Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Blind to Site, Part II

When last seen - before helping others migrate to, install and use version 10 all over the U.S. - our intrepid hero (me) was explaining the difference between location characteristics (regional data concerning demography, housing, etc.) and primary site characteristics (point data about the actual relative physical footprint).

At RPM, we collect – and include in the GIS, on-the-fly – more than 45 individual primary site characteristics for every existing and proposed store location in a client network.  When examining prospective sites, we take along a Samsung Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) running full versions of Excel and ArcMap.

We capture the data in the Samsung using an Excel spreadsheet…

 Lots and lots of data…

More data indeed than we can or will show.  And, we can even use the UMPC as a camera and take site and location pictures we can include in the GIS.  And then...

Integrate it, on the fly, with the GIS in ArcMap, where we can manage it in a GIS context with location data, site data, competitor data, market potential data, and performance data – and see if we can determine which site factors and which location factors are correlated with performance.  And then...

We build/update a dynamic optimum site model.  This is where we are going – not just collecting data on a mobile device, not just sharing it with others, but integrating it into the GIS so we can estimate the impact on network, customers and prospects.  Fast.

Next time, we’ll show you some live examples in the field, and how we pull the spreadsheet into ArcMap and Business Analyst.   

And, we’ll discuss how you can get a free Samsung UMPC (or ASUS GIS notebook) FREE with your customized GIS pre-installed, with your RPM and ESRI relationship.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bringing Windows XP to the ArcGIS 10 Party

For those who have Windows XP and want to install ArcGIS 10 and extensions, the first thing you are going to need is Service Pack 3.  Go to Control Panel – System and see what version of Windows XP you have. 

Problem is, most shops we know never updated to SP3, because SP2 was more stable, SP3 introduced new issues, yada yada yada.  Many don't have Windows Update auto configured, either.

If you don’t have SP3, and you are on a business or university or other managed network, it’s easy – you call up your network admin or IT and say “I want my XP SP3.”  Then, during the subsequent ArcGIS 10 install process they will manage, the addition of any 2008 SQL Server Client, Windows installer and .NET framework updates you need will be relatively transparent.

If you don’t have SP3 and manage your own PC, Microsoft encourages you to use Windows Update to get it.  We encourage you to download the admin version from  Chances are you will have the Stand Alone Version, but developers will need the Checked Build.  If you get the wrong one and try to install, you’ll be prompted so don’t worry.  You can also request a disk for a few dollars more.

If you try to install 10 on XP SP2 or earlier, you will encounter a couple of cycles of reboots and installation of installer and .NET updates that will result in the error message that you need SP3 to proceed, anyway -, but you can update then as well.

However.  Chances are, if you don’t have a minimum of 2GB and really, 4GB of RAM and/or a fast processor and/or video card and RAM, you are going to ignore all this and get a Windows 7 machine to run 10.  More on that next time.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Esri Business Analyst 10 Install & Update Notes

Business Analyst 10 is here! Here’s some help on installing, and then some tips on updating 9.3 projects, with an eye especially towards avoiding some pitfalls apparently related to Windows Vista.

What You Need To Get Started

·         Your BA10 USB Drive.
·         Your software license codes from ESRI Customer Service.
·         Your SDLIC data license file for Business Analyst and LF file for Address Coder from ESRI Customer Service.

Please contact us if you did not receive the USB drive, your codes, or your SDLIC or LF file.  Also, be aware that you can now manage licenses and more on line with your ESRI Global Account at  If you don’t have a Global Account, get one – you’ll need your customer number (we can help retrieve that, too).  At ArcGIS 10, we really begin to see the blurring of desktop and server based computing, and administration like this is a good place to start getting used to it.

Install Procedure

First, and always when you upgrade, make your own secondary backup of any files you created with 9.3, even though the BA install will move whatever is in My Output Data to My Output Data.backup.  If you are storing these in the My Output Data folder, simply make your own additional backup of it.  But if you are like most users, these files may be located all over your hard drive and network.  So, it is wise to take inventory of where your files are, project by project, layer by layer, by opening each project, reviewing the Source tab for each layer in the Table of Contents (TOC) – and then backing it up.

Then, simply insert the BA 10 USB drive into a USB slot on your PC, and let it autorun.  If it does not autorun, run the setup application manually from the root of the USB drive.  This will automate the process of removal of all 9.3 components and the install of first ArcGIS and then BA 10 and supporting files.  The entire process will take about 2 to 4 hours, depending upon your PC and resources.  If you choose to do a Full install of ArcGIS 10, this will install other extensions and the VBA support, but it will take longer.  Most prudent is a Custom install of the core 10, including the Network Analyst and the VBA Developer Support.

Install Errors on Vista

We have done multiple installs on Windows 7 versions with no problems, but you may find them on Vista PCs.  When installing on a Vista PC, if you encounter a “Write Protect Error” message, copy the entire Esri BA 10 USB drive to another location and run the setup from there – another USB flash drive, a USB hard drive, or an accessible fixed hard drive on your PC or network.  You’ll need more than 28GB of space and copying the file will take 20 to 45 minutes depending on your resources.


Not much change here, just have your codes ready and run the ArcGIS (Desktop) Administrator, manually entering "Business Analyst" or "Business Analyst Premium" depending on your version under Other Extensions.  For the SDLIC, save to disk and just double click.  For the LF, save to disc and reference in Address Coder File-Options-License-Browse.

Updating 9.3 Projects

As discussed on the BA Blog, there is a new tool called Update MXDs that you can use to batch-update your old 9.3 project files, which were automatically placed in My Output Data.backup during install.  However, and this is very important, as you review the Source of layers in your old projects before backing them up, you will also want to review each project first to ensure that you have not combined your own files and layers with the “Business Analyst Data” layer.  The tool is designed to remove everything in “Business Analyst Data” and replace it with the updated version 10 layer, and it will do so along with anything else you had in that Business Analyst Data layer.  If you find you have saved layers to Business Analyst Data, just move them out, creating a New Group Layer for them if you need to, and saving the project.

If you don’t want to use one of the Update MXD tool methods, you can still do this manually – but the location of the new Layer files has moved.  To manually update an MXD, open it, review the project as above, and when you are sure that Business Analyst Data contains only BA 9.3 files and none of your own layers or analysis, right click on it in the TOC and remove it.  Then, Add File and navigate to the ArcGIS-Desktop 10.0-Business Analyst-Data folder, to add the Business Analyst - Map Layers and Business Analyst - Business Reference Layers layers to your 9.3 project, and save in 10.

VBA Error When Opening Old Projects

When opening a 9.3 project in 10, you may encounter a Warning: VBA Code Detected error.  If you do, you should be able to click through this error in the interim, but you’ll need a VBA install and license.  The install comes from the ArcGIS 10 install routine of ArcGIS Desktop VBA Resources, so go back to your ArcGIS 10 folder on the BA USB drive and install and Modify to add this if you did not install during core 10 install; the VBA license should have come with your other licenses from ESRI Customer Service.  If you don’t have one, let us know. 

Now The Fun Part

The usability and performance of BA 10 appear every bit as advertised – fast, powerful, and with more function better exposed.  For a prospect in a recent demo, a huge retail chain, we retrieved over 1,000 of their store locations nationally, set them up as Stores, ran a simple ring buffer on them, and reported an initial national Tapestry profile of their estimated primary trade areas… in just 5 minutes.  And that is just scratching the surface.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Blind to Site

In Santa Monica and Venice CA, we are losing all of our dive bars.  Legends like the Circle and the Brig have become, well, legends.  Recently, another neighborhood dive went down, a place so nondescript that it was known simply as, "The Bar".  Try looking that up on Google.  The Bar did have a real name, but no one knew it.  And the sign outside simply read, "Air Conditioned".  Which became the de facto name for the bar.  Now, upon the change of ownership, the new owners decided that, hey, since everybody knows us from the sign, let's keep it.

Another local anecdote.  The Fox Hills Mall in Culver City was dying, a victim not merely of the maladies affecting all malls, but a victim of poor marketing.  When Westerfield acquired the property a few years ago, the first thing they did was update and improve the signage so that it was clearly visible from multiple vantages on adjacent I-405.  Turns out, a lot of folks did not even know the mall was there and had passed it a thousand times.

Signage is so important, and is just one among dozens of primary site characteristics.  RPM collects primary data on these characteristics for every client store/branch/office, and we also "train the trainer" so that large organizations can collect their own site data.  Once assembled, and used within the broader GIS in the context of location and business performance data, we can quantitatvely determine what contributes to making a great site, and use this information to optimize current and future sites.

At the ESRI UC in 2009, I pointed out during the Retail SIG meeting that site and location are two diffferent things, and that most of us seem to be analyzing location at the expense of site.  Eyes glazed over.  Site and location, aren't those the same thing?

No, they aren't.  In GIS terms, a site is a point, and a location is a region.  A site is the actual physical footprint, and has a number of associated attributes - age, signage, accessibility and much, much more.  A location refers to the broader context of a site, its neighborhood, its trade area, its ZIP, its City, etc. and there are another set of attributes associated with them - population, daytime population, housing, competition.

Next, we'll take a look at how RPM collects site data in the field, and integrates it into the GIS on the fly.  Something you'll have a real hard time doing with an IPhone.