GEOG 850
Location Intelligence for Business

1.4 Location Intelligence


Throughout the course, I encourage you to note examples of geospatial, intelligence, and business principles in the development of location intelligence. Businesses leverage spatial patterns and relationships in data to improve their operations and marketing. Business leaders also have a responsibility to optimize the spending or costs of research, operations, marketing, sales, and distribution. Analysis results and assessments from Location Intelligence provide advantages relating to business costs, return on investment, and profits.

Creating an Advantage

Businesses depend on creating an advantage for their organization or disadvantaging the competition. Location intelligence produces insights for a business to optimize their performance, leveraging advantages of geography with their product or service. Enterprise-wide databases now link geospatial attributes to assets, product features, operational tables, and customer relationship management (CRM) data. The next steps for integrating mapping services with key functions include web GIS, APIs and SDKs, multiple mapping visualizations (2D, 3D, webmap), dashboards, connected sensor data collection, IoT with real-time services, field data collection for asset management, and interior space mapping.

Location intelligence is not a formal discipline, nor universally defined or presented. It is also not a new concept since it is estimated that 80% of all data may have a location component. A key point to understand is Intelligence is not collected; it is produced after collected data or information is evaluated and analyzed. There is growing momentum for commercial applications in geospatial technologies, geospatial intelligence, and widely incorporating GIS into operations and databases. Beyond traditional site planning, location intelligence is now a blend of science, location data, human geography, and business information. Location-based studies begin with these elements and go on to identifying principles at work in a business problem.

We see location intelligence described or practiced in three ways:

  1. Location intelligence as a process
  2. Location intelligence as a product
  3. Location intelligence as platforms or software systems that perform geospatial analysis

Location Intelligence has applications in many disciplines and is generally considered to consist of five fundamental components:

  1. clearly stating a location-based analytic question
  2. data management, georeferencing, web mapping of key information
  3. geospatial analysis for patterns or significant factors
  4. visualization, presenting, reporting for decision making
  5. integration into the organization’s strategy and operations

Location Intelligence provides insights for businesses on markets, consumers, product adoption, relative location information, and customer needs, behaviors, interactions. Analysis is performed to identify and understand patterns; not solely to provide use cases to support planned courses of action.

Using location intelligence gives a business a decision advantage to achieve business objectives; results of the geospatial analysis provide insights for the business to organize, operate, and/or perform better than their competitors. Understanding and applying a scientific method of study or workflow of analysis is foundational to examining geospatial data for patterns, solving complex problems, and anticipating threats.

Location Intelligence Workflow

Fundamental to GEOG 850, the process of location intelligence is a problem solving and discovery process. You will apply a conceptual model or workflow to develop Location Intelligence for each activity and your term project. Your ability to communicate results, recommendations, or decisions is as important as your skills in research and analysis. For each deliverable, apply effort to provide effective visualization and presentation of your discoveries.

Consider the elements of this location intelligence workflow:

  1. Identify a location-based business problem or situation

  2. Restate the problem as a business question with goals and objectives (that lead to an actionable decision)

  3. Gather and enrich all relevant data: internal business information, geospatial information, open source, third-party

  4. Perform geospatial analysis to model; discover patterns and relationships

    1. Predictive analysis to anticipate outcomes

    2. Expected future behavior of consumers

    3. Prescriptive analysis to recommend courses of action

  5. Map, visualize, chart, and present for actionable decision

Location intelligence has different meanings, purpose, and terminology. Depending on context, location intelligence is a definition, a method of geospatial analysis, a subset of business intelligence, or software application for business analysis. It is an intelligence activity, conducted confidentially to gain an advantage for the business.

A succinct definition of location intelligence must also be sufficiently broad to apply to many disciplines. The foundation lies in principles of intelligence, geography, and the discipline under investigation—in this course—business. Location intelligence is the collection and analysis of many sources of geospatial data that are transformed into strategic insights to solve a variety of business challenges.

Location Intelligence Definition

Location intelligence in business is the practice of collecting, enriching, and analyzing business information, georeferenced data, and geospatial information to discover contextual insights for location-based challenges or opportunities. The process of location intelligence is often conducted confidentially to gain a decision advantage for the organization or to disadvantage competitors. Human geography is also a factor; to recognize and appreciate relationships between human behavior and our environment.


  • Murphy, Alexander B. Geography: Why It Matters. Chapter 1 (p. 1-30). Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. 2018.

The Geography: Why it Matters reading is from the required textbook for this course.


1. Post a comment to the Lesson 1.4 Discussion Forum in Canvas, including:
  • How well does the definition of Location Intelligence describe the process for business?
  • your rationale;
  • citations of pertinent references you used.

2. Don't forget to read, and then comment on another student's definition of location intelligence.

Due Tuesday night 11:59 pm (Eastern Time)

Please refer to the Calendar in Canvas for specific time frames and due dates.