Week of February 19, 2001
  Editor's Choice Web Pick
Good as Far as It Goes, but Is That Far Enough?
By JACK LYNESite Selection Executive Editor of Interactive Publishing

Businessinfomaps.com"The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names." -- Chinese proverb

And maps, the ancient proverb could've well added, are often the beginning of the wisdom of calling real estate assets by their right names. And of wisely positioning them in the right places.
        Similarly, Euripides could've well been talking about maps' relationship to real estate when he wrote, "A bad beginning makes a bad ending."
        The beginnings of this week's column have, of course, abundantly telegraphed our Web-site focus: maps. Specifically, the maps on businessinfomaps.com (www.businessinfomaps.com).
        Unlike the other map sites we've previously reviewed in these pages, this one isn't free. Readers, as always, should be the judge of whether what's here is what they need. And if maps aren't among your needs or interests, this won't be a site you'll find yourself surfing for kicks.
        What's online at businessinfomaps.com, though, looks pretty solid . . . as far as it goes.

14 Years of Computerized Mapping

As the domain name indicates, you'll find a lot of business information here. More to the point, the maps here have a sharp eye toward the inescapable connection between geography, demographics, and employee and customer accessibility.
        That's not a major surprise, considering the site's lineage. Businessinfomaps.com is part of Wellsboro, Pa.-based Intelligent Direction, whose suite of Web sites also includes www.censusdata.com, www.marketmaps.com, www.usbusinessinfo.com and www.zipcodemaps.com. Intelligent Direction has been in the mapping business for 20 years. An early mover, the company has spent 14 of those years in computerized images, clambering up the technology evolution tree from mainframes to PCs to the Web.
        Users can probably best get a sense of what's online here by either clicking on "industries" or "applications" hypertext links prominently featured on the site's home page.
        The industry range onsite is broad, including many sectors that, we know, are near and dear to our readers' livelihoods. The industry range spans banking; consulting/management services; government; health care/services; hotel/restaurant; insurance; law enforcement/criminal justice; logistics/vehicle management; manufacturing; media/advertising; real estate; retail; telecommunications; transportation, and utilities.

From the Mecca of Urban Sprawl,
We Test-Drive the Drive-Time Function

But likely the better way to see what's onsite is by clicking on "Applications" -- particularly since most of those applications pop up in every online industry listed. (The "Industry Overviews," we should note, are also bedeviled by some major, inexplicable word-spacing problems.)
        Applications include area-code analyses, customer plotting, dot density, CRA/HMDA compliance, drive-time analysis, market analysis, and sales territory design/analysis. Most of those terms will be familiar to map-meisters. (The possible exception being CRA/HMDA compliance, a dual acronym for the Community Reinvestment Act and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, two pieces of U.S. legislation governing the banking industry.)
        If you want to see what any of those applications look like, click on "Map Showcase." Living and writing in Atlanta -- the poster child for urban sprawl -- we were drawn like a dive-bombing moth to the drive-time analysis application. (We don't listen to books while commuting in Atlanta; we read them.)

They've Probably Got It,
But We Wish They'd Flaunt It

But we found the site's drive-time map showcase somewhat like Atlanta traffic. It's fine - as far as it goes; the problem is, it just doesn't go very far. (Unlike Atlanta traffic, we should add, businessinfomaps.com does go fast, and it's easy to navigate.)
        On the plus side, we did get a few visuals for our test-drive of the drive-time analysis application: an overview map, two zoom-shot maps and a map legend. You can click on any of them and get a larger visual.
        All of the maps look good. From what's online, however, you simply can't tell how good the maps really are. The clicked-on images are very small.
        Perhaps the larger idea here is to get users to click on the "Contact Us" link. Certainly nothing wrong with that. In fact, it's the perennial Web-site dream.
        In today's Web climate, though - where a five-second download can seem an eternity - we wonder if businessinfomaps.com should be showing a lot more. Users' attention spans and patience are going the way of the 1896 Anglo-Zanzibar War -- which lasted all of 45 minutes. In short, the site seems to fairly cry out for an online demo map.
        Judging from what's here, the folks at businessinfomaps.com have probably got it. We just wish they were a bit more inclined to flaunt it.



©2001 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. Data is from many sources and is not warranted to be accurate or current.