Hernndez Ernst Angi Voss Felix Berghoff
Fraunhofer IAIS Fraunhofer IAIS Kurier-Verlag Lennestadt
Schloss Birlinghoven Schloss Birlinghoven Klner Strae 18
53754 Sankt Augustin, Germany 53754 Sankt Augustin, Germany 57368 Lennestadt-Grevenbrck,
(+49) 2241 142625 (+49) 2241 142726 Germany

ABSTRACT processing so that users obtain answers to the problems at their

This article is about the GEOeBIZ project which wants to hand. With their service-oriented architectures, spatial data
improve business opportunities in geomarketing for small and infrastructures (SDIs) can be extended to value-adding service
medium enterprises. The projects central hypothesis is that chains from source data to task-specific solutions (Fornefeld and
spatial data infrastructures will move from data catalogues to Oefinger 2005).
federated platforms for the development of low cost and low risk The GEOeBIZ project ( aims at contributing to
applications. To complement the data-retrieval services of the this change. GEOeBIZ involves two research institutions and four
Open GeoSpatial Consortium the project will design, implement sponsoring industrial partners from the geoinformation sector.
and apply both, visual analysis services for geomarketing and e- From January 2007 June 2008 the project is supported by the
business services for commercial exploitation. The article German Ministry for Economics as part of its innovation and
proposes a framework and services for visual analysis. networking initiative innonet (
As proofs of concept, GEOeBIZ will develop and later operate
Categories and Subject Descriptors web portals for two geomarketing tasks in SMEs: site assessment
H.3.5 [Online Information Services]: Web-based services and planning of distribution areas. This article will focus on these
two applications, analyze the tasks and distill services for a visual
General Terms analytics approach. First commercial geomarketing portals have
Design, Standardization gone online, for example Marion24 ( and, more
recently, Mapchart ( However, such portals
are proprietary solutions and not backed up by a distributed SDI.
Geovisualization, spatial analytics, service infrastructure,
ebusinesss models
The Internet has become a global data distribution channel and a
substrate for services, with portals as frontends. Such web portal
1. MOTIVATION should have a clear target group and offer solutions to specific but
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have hesitated to use typical tasks of this group.
spatial data due to high costs and missing competence in
In GEOeBIZ, the portals shall demonstrate that
geographic information systems. Rightfully so. The use of such
systems requires experts, and even dedicated geomarketing - there are geomarketing tasks for a commercially substantial
software may be a challenge if not used regularly. Furthermore, target group,
geographic data for marketing are sold in large packages at - the tasks can be decomposed into units, preferably services,
substantial fees, and even periodical updates are costly. with a high potential for easy reuse,
- there are business models that are attractive and simple
The Internet, on the other hand, is a distribution channel that
enough for all involved parties,
could improve this situation. And the EU resolution from
- the business models are technically feasible because they can
November 2006 to establish a European spatial data infrastructure
be implemented through standard services "ebusiness"
(INSPIRE) is one more argument for using spatial data in new
application fields. Soon, geodata from public sources will become
This article deals with the first two issues. Site assessment and the
available in large quantities. However, the data will need further
planning of distribution areas for marketing material have been
chosen as commercially relevant applications that involve tasks
with a high potential of reuse.
Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for
personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are
not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that 2.1 Site Assessment
copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. To copy Companies from various branches need to assess locations for
otherwise, or republish, to post on servers or to redistribute to lists, several purposes: choosing among alternatives for new sites,
requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. comparing the performance of a point of sale (PoS) with the
ACMGIS '07, November 79, 2007, Seattle, WA. market potential and competitors in its catchment area, or tuning a
Copyright 2007 ACM 978-1-59593-914-2/07/11$5.00.
shop to the customers in its catchment area. A solution of this task either as driving distance or as driving time. A catchment area
may consist of three subtasks: market analysis, penetration consists of all road segments that can be reached from the location
analysis and actual site assessment (Schssler 2006). through the road network and lie within the given radius. Colors
Market analysis: For this kind of analysis the users need not distinguish different catchment areas. The user chooses the data
upload any data. They will position the map to the area of their that shall be aggregated to the catchment area. This can be data
interest and choose data from the portal's catalogue of geographic from the portal, scores computed for the road segments during
marketing data. The data will be shown at the level of road market analysis, or measures of the locations obtained during
segments to support fine-grained microgeographic analysis. In market or penetration analysis. The resulting numerical attributes
addition, locations of affine or competitive branches may be are added to the table of the locations.
selected, and aerial views may be inserted as background.
The methods for visual analysis should not overburden the users.
2.2 Planning Distribution Areas
Many regional companies that deliver mail, journals or shopping
Only three methods for analyzing one, two and more numerical
newspapers offer the distribution of promotional brochures as an
attributes will be provided. For one attribute, the user can choose
additional service to their customers. The customers, however,
a type of classification (e.g. equal classes or equal intervals),
may expect advice on the best areas of such a marketing action.
adjust the class boundaries and change the color schema. The road
Their budget determines the number of households that may
segments on the map and a supplementary dotplot will be colored
receive a brochure and, within this limit, the most attractive area
accordingly. For two attributes, the dot plot is replaced by a two-
is sought for distribution. The delivery area for the marketing
dimensional scatterplot with maximum 5*5 cells. The user can
action is composed of basic delivery districts, which are specific
choose from several two-dimensional coloring schemas. For more
to the delivery company and may be defined by street lists or
attributes, the user can compute a score by differentiating cost and
drawings on a paper map. To be attractive, a basic district should
benefit criteria and assigning a weight to each attribute. The score
be close to the customer's PoS and have a high potential of the
can be used like any numeric attribute. It can be classified or used
marketing actions target group. The potential may be determined
as a criterion in a hierarchical score. The methods were developed
from different characteristics of the households in a basic district.
for CommonGIS ( and are described in
(Andrienko and Andrienko 2005). This task involves several subtasks. First, the user must define the
companys basic delivery districts and enrich them with selected
Penetration analysis: For this subtask the user has to upload
marketing data from the portals catalogue. Next, the PoS are
tables of locations with addresses and business figures. Different
uploaded and the distances to the basic districts are computed. A
types of locations may be distinguished in one table, or be
score for the target group is computed from the data that were
uploaded in different tables, e.g. for shops, installations
aggregated to the basic districts. Finally, for the given number of
(mailboxes or machines), and customers with home delivery. For
households the best basic districts are selected based on distance
display on the map, the addresses will be geocoded. This can be
and score.
done by interpolation in a road network or through a gazetteer
service that returns precise coordinates. For the basic delivery districts a table with street lists can be
uploaded. They are matched with the addresses of buildings in a
On the map, the locations may be colored according to
marketing database. The data of matching buildings are
classifications as described before. However, the numerical
aggregated to the basic delivery districts. The polygon of such a
attributes now come from the user's tables rather than from the
district is computed from voronoi cells for the addresses restricted
portal's catalogue. If the tables contain assignments, e.g. of
by buffers of the road segments. Once the basic delivery districts
customers to shops, these can be displayed by lines, e.g. from
have been constructed, a score can be computed as described
shops to their customers.
earlier. The PoS have to be uploaded and are processed and
Site assessment: For this subtask the user uploads a table with the displayed on the map as described for the other application. The
locations to be assessed. In case of only one or few locations, the minimum distance between a basic delivery district and PoS is
addresses may be entered manually or directly indicated on the automatically computed and can be used for cross-classification
map. Next, the user determines the radius of the catchment areas, with the score. The user can then select the most attractive
districts by clicking on any display, i.e. map, dotplot, scatterplot,
or table. The number of households of the current selection is
automatically summed up and displayed.

Figure 2. Selection of basic delivery districts using a cross-

classification between distance and potential
Figure 1. Map with three catchment areas for two sites

3. VISUAL ANALYTIC SERVICES FOR Most of the scenarios developed so far center on handling sensor
data and imagery. Unfortunately, a framework for a geomarketing
GEOMARKETING scenario has neither been proposed nor called for in any OGC
working group. It should take into account that the services
3.1 Requirements cannot be defined statically, since the analysis and visualization
The research field of Visual Analytics (VA) (Thomas and Cook
methods can vary according to the data and the specific user
2005) aims at facilitating analytical reasoning through interactive
purposes. Moreover, geomarketing tasks will require a domain-
visual interfaces. When defining visual analyis services for
specific semantic based on economic geography for strategical
geomarketing a first hurdle to overcome is the gap between
planning (Szabo 2006).
geodata services, as provided by SDIs and the powerful
functionalities of present analytic GIS and geomarketing tools. On
the one hand, the user expects high interaction with various 3.3 Approach
components that present different, but synchronized views of the Our framework for the easy construction of geomarketing portals
data. On the other hand, currently operated SDIs mainly provide regards the postulated characteristics for VA services and will
services for requesting and discovering spatial content, principally implement some of the concepts from OWS phase 4.
Web Mapping Services, Web Feature Services and Catalog Analysis tasks for geomarketing will logically be represented as
Services. The requests to these services are static. That means, a workflows. They describe complex VA services, whose basic
call transforms stored data for filtering or portrayal, but does not components will be called simple VA services. Simple and
keep the received parameters for the next request. The only complex VA-services will be implemented as Web Processing
exceptions are transactional requests for features (WFS-T), which Services (WPS) to cover characteristics 1-3 above. Although
impact the stored data for all further service users. But during WPS are still under discussion at OGC, we chose them as
visual analysis a user individually interacts with a method. To interface since they provide a status request for extended
avoid repeating the whole processing at each minimal change, an computations. Furthermore, they specify how to describe, store or
individual state should be kept for each user. reference inputs and outputs and thus facilitate service chaining
A second problem is related to reaction times. The processing and the development of reusable frameworks and clients (Schut
may involve large data volumes or may be too complex to finish and Whiteside 2007).
before a timeout is sent to the service consumer. In this case, the Each WPS will be described according to the type of operation,
client needs to be informed of the process results asynchronously the input data types and the result type. The signature will be
to the request. The results can be transformed by visualization enhanced by semantic information based on a geomarketing
operations, which are not inherent to the processing task and can ontology, e.g. OWL-S for semantic markups of complex VA
vary according to user preferences or the design of the services ( This enables
application. The visualization method is constrained, but not us to search for specific services by calling and interpreting the
determined by the characteristics of the result. For example, a DescribeProcess operation and chain them to a workflow for an
score of locations may be represented by the color or the size of analysis task.
the location symbols. Finally, the result may be requested in
A complex VA service will have interaction interfaces, an event
different formats: as image or vector data.
notification mechanism and a set of chained simple VA services
Thus, a visual analysis service for geomarketing has the following controlled by a workflow engine, thus covering characteristics 5
characteristics: and 6 above. The final operational configuration can be set up
1. It is a stateful processing service. during instantiation. As simple VA services can be discovered and
2. It may perform a process or workflow. chained, different visualization services can be applied for the
3. It can be requested asynchronously for extended operations. same task. Also different interaction interfaces can be registered
4. The workflow components (services) can be defined at each in order to change task parameters and receive notifications of
invocation. status changes. Finally, the framework will provide some client
5. It can be modified by user interaction. components that can communicate with services and can be used
6. It allows the output of an operation to be displayed in several in different portal applications.
3.4 Simple VA Services
3.2 State of the Art Simple VA services are described according to the input, the
Several new service specifications and many change requests for operation, the result type and possible interaction mechanisms.
processing, messaging and the control of workflows have been Two types of simple services can be distinguished: processing
proposed in a user-driven way in the Open Geospatial services that create new attributes of existing geographic objects,
Consortiums (OGC) interoperability program or features in the terminology of geographic information systems,
( Particularly the and services that create new types of features.
OWS interoperability initiative testbed activity has a thread for
Feature attribute processing services:
geo-processing workflows (GPW) aimed at interconnecting geo-
processes through publishing, binding and finding mechanisms. - Simple classification divides a numeric attribute into
This thread ties in with former phases, and participants of the graduated class intervals, e.g. for different coloring.
present call for phase 5 are encouraged to contribute to concept - 2-dimensional classification divides 2 numeric attributes
maturation by using real-world scenarios and incorporating right into graduated class intervals, e.g. for a scatterplot matrix.
access to resources.

- Coloring / iconization assigns a style to each feature 4. OUTLOOK
according to the chosen presentation method. This article introduced the GEOeBIZ project with its objective to
- Filtering yields a boolean classification of a feature move spatial data infrastructures from data catalogues to
(visible/not visible) according to a given filtering method. federated platforms for the development of low cost and low risk
- Scoring/ranking assigns a score to the elements of a set or applications. Starting from requirements for site assessment and
ranks them according to a given scoring method. the planning of distribution areas, a framework for VA services
- Feature join links two feature data sources together with a was proposed. More details on the VA services, complementary
defined condition, equivalent to left table join on databases. ebusiness services and their integration are available in
- Catchment area: Based on a street network the driving (Hernndez Ernst et al. 2007).
distance to a feature is calculated. The outermost points of
the street segments are linked together to a polygon which is After requirements analysis and conceptual design, the project has
assigned to the feature. already reached the second of four implementation phases.
Feature type creation services create a new feature type with Beyond proving the mere feasibility of a service infrastructure for
geometrical attributes from one or more features: geomarketing, efficiency is an issue: Will a thin client enable the
kind of interaction with maps and other displays that we are
- Aggregation groups features together according to methods accustomed to in desktop software? Will service chains work fast
applied to geometric or non-geometric attributes and enough? Will the user interface be self-explanatory for users
computes a new attribute value for each group. without any background in geographic information systems?
- Parcelation divides a territory containing point features. An
example is the method voronoi computation, where each An analysis of typical geomarketing tasks (Wilkening 2007)
parcel has exactly one point feature. shows that the services suggested here indeed implement
functions that occur in many geomarketing tasks. They have a
- Geometric arithmetic comprises computations based on one
high potential for reuse and should be contributed to
geometric feature or the combination of two geometric
standardization in the context of the OGC.
feature types by applying an arithmetic method like
buffering, intersection, feature mapping (star).
- Geocoding: Based on a textual location description a 5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
geometric feature is selected and its attributes are returned. This article is a result of many meetings and discussions with our
project partners. Our thanks especially to Roland Wagner and
3.5 Complex VA Services Rdiger Gartmann from ifgi at University of Mnster, Jochen
Complex VA services implement the tasks and subtasks of Hahn from the Global Group, Teddy Gruner and Denise Plum
geomarketing. They are mostly set up according to the schema in from DDS, and Christian Elfers from con terra.
figure 3.
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