Data Driven Digest for January 15: Location, Location, Location

Location intelligence is a trendy term in the business world these days. Basically, it means tracking the whereabouts of things or people, often in real time, and combining that with other information to provide relevant, useful insights.

At a consumer level, location intelligence can help with things like finding a coffeehouse open after 9 p.m. or figuring out whether driving via the freeway or city streets will be faster. At a business level, it can help with decisions like where to build a new store branch that doesn’t cannibalize existing customers, or laying out the most efficient delivery truck routes.

Location intelligence is particularly on our mind now because OpenText was recently honored by Dresner Advisory Services, a leading analyst firm in the field of business intelligence, with its first-ever Technical Innovation Awards.

Dresner recognized our achievements in three areas: Location Intelligence, Internet of Things, and Embedded BI. You’ll be hearing more about these awards later. In the meantime, we’re sharing some great data visualizations based on location intelligence.  As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions.  Enjoy!

Take the A Train

In cities all over North America, people waiting at bus, train, or trolley stops who are looking at their smartphones aren’t just killing time – they’re finding out exactly when their ride is due to arrive.

Screenshot of Honolulu’s “TheBus” lines from Junebot’s HNL Next Bus app

One of the most popular use cases for location intelligence is real-time transit updates. Scores of transit agencies, from New York and Toronto to Honolulu, have begun tracking the whereabouts of the vehicles in their fleets, and sharing that information in live maps. One of the latest additions is the St. Charles Streetcar line of the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (NORTA) — actually the oldest continuously operating street railway in the world! (It was created in 1835 as a passenger railway between downtown New Orleans and the Carrollton neighborhood, according to the NORTA Web site.)

Screenshot from

This is not only a boon to passengers, the location data can also help transit planners figure out where buses are bunching up or falling behind, and adjust schedules accordingly.

On the Street Where You Live

Crowdsourcing is a popular way to enhance location intelligence. The New York Times offers a great example with this interactive feature describing writers’ and artists’ favorite walks around New York City.

You can not only explore the map and associated stories, you can add your own – like this account of a proposal on the Manhattan Bridge.

Walking New York app in the New York Times Sunday Magazine
Courtesy of the New York Times

Shelter from the Storm

The City of Los Angeles is using location intelligence in a particularly timely way: An interactive map of resources to help residents cope with winter rainstorms (which are expected to be especially bad this year, due to the El Niño weather phenomenon).

The city has created a Google Map, embedded in the site, that shows rainfall severity and any related power outages or flooded streets, along with where residents can find sandbags, hardware stores, or shelter from severe weather, among other things.  It’s accessible via both desktop and smartphones, so users can get directions while they’re driving.

El Nino Map
Published by the City of Los Angeles

(Speaking of directions while driving in the rain, L.A. musician and artist Brad Walsh captured some brilliant footage of an apparently self-driving wheeled trashcan in the Mt. Washington neighborhood. We’re sure it’ll get its own Twitter account any day now.)

We share our favorite data-driven observations and visualizations every week here. What topics would you like to read about?  Please leave suggestions and questions in the comment area below.

Recent Data Driven Digests:

January 5: Life and Expectations

December 22: The Passage of Time in Sun, Stone, and Stars

December 18: The Data Awakens


Stannie Holt

Stannie Holt is a Marketing Content Writer at OpenText. She has over 20 years' experience as a journalist, market research analyst, and content marketing expert in the fields of enterprise business software, machine learning, e-discovery, and analytics.

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