Chris Hubbard

@chriswhubbard Market Strategy

September 18, 2014

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5 Magical Mapping Tools You Need Now!

Ok, it's not exactly magic but you'll be pretty amazed anyways.

MappingTools

Nearly 70 percent of all business data contains a location component, which means the use of maps and new digital mapping tools is becoming more and more important for businesses of all sizes. Here’s a list of five mapping tools that can make your job easier.

1 - Planiglobe - This simple online mapping tool allows users to create custom maps that can be download in a variety of formats including post-script, illustrator, and print ready versions.  It’s a simple but useful tool. For example, if you needed to quickly create a few maps for a presentation or wanted to create a customized map that could then be printed out for personal reference, then this is the perfect tool. The only downside is that the site isn’t very user friendly, as it can be difficult to navigate and understand. Graphics quality of downloaded maps is nothing spectacular, but they are editable in graphics programs like illustrator.

2 - ClusterMaps - This site allows you to see who’s visiting your website represented by small red dots on a map. Imagine you are an apparel retailer who is trying to figure out where your main customers are coming from. You could use this tool to at least identity where people visiting your website are coming from, which might give you a better idea of where your actual in-store visitors are coming from. It’s probably not the most accurate way to identify customers location, but as a free option it might be worth trying out.

3 - Mapbuilder - This app uses Google maps to build custom tagged maps that you can then embed into your own website. A great tool for users who need to tag a lot of locations on a map and then share them with others. This tool has a lot of useful features for anyone who is looking for something free to use as a temporary solution, but again, the site is clunky and little difficult to navigate. A large banner ad, along with a smaller square ad placed over the map is very distracting as well.

4 - ARC GIS - This is the granddaddy of professional mapping tools. Created specifically with expert mappers in mind this tool can be used to help large companies perform highly sophisticated functions that would be impossible to do on any of the other basic mapping tools listed above. ARC GIS allows users to create custom maps, compile geographic data, perform spatial analysis, and manage geographical data in highly complex ways. Although this tool can do practically anything one could think of wanting to do with maps, its not something most organizations could afford, and using it could require a small team of professionals just to operate it.

5 - Kiwi - This tool is the ARC GIS for people who don’t have time to become professional mapping programmers, or for companies that need to provide teams with a intelligent mapping tool that doesn’t require additional hires to operated it or a lot of time spent on training. Although the tool is fairly easy to use, since it’s GIS-enabled, it can do many of same advanced things available on tools like ARC GIS. Kiwi can manage location and site networks, compare business data with market data over a map, visually explore new markets using color-coded grids, see how locations are performing and more. It’s not free, but at least you won’t have to worry about Ads popping up all over your map.

 

Also worth reading:
5 Of The Best TED Talks On Mapping
Creating A Digital Survey Tool For KFC
3 Things You’ll Never Find On Google Maps