Location Intelligence for Business

GEOG 497B Location Intelligence for Business


Quick Facts about GEOG 497B

  • Instructor: Dr. Dennis Bellafiore,
  • Course Structure: Online, 10+ hours a week for 10 weeks, 3 credits
  • Overview: GEOG 497B is an elective course for Penn State's Online Certificate in GIS, Certificate in Geospatial Intelligence, and Master of GIS. However, World Campus students not enrolled in the aforementioned programs are also eligible to take this course. If you're interested in taking just this course, contact the instructor for more information.

Course Overview

We chose the title, "Location Intelligence for Business" for this course in lieu of "Business GIS" or "Business Geography" with reason. The original authors: Dr. Dennis Bellafiore, Senior Lecturer Penn State Geospatial Intelligence; Joe Francica, Managing Director Geospatial Industry Solutions Pitney Bowes Software; and Wes Stroh, former Executive Editor & Associate Publisher Directions Magazine, designed this course to fill a gap we saw in our program at Penn State and in many of our peer programs.

In business, the application of maps and mapping technology ranges from long-standing presence (commercial real estate, retail, and logistics) to nascent presence across different industries. It is clear that the momentum for commercial applications that encompass GIS, geospatial technologies, and geospatial intelligence is growing. In businesses, spatial attributes are being married to extant enterprise-wide datasets which reside in enterprise databases including Oracle, Cognos, etc. GIS and geospatial analysis are tools and methodologies which are often folded into the more mainstream information technology (IT) applications of "business intelligence" ("BI").

This course uncovers and explores the key geospatial principles involved in site selection, market analysis, risk and crisis management, and logistics, delving briefly into the steps of solving those problems with available geospatial tools and data. This provides a foundation for geospatial thinking in commercial settings and a base for subsequent training in specific application suites such as Esri Business Analyst, Carto, or others. We believe the use of geospatial thinking with geospatial technologies is gaining wider acceptance in business applications and commercial settings for competitive advantage.

What will be expected of you?

If you are a current student in one of Penn State's online geospatial programs, this course will likely be different from any in the online geospatial certificate or master's programs at Penn State. The course is designed to feel a bit more like a seminar, albeit with an introductory tone. We will have weekly readings and 1-2 class "discussions" per week using Canvas. These discussions will take place in web-based discussion forums where you type posts and read responses. Depending upon the class size, we may break into teams and hold teleconferences in a more intimate setting. The Canvas discussions will take place asynchronously, so you do not have to log in at a prescribed time--more about that during orientation. During most weeks, you will complete one or more "hands on" activities relating to the concepts discussed, and there may be a brief quiz (multiple choice or short essay).

In addition, you will work in teams to tackle a case study during the latter half of the course. First, with instructor assistance, teams will identify a problem to solve, after which they will present their initial thoughts in a mid-term presentation (no more than 5 minutes with 4-5 slides) using Zoom. The project will culminate with the submission of a team final paper (executive summary, data, and methodology). The final paper is intended to be brief, with students focusing on what methodologies and data they would hypothetically use to solve the problem. Students will have an opportunity for self-reflection on what they learned in the process and will complete a peer review on the project as well. (In special cases, students will have the opportunity to work independently on the term project, with instructor approval.)

While we have provided an outline of the course, with specific readings and content to cover, the course may vary from term to term, depending upon the experiences and interests of that term's cohort.

World Campus Structure

This course is being offered to students around the globe through Penn State's World Campus. It is a "paced" course, which means that there are established start and end dates for participation with the course material. You will interact with other students throughout the course. The course consists of 10 week-long lessons.

There is a optional "Orientation Week" preceding the start of the course. It is intended for students outside the Geospatial Education Certificate or MGIS Programs or for those who have not taken GEOG 482 (and 483/484). The Orientation section, found in Canvas, provides some background reading and primers on basic geospatial terms and principles. The selection includes a historical account of the evolution of geospatial thinking up to the modern era, and a current account of key geospatial technologies, including: GPS, Satellite/Airborne Remote Sensing, Mapping, GIS and Data Integration, and Geospatial Data Infrastructure. If you choose to read these primers, and your background is not in geospatial thinking and technologies, please skim and focus only on the broad themes. The idea is for you to become familiar with key terms and concepts, not complete a "boot camp."

On average, most students spend ten to twelve hours per week working on the course material and assignments. This course is a graduate seminar style course, which means much of the focus will be on discussion and reflection on readings and activities. Rather than a series of correct answers and specific skills, we hope you will engage with broad concepts and derive meaning for your own work or skill set.

The World Campus is no different from a traditional college class: how much and how well you learn is ultimately up to you. You will succeed if you are diligent about keeping up with the class schedule and if you take advantage of opportunities to communicate with your fellow students.

Course Objectives

At the successful completion of this course, you should be able to:

  • identify and discuss common business activities and the geographic concepts and technologies involved in addressing them;
  • describe examples of Location Intelligence (LI) applications used in business;
  • identify types of geographical data available and how spatial and aspatial data can be integrated;
  • understand how LI applications are used in the not-for-profit and government sectors;
  • demonstrate professional communication skills through written and spoken presentation of case study findings.

Registered students

If this is your first visit to this course website, please take some time to become familiar with the assignments and course environment by going to the Course Orientation (on the navigation bar above).

This website provides the primary instructional materials for the course. The Resources menu links to important supporting materials, while the Lessons menu links to the course Lessons. Canvas, Penn State's course management system, is used to support the delivery of this course as well as providing the communications, assignment submission tools, and readings for the course.

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Students who register for this Penn State course gain access to assignments and instructor feedback, and earn academic credit. Information about Penn State's Online Geospatial Education programs is available at the Geospatial Education Program Office.