Editor's note: Welcome to the third installment of our 2016 monthly series, Geospatial on a Budget. Today we're going to take a look at one of the GIS software tools that comes highly recommended by a throng of our readers, so many recommendations that it earned its own moment in the spotlight!
"After 25 years in the geospatial industry, one of the things I've learned about "Geospatial on a Budget" is that first cost isn't always total cost. There are low cost entry points to GIS, but they often lack advanced features that will eventually require a change in software, which is painful," Directions Magazine(DM) reader Jim Stone told us.
I bet many of you can relate! All too often we start hobbling together free or low-cost GIS solutions and end up with a mish mash of software that still doesn't really do what we need—especially as our needs evolve over time. If you're staring down an overwhelming stack of data, wishing for a magic wand to wave and get powerful analysis and great maps in a tool that is: simple to use, grows with your needs, easy to learn and a low entry-level price; then, according to the many readers that wrote in, Maptitude's your sparkling solution.
Maptitude from Caliper costs just $695 for a single-user license, which includes a one country data package of maps and demographic data. For GIS beginners, the software couldn't be easier to use: just select the Create-a-Map Wizard™ to create "a map at any scale, from all of the countries of the world, to streets around an address, landmark, or intersection." Answer a few questions and end up with "color and pattern maps, dot-density maps, scaled-symbol maps, and maps with integrated pie or bar charts" that can be saved in a variety of formats and dropped into your presentations and handouts with little muss and fuss.
But what if you're well beyond the beginner stage, and need to crunch big data sets to perform more in-depth analysis? Maptitude still meets the challenge.
Stone added, "I've used many GIS software tools and I've never hit a wall with functionality [with Maptitude], even when doing advanced analytics and visualization... I've been using Maptitude since 1995 and it's very mature and stable. It comes bundled with a huge amount of cartography and data (including demographics) and can be used right out of the box to generate insights and visualization that will have an immediate impact on your organization.”
"Maptitude's greatest strength is the software’s ability to crunch through ‘big data’ sets, and display that spatial data in just a few steps," another DM reader, Brett Lucas, commented. "Maptitude is a great alternative to [other mapping software]. Using Maptitude, I can easily create 3-D maps, heat/hot spot mapping, Thiessen Polygons (Areas of Influence), drive-time rings, flow maps (desire lines and spider maps), territory mapping, and spatial overlays (tagging features from one layer to another), trade area/site selection and much more. I can also easily bring in shape files, imagery and terrain data from a variety of sources. Maptitude has a robust geocoder built-in, that can instantly locate data that you have stored in Excel, Google Sheets, Access or other SQL formats. Maps can be exported in a variety of formats and interacts nicely with the Microsoft Office Suite environment.".
Maptitude's website primarily focuses on its ability to wrangle customer, employee, sales, facility and territory data into new visualizations, allowing a company to:
- Know exactly where its customers are,
- See where sales are highest,
- Find hidden opportunities,
- Spot geographic patterns and trends that cannot be seen in database tables and spreadsheets,
- Answer geographic questions that impact operations
Reader Michael LaVigne of Ribbon Demographics urges first-time users to contact the company directly to find out more about what it can do for your specific projects. He told us," Maptitude is capable of many more functions that can be utilized than are immediately apparent from looking at their website."
"If you need more power, you can upgrade to TransCAD, which is a ‘superset’ of Maptitude, and everything you have learned and built can be used without change," according to Stone.
The software's user-friendly interface is also perfect for students, who often have limited time to learn their GIS software before they need to begin mapping and analyzing data — and Caliper is very supportive of student efforts.
Grant Thrall of the University of Florida shared, "Caliper has been very supportive of my and the Miller Center’s GeoSpatial initiative by providing, at no cost, current versions of Maptitude for students [to] use during the semester or year that the student is working with me. A clear benefit to those students is that when they enter the job market, they come equipped with the technology and knowledge that 21st Century employers look for that differentiate employee prospects.” Thrall has created several instructional videos on Maptitude for his students that are available on YouTube®.
Maptitude has no subscription fees and supports secure off-line data storage. Wave that magic wand and wrangle your data sets into shape!