July 1, 2010 By Chad Vander Veen
ESRI, the Redlands, Calif.-based GIS firm, has developed an iPhone application that provides users with detailed demographic data for any given location. The app, called BAO (Business Analyst Online), will be available for free at the Apple App Store in coming days.
Originally BAO was built with commercial realtors in mind. But ESRI sources said they realized the app would be useful for government agencies' economic development initiatives, thanks to the wealth of demographic data the app can access. The company claims this data -- which was researched in-house by ESRI demographers, statisticians and economists -- sets BAO apart from other "here's the stuff around you" type of applications.
"Your typical mapping app will tell you about the streets and get directions," said James Killick, lead product manager of ESRI Business Analyst. "Maybe it will let you search for businesses. But no app will tell you about the characteristics of a neighborhood. What kinds of people live there? What do they like to do there? Are they young or old? Well off or poor? Are they college educated? Is this area similar to where I live? The BAO iPhone app will tell you all this almost instantly,"
For government employees such as caseworkers and law enforcement, the app could prove valuable by quickly and visually providing demographic data about a neighborhood or district.
While the first iteration of the app is exclusive to the iPhone, Killick said ESRI is considering porting a version to Apple's increasingly popular Android-based competitors.
"We are definitely looking into [an Android version]," he said. "We're wrapping up this initial version first, then we have a major enhancement coming in a few weeks. Beyond that, it's a toss-up between an iPad-specific version or an Android version. We've not made a final decision yet as to which we're going to focus on first."
For more information, visit ESRI Business Analyst Online.