Taking a Different Route
A new proprietary program puts STDBonline on the map.
When STDBonline began searching for a new online mapping
solution, the company set out to find a map-centric platform with user-friendly
tools to replace the existing, outdated system. Previous solutions had not
allowed users to navigate via maps. Instead, they had to use text boxes and a
more complex interface. This process was not intuitive and made multiple steps
necessary. It was easy to end up with the wrong results and get frustrated with
the process. To improve upon this, add to STDB's current suite of options, and
enhance CCIMs' access to geographic information system technology, STDB
enlisted ESRI, a Redlands, Calif.-based GIS provider. ESRI offers all the
software and online data content CCIMs need to create, visualize, manage, and
analyze local information easier and more clearly.
ESRI and STDB combined their expertise and knowledge to
create a unique product tailored to the workflow and needs of the CCIM
community. Working together, the two companies have created faster access to
the critical information CCIM members want and need.
Time for Change
STDB's previous system for the last seven years was an
open-source product, meaning that the software could be altered by any user and
there were no restrictions to prevent free use and distribution. This led to
concerns about enhancements and support. Because STDB strives to maintain the
best and most current mapping solutions, continued use of an open-source system
was considered too risky for the future of STDBonline.
ESRI replaced STDB's open-source product with a
proprietary system that it continually updates. In addition, ESRI develops its
own core products and Web services, adding innovative features that meet the
latest industry standards. Since ESRI is the world's largest commercial GIS
vendor, CCIMs can be confident that the software will stay current and be
regularly updated with the newest online mapping developments and ongoing
enhancements, without the cost, management overhead, or risks of maintaining
the systems in-house.
A New System
STDB selected ESRI's Business Analyst Online to replace a
range of older systems and provide a single point of access for the new online
mapping program. BAO contains extensive backdrop data, aerial photographs, and
flood maps, as well as demographic, consumer, and business information. Market
analysis templates for multifamily, retail, office, and industrial properties
also are included.
ESRI supplies high-quality, timely, and reliable data and
allows direct access to data and content derived from dozens of commercial
providers. ESRI hosts and manages the system, maintains terabytes of geographic
content, and reserves capacity and access via redundant co-location facilities
across the U.S.
While it would be cost-prohibitive for STDB to build a system such as this,
ESRI has the infrastructure in place. In addition, STDB is freed up to focus on
its core competencies. For example, BAO was built and launched without STDB
having to install or maintain additional mapping software, data, or hardware.
This gave STDB increased flexibility to innovate and deliver the new version of
STDBonline, while emphasizing an intuitive system interface, streamlined workflow,
and improved content.
STDB users do not need browser plug-ins or additional
licensing. Development is already underway for additional mapping advancements,
which will enhance the user experience and feature high-quality maps with added
Mapping It Out
The new STDB also gives users instant access to the
information they need to analyze market potential and perform site selection.
CCIMs can access maps by looking up a particular address or selecting an
individual site using interactive navigation tools. Once an area of interest
has been selected, the user can develop a property profile for a particular
project, compare the characteristics of several potential development sites, or
learn more about the market specifics. Users can access more than 150
additional reports and dedicated services that are designed to help them
successfully develop their commercial projects.
"Working with a mapping environment makes it easy
for me to understand how to accomplish things quickly and easily. With only
moderate computer skills I can get quick results I can rely on. It's like
having an entire research department in my office without costing me,"
says Karl Landreneau, CCIM, associate with Re/Max First Commercial in Baton Rouge, La.
The new STDB site analysis functions include several
methods for defining and analyzing market areas around a particular site. Users
may select a state, county, or zip code, define multiple rings of influence
around a certain point or address, calculate travel times based on the road
network, or interactively draw a custom area directly on the onscreen map.
Users can fine-tune and preview their selections at any time. The system allows
users to generate detailed reports to ensure that they have optimized their
selection and will gain the greatest insight into the potential of their
STDB users also can create a customized package of
reports, maps, and charts or opt to use an express package of the most popular
demographic reports, maps, and market analysis for their selected site. Reports
can be sent to a predefined e-mail address, delivered to a user's desktop, or
stored on the server for subsequent download. Multiple reports can be stored
for each project and because users have full control of how projects are
created and the reports they contain, STDB can be quickly configured to reflect
a CCIM's specific workload and activities.
Implementation and Future Development
The new STDB benefits from access to ESRI's library of
Web services that has been used to provide successful commercial solutions to
thousands of users for the past four years.
"I love the ability [that the new STDB gives me] to
obtain better and more current data. And, it is packaged in a much easier and
more efficient fashion using state-of-the-art map-centric methods," says
Donald S. Huddleston, CCIM, of Village Square Realty in Spokane, Wash.
Exciting and innovative plans already are in the works
for future versions of STDB. The close working relationship between STDB and
ESRI gives CCIMs access to other ESRI GIS tools through STDB. In addition, new
education and training resources are being developed to expand the
understanding and use of GIS among CCIMs. STDB's online portal is an ideal way
to pass on some of the benefits and value of GIS to CCIMs.
ESRI provides extensive support for the system including
a dedicated support line and contact services for both technical support and
sales support. In addition, the service is multi-redundant. ESRI has service
level agreements in place to deliver performance and support and has hundreds
of professional, full-time personnel who can back up services.
The new STDB will help CCIM members to grow, profit, and
succeed through the use of online mapping services. A rewarding future beckons
for all those involved with the new STDB.