Thursday, 19 May 2011

What Is Location Intelligence Anyway?

by Steve Benner 

What is Location Intelligence anyway?

How is it different from:
Location-based Services (LBS)
Location-based whatever (LBx - you supply the "x")
Geographic Business Intelligence (GBI)
Geospatial Business Intelligence (GBI again?)
Geo-Business Intelligence (GeoBI)
Geographic Information System (GIS)
Spatial Information Management (SIM)
A simple Google search on any of these terms will likely lead to more confusion than clarity on the topic. The terms are used by a wide variety of vendors to differentiate themselves,  at least in marketecture. The list will likely grow as the popularity of mapping within BI and other business applications grows. Just playing with the words spatial, geospatial, geographic, geo-, location, location-based, business, and intelligence got me a dozen combinations that had a nice ring to them. So we still have a ways to go. There are at least five new categories waiting for some marketing genius to exploit!

The ingredients of location intelligence are debated even by those in the industry.  How confused must the BI community be about it?  Maybe they don't think about it, blissfully (dangerously?)  unaware of what it takes to deliver a LI solution?  Dots on maps is what they know and they are happy with it.  To them, this is LI,  or GBI, or GeoBI, or LBS, or ... whatever.

To help this topic along lets start with some basic ingredients that we can collectively modify and blend in our own measure to see what we can bake for a definition LI.  Here is a basic list of ingredients:
  • Standard or custom geometries such as points lines or polygons (states, my territories).
  • Information about each geometric feature (demographics for Maine, territory 3 sales).
  • Visualization of maps of the geometries and their  associated information, paper and electronic.
  • Analysis of spatial relationships, both intuitively and computerized.
  • And the most important:  a problem whose solution can be improved by blending the right amounts of the above.
I offer these as basic ingredients of location intelligence.  Just as it would be hard to bake bread without flour and yeast, it would be hard to deliver LI without these.

If you are in the LI business, share your favorite recipe!  Give us the chef's secrets about each ingredient, how to prepare it, and how to bake it all into a solution.  If you are new to LI, tell us what you're hungry for whether it's a big juicy problem or just an appetizer.  If we're successful here, we'll end up with quite a cookbook, one full of problems and recipes to solve them.

If you don't care to comment here but would like to share some thoughts or longer comments privately, send them to

We look forward to your feedback!


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