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The article outlines the many uses of Maptitude and the history of its development with an emphasis on the latest version, Maptitude 2012. Note, this article, authored Sept. 2012 looks at Maptitude R. 2012, however, Maptitude 2013 has since been released – see http://www.caliper.com/maptitude/NewFeatures.htm
Caliper Corporation first released Maptitude in 1995 as version 3.0. The release of the software provided a mid-range GIS package at an affordable price. Affordability has been a hallmark of Maptitude since its introduction. With the release of the latest edition, Maptitude 2012, Caliper has maintained the practice of providing a high quality product at a reasonable price.
Throughout the evolution of Maptitude several strong features have been maintained, improved, and expanded. As an out-of-the-box GIS, it provides many features that must be purchased as add-on items for other software packages. The data bundle that accompanies Maptitude enhances the value of the product by making available a wide array of geographies and data the user can work with. The file handling capabilities of the software allows data to be compiled from a wide variety of sources ranging from geographic data to image files. Map wizards give even the most novice GIS user the capability of compiling well designed maps.
Maptitude can meet the needs of all level of user, from the novice, to the applied user, to power user. The software is an excellent mechanism with which novice users to compile basic maps for presentations or publications. The applied user can easily combine data from a wide variety of sources with the program’s bundled data to produce value-added products to meet the specific needs of the user. Power users can access the advanced data handling features and spatial analysis tools to solve complex geographic problems. The versatility of Maptitude makes it an excellent choice for organizations which must satisfy a wide range of needs for users at different skill levels.
Perhaps the greatest strength of Maptitude is its intuitive design. The functionality of the software makes it user friendly. Novice users, with a basic grasp of GIS concepts, can easily begin to use the program out of the box and rapidly expand their skill level. The intuitive nature of the Maptitude provides the user with a comfortable feeling while using complex software. The intuitive nature of the software has been maintained with each release of Maptitude and this is especially true of Maptitude 2012.
The author can attest to the versatility of Maptitude in his use of the software since it was first introduced into the market. He has put Maptitude through the paces in his many roles in the GIS industry, including: university professor, director of a city/county GIS, consultant, and manager of the GIS department for an environmental engineering firm. What follows is a snapshot of just a few of various projects for which the author has used Maptitude.
Small Business Applications
Small Business Development Centers, in conjunction with the Small Business Administration, are found across the country on a regional basis at university campuses. These centers assist entrepreneurs who are in the process of starting new businesses, typically service oriented. The primary need of the new entrepreneurs is assistance in developing a business plan, including a market penetration study and options for site selection, to determine the profitability of the new endeavor. Use of the information included with Maptitude’s data bundle in conjunction with other available information provided the means for determining the market feasibility and location analysis for different ventures.
The most commonly used geographic data from the Maptitude data bundle are the five-digit ZIP code areas and Census tracts. Information on the age structure, income level, and racial and ethnic makeup of the community can be overlain with specific information relative to a given project. A question such as where is the best place to locate a daycare center is a good example of the process that a Small Business Development Center uses to assist its clients. Such a project would entail overlaying the location of existing licensed childcare providers, schools, places of work, and analysis of traffic patterns with different socioeconomic data available with Maptitude to gain insight into the possible success or failure in establishing the new enterprise. This type of analysis is invaluable to a potential small business owner because it demonstrates the probability of the success of the new business or its potential for failure.
Use by Local Governments
Maptitude can be used by large or small municipal governments in a wide variety of situations ranging from assessing the needs for services to the use of fair housing practices in the community. In a recent study for the Township of Wausau, a small, rural Wisconsin community, the town board wanted to determine the need for additional services and ordinances within its jurisdiction. A survey was mailed to every household in the township asking pertinent background questions and assessing the attitudes of the residents ranging from improved ambulance service to enforcement of local ordinances for pets. The results of the survey were mapped using surveyed sections of the Public Land Survey System, available from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, as the unit of analysis. The mapped data from the survey provided the town board with a visual representation of the sentiments of the members of the community.
A large-scale study of home lending practices by banks was conducted under the auspices of the Clarkesville/Montgomery Planning Commission. The purpose of the study was to determine if lending institutions were in compliance with the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. The study was important because of the location of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in proximity to the city. A determination was to be made if unfair lending practices were being used in the lending practices of the banks with active duty military personnel. The loan records of each bank in the city were analyzed by Census tract. It was ultimately shown that the banks were in full compliance with the law.
Every community, whether large or small, needs to be able to respond to a disaster quickly. The primary use of GIS in responding to disaster is performing the damage assessment after the event has occurred. Completion of the damage assessment is a prerequisite of the release of federal relief funds.
An F4 tornado struck the City of Clarksville, Tennessee, in 1999. The tornado did severe damage to the historic downtown area, to Austin Peay State University, and to local homes and business. In total the damage from the storm exceeded seventy-three million dollars. No lives were lost due to the event.
Using Maptitude the Clarksville/Montgomery County GIS Center, in coordination with the Planning Commission, conducted a damage assessment which was completed within thirty-six hours of the tornado’s touchdown. The street map layer incorporated with Maptitude was used to locate over six hundred damaged or destroyed structures by address from information from a field survey. Over ninety-eight percent of the addresses were accurately matched. The percent of damage to each structure was determined by field surveys conducted by local property appraisers.
Use by Charitable Organizations
The United Way often acts as the umbrella organization for the distribution of funds to other charitable organizations in a community. Decisions about how limited funds are distributed are often geographic in nature. A key element in reaching funding decisions is to match providers with needs of the community. A clear understanding of the spatial distribution of providers and those in need increases the value of every charitable dollar distributed. Such a study was commissioned by the Montgomery County, Tennessee, United Way. Information gained as a result of the study improved the distribution of funds to worthy organizations.
The University of Wisconsin Colleges is a complex organization that has thirteen campuses and a thriving online program. The Colleges offer a two-year program and are the gateway for a large number of students enrolling in one of the University of
Wisconsin System’s four-year institutions. Competition to recruit students is high. The two and four year campuses of the University of Wisconsin System compete with one another as well as the for-profit institutions to entice qualified students to enroll in their respective programs.
An ongoing project at the University of Wisconsin Colleges is the monitoring of the service areas of the thirteen campuses and of the online program. Eighty-five percent of Wisconsin’s population lives within thirty miles of one the campuses. Most of the students attending the different campuses originate from ZIP code areas in close proximity to each campus. By mapping the origin of the students marketing strategies can be designed to recruit students to the various campuses.
The online program serves place-bound students who cannot attend classes at a physical campus. One of the major concerns of the Colleges is that there are several rural areas in the state that are not served by high speed Internet connections. In a current study, the location of online students by ZIP code is being compared to areas where high speed Internet service is unavailable.
Maptitude is an ideal platform to use in teaching a hands-on introductory GIS course. The author has taught numerous face-to-face classes using the program. The intuitive nature of the software permits students to easily grasp basic GIS concepts, including the use of thematic maps, map layers, map editing, searches and database manipulation. Lab modules can be easily designed to coincide with basic GIS concepts. Maptitude 2012 provides a set of online tutorials (http://www.caliper.com/training/maptitudevideotutorials.htm) that can supplement the classroom and lab experiences of students by offering several detailed examples of the program in action. A total of twenty-five tutorials are available in four categories: Maptitude Basics, Working with Maps, Data Analysis, and Spatial Analysis. The Maptitude User’s Guide is bundled with the software and is accessible while the program is operational. The User’s Guide provides clear and concise examples of the different features available in Maptitude. Each chapter has a tutorial designed to be used in sixty seconds. These tutorials are ideal for material to be introduced in face-to-face labs.
The Tradition Continues
The introduction of Maptitude 2012 continues Caliper’s tradition of offering a high quality GIS at a moderate price. The latest version of Maptitude offers several new features that enhance the overall robustness of the software and its user-friendly nature.
The Maptitude data bundle includes national coverage of 5-digit Zip code areas, Census tracts, minor civil divisions, counties, and states. All of the Census boundaries are from the 2010 Census. The data accompanying each map layer provides a wealth of information reported in the 2010 Census and the 2009 Community Survey. The data sets include information on the age distribution of the population, race and ethnicity, and income distribution. NAVTEQ layers dating from 2011 are now included with the data bundle. These layers include building footprints, highways, railroads, and landmarks. The files provide for accurate address matching and street visualization.
Routing and Network Analysis have been vastly improved with the updated Shortest Path Toolbox and Network Bands toolbox. The Shortest Path Toolbox now provides feedback on the shortest and fastest routes, nationwide routing, and printed directions in an html format. The Networks Bands Tool Box features accurate drive-time rings. Census tracts are used as the default layer in calculating the demographics for the drive-time rings. The drive-time rings use individual streets to calculate destinations that can be reached in a specified amount of time.
Geotagging is also available with Maptitude 2012. Images or videos recorded by smartphones or other devices enable with GPS. Points in a geographic file are compiled from geotagged images. The geographic file is populated with name of the image file and the geographic coordinates associated with each point.
In addition to the descriptive statistics that have been available with earlier versions of Maptitude, regression and binary logit models have been incorporated into the program. The addition of these statistical procedures adds significantly to the robustness of the software in performing statistical evaluations of the relationships between data sets.
The Create-a Map Wizard has been improved to increase its ease of use with user-defined data. The wizard makes the process of geocoding and joining tabular data significantly easier. The latest available geographic data is used in the mapping process. Improved label and style options are available.
It is this author’s opinion that Maptitude 2012 is the best available out-of-the-box GIS software today. Its functionality, versatility, and user-friendliness have been the hallmark of Caliper’s Maptitude since its original introduction and continue in the latest version of the software. Maptitude is moderately priced at $695 and is well worth the cost given the functionality and data bundle available with the software
About the Author:
Jim McCluskey, PhD, Department of Geography and Geology, University of Wisconsin Colleges
- Maptitude Overview – http://www.caliper.com/maptovu.htm
- Feature – GIS Responding to Disaster and the 1999 Clarksville, TN Tornado – Lessons Learned
- Maptitude @ NCSL Fall Forum, December 8-10, 2010, Phoenix, AZ, USA
- The most exciting features of Maptitude 2013 are showcased at http://www.caliper.com/maptitude/NewFeatures.htm#, while a complete description of the many improvements is available as a PDF http://www.caliper.com/PDFs/Maptitude-2013-New-Features.pdf