Higher Education

Location Analytics Expands at Arizona State University

The location analytics program at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University (ASU) is about to expand, now that it has been tested through its masters’ program in information systems management.

In spring 2021, Dr. Asish Satpathy offered a short course on location analytics for business executives; the course consisted of two weekends for one unit of credit. Due to the surge in demand, he offered an expanded version of the course in spring 2022 that spanned four weekends for two units of credit. This course, entitled Location Analytics for Business Executives, explores the use of location data for business applications, introducing spatial data analysis as it applies to retail, insurance, marketing, real estate, and other areas of business. The course offers students an opportunity to gain hands-on experience with functionalities such as location analytics and visualization, using industry-standard business mapping software including ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Business Analyst Web App, and ArcGIS Insights.

The new course addresses the overarching objectives of the school, such as embracing the innovative curriculum at W. P. Carey School of Business, leading a new movement for skill enhancements in course offerings, and advancing ASU’s aspiration of transcending academic disciplines through interdisciplinary collaboration.

The course objectives state that students will be able to do the following:

Dr. Asish Satpathy discusses location analytics with students.

The course fits in perfectly with the students’ learning goals: critical thinking, communication, discipline-specific knowledge, ethical awareness and reasoning, and global awareness. Critical thinking is built around the recognition of the value of location data in relation to business goals and the best ways in which we can manipulate and transform this information to achieve those goals. Communication is inherent to the processes of interpreting location-based information and producing location-based visualizations to enhance decision-making. The specific knowledge of location analytics provides a whole new context in business intelligence that is simply not possible with tables and charts. Ethical awareness is required to use these skills and knowledge for the achievement of business goals respecting the fairness, inclusion, and social wellness principles ASU students abide by. Finally, the class materials used are thought to ensure exposure to diverse data from different contexts that promote global awareness among students.

The course contents include an introduction to GIS; discussion and work with coordinate systems and projections; a software introduction; characteristics of spatial data (vector and raster); geodatabase and table operations; principles of data visualization with maps; decision-making with spatial data; location data visualization; project introductions; and topics relating to marketing (customer analysis, business opportunity analysis, and product mix strategy), health care (the need for services), and the supply chain (route optimization). During the final class segment, students are asked to research and present an issue or problem by using location analytics.

Arizona State University students work through a location analytics activity.

Students have had very positive reactions to this course. Students’ comments included statements such as this: “This course opened up understanding the power of analytics through spatial data, its applications, and the kind of job opportunities that exist. It totally changed my perspective about location data.” In fact, during spring 2021, most of the 31 students who completed this course stated that they wanted to learn more about location analytics.

Learn more about location analytics in business education with these resources for teaching and research.

About the author

Joseph Kerski is a geographer with a focus on the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in education. Joseph gave a TED Talk on “The Whys of Where”. He holds 3 degrees in geography and has served as geographer in 4 sectors of society, including government (21 years at NOAA, US Census Bureau, USGS), academia (Penn State, Sinte Gleska University, University of Denver, others), private industry (as Education Manager for Esri for 14 years), and nonprofit organizations (as President of the National Council for Geographic Education, and others). Joseph authored over 75 chapters and articles on GIS, education, and related topics, and visits 30 universities annually. He conducts professional development for educators, writes curricular resources, and speaks in international venues. He has created 5,000 videos, 750 lessons, 1,000 blog essays, a monthly podcast, and authored 8 books, including Spatial Thinking in Environmental Contexts, Interpreting Our World, Essentials of the Environment, Spatial Mathematics, Tribal GIS, International Perspectives on Teaching and Learning, and the GIS Guide to Public Domain Data. He writes for columns such as GeoInspirations for Directions Magazine, Esri GeoNet, and Spatial Reserves. But as a lifelong learner, he feels as though he’s just getting started and thus actively seeks mentors, partnerships, and collaborators.

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