Spatial analysis often begins by visually exploring a map to find patterns, assess trends, and compare locations. In this exercise, you’ll discover the power of spatial data exploration as you assume the role of a travel agency chain co-owner. In this scenario, you and your business partners want to expand your business to include luxury travel tours and need to decide which agency location is your best option for a first launch. To help you make this decision, you’ll find a public web map in Living Atlas of the World and visually analyze it to assess and compare the agency location options. As you work through the steps in this exercise, you’ll use the following skills: opening a map from Living Atlas, exploring the map using bookmarks and pop-ups, and using predominance smart mapping to compare the viability of different locations based on the predominant target market. This exercise is designed for beginners. Estimated time: 15 minutes.
You're a co-owner of a small chain of travel agencies, with locations in the Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Chicago areas. You and your business partners are interested in expanding your travel services this year to include luxury travel tours, and preliminary Internet research has convinced you that the baby boomer generation—people between the ages of 52 and 70—is your most promising target market. Although this generation is often overlooked by marketers, some interesting statistics indicate that the high discretionary income, growing spending power, and vast numbers of baby boomers make them the most desirable market for luxury products and services.
Your partners agree that expanding the business to include luxury travel services is sure to increase profits, and baby boomers seem to be the perfect group to target. Being conservative in business, they want to start small—choose one travel agency and launch the new services there first. But which agency location—Los Angeles, Washington D.C., or Chicago—is the best option? On a friend's recommendation, you decide to search Esri's gallery of featured maps hoping to finding one that contains the demographic information you need to answer this question. After a couple of minutes of searching, you are fortunate to discover a great, publicly available web map in Living Atlas that contains data about generations including baby boomers, your target market. Using Map Viewer, you'll see how to analyze the map visually and use tools such as bookmarks and pop-ups to find the best location for the launch of the new services.
Open the Living Atlas map
Start by opening the map you found in Living Atlas.
- Go to Living Atlas of the World and in the search box, type Baby Boomers. Open the thumbnail for U.S. Generations by Congressional District, scroll down the page, and click Open in Map Viewer.
Examine the map and legend
The map highlights the predominant generation in each Unites States congressional district in 2016. The predominant generation in a district is the generation that has the highest population compared to the other generations in the district.
- Take a minute to look at the legend.
- Now look at the map again.
At this zoom level, you only see yellow districts and blue districts. It appears that millennials (in yellow) are the predominant generation in most districts, with baby boomers (in blue) being the predominant generation in fewer, but still a notable number of, districts.
Notice the different shades (or levels of transparency) of blue and yellow in the map. The transparency of the color is related to the degree of predominance in a particular district. For example, a light (or more transparent) blue district indicates that baby boomers have the highest population in that district but that this generation's population is not significantly higher than the next highest population in the district.
Use bookmarks and pop-ups
You want to launch your new luxury travel services in a city that has a high predominance of baby boomers. Your company has agency locations in the Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Chicago areas. To help you decide which one would be best for launching the new services to baby boomers, you'll explore the map using bookmarks and pop-ups.
- Click Bookmarks and select Los Angeles, CA.
- Zoom in one level to see the label for Los Angeles on the map. Click some of the districts just inland from Redondo Beach until you find District 43. Take some time to review the pop-up information for District 43. Hover over the longest bar in the bar chart and note the millennial population. Do the same with the second bar representing baby boomers
- Click on other nearby districts to view their pop-ups.
- Click Bookmarks and select Chicago, IL.
- Click District 6 to see its pop-up. Hover over the baby boomers bar and then the millennials bar in the bar chart and note the population of each generation.
- Click the pop-up for District 3.
- Click some of the other districts around District 3.
- Click Bookmarks and select Washington, DC.
- Click the blue district, Virginia District 5, just south of the purple district, to display its pop-up. Hover over the second bar in the bar chart to see the population of baby boomers.
- Click some of the other blue baby boomer-dominated districts, and note the baby boomer populations in those districts.
The map zooms to the area surrounding Los Angeles. You can see that millennials are the predominant generation in all the districts in this area.
Your Los Angeles-based travel agency is located near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in District 43 so you'll examine that district more closely.
You'll note a similar pattern of strong predominance of millennials over baby boomers and other generations.
With the predominance of millennials over baby boomers and the relatively low population of baby boomers in District 43 and other nearby districts, the Los Angeles agency doesn't appear to be a suitable location to launch your luxury travel services.
Next, you'll see whether Chicago is any more suitable.
The population of baby boomers is about 185,000 but millennials are not far behind, with a population of about 176,000.
Your travel agency is located in District 3, which is adjacent to the lower right corner of the blue District 6. District 3 is one of the yellow millennial-dominated districts, but you are curious to see the population of baby boomers in that district.
You'll notice similar or lower populations of baby boomers in those areas, with even smaller numbers as you investigate districts closer to the city center
Your third agency is located in Washington, D.C. Maybe it's a better location for launching services to baby boomers.
After only 15 minutes of work, you've found a publicly available web map in Living Atlas, visually analyzed it using tools in Map Viewer, and answered an important business question based on your exploration. What's next?
Explore ArcGIS Online on your own and discover what else is possible. A few ideas are as follows:
- Take a related quick exercise to learn how to create an app from the map and use it to record your impressions and recommendations and share them with your business partners.
- Find other publicly available maps in Living Atlas and use them to solve spatial problems.
- Learn more about spatial data exploration and analysis using the following resources: Get started with analysis, Quick exercise: Solve a spatial problem, and Analyzing violent crime.
- Learn more about predominance mapping and other smart mapping styles in ArcGIS Online.