In an era of high gasoline prices that is influencing driving habits and where fallout from the mortgage lending debacle has impacted housing decisions, businesses and consumers alike are becoming more "location aware." So how does this affect the geospatial market? What data is likely to be needed by those seeking to reduce personal expenditures and alter bad driving habits?
On the consumer side, unit sales of portable navigation devices from Garmin, TomTom, Magellan and knock-off brands will see continued strength as drivers seek more efficient routes, especially during the vacation months. Supporting PND sales is likely to be data providers INRIX, TrafficCast.com and Traffic.com (a NAVTEQ company) for their traffic modeling and real-time information feeds. Supporting this effort will be services like Gasbuddy.com that finds the lowest gas prices that are closest to your location. I particularly like their "Gas Temperature Map," a thematic map of gas prices at the county level. Ok, so these were the easy applications you would likely think about.
If you are looking to move to an area that is closer to public transportation, your best bet is to go to the city’s website to find a map of transit locations. I was not able to find a source that would show you both houses for sale and proximity to public transportation but my guess is they exist. Though they did not have it, the Realtor.com website has really beefed up their map applications. Realtor.com users Microsoft Virtural Earth and they’ve done a great job of showing "heat maps" (chloropleth) of the number of available properties and the average list price in specific neighborhoods. See the example I found for the Chamblee neighborhood outside of Atlanta. But it lacks a POI for public transportation, something that would seem like a given.
Finally, I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal today about how Williams-Sonoma is curtailing catalog mailings to certain zip codes based on the high mortgage foreclosure rates and in hopes of refining their marketing to the most likely buyers. So, some former customers won’t be receiving catalogs in a move to save money based on recent demographic trends.