SpatialKey, visual thinking, and insurance

Posted on October 22, 2010 by admin


I recently came across an interesting video about journalism in the age of data that ties directly back to why we think SpatialKey is a game-changing tool.

Did you know that half of our brain is hard wired for vision? Well what wakes the SpatialKey team up at night is that we want to create an application that leverages this crucial sense to its fullest potential. Human beings are visual thinkers, yet how come, in the business world, do we need to make so many critical decisions based on data that is presented in flat/non visual ways?

Our premise is that just because business decision makers have massive amounts of data doesn’t mean they can easily access its essential truths- truths that can reveal critical threats or opportunities that make/brake businesses. We need to see data represented in visual ways to quickly recognize patterns and understand complex events. Seeing that data visually allows us to ask better questions, get better feedback from others and ultimately get to the truths that give us the upper hand in decision making.

As a basic example: which format allows you to understand patterns better.


Or this?

The answer is simple.

Spatialkey location intelligence software transforms static/flat row-and-column data into rich maps, reports, and visually interactive analytics that instantly reveal the truths business decision makers need. But instead of having to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars and months on implementation, SpatialKey is a cost effective and easy to use SaaS.

An audience that has recently discovered the business benefits of SpatialKey is the insurance industry. SpatialKey enables insurance analysts, underwriters, and brokers to finally use their wealth of geographical information to its fullest potential.

They can now bring together and visualize data about policies, claims, weather, terrain, geographical boundaries, and demographics. They can understand historical trends, current risks, and future opportunities in a more visual and interactive format. And ultimately, they are using the truths they discover to make decisions that maximize their bottom-line profitability.

For more information or to request a free trial- please contact us.

Posted in Mapping, examples, Insurance, Visualization, solutions | Leave a reply

SpatialKey and Insurance Data Mapping and Analysis

Posted on September 27, 2010 by admin


The insurance industry has long relied on location intelligence to assess and manage regional exposure to risk. But until recently, the geospatial analysis technologies available to help to extract this intelligence have been less than ideal. They’ve had high price tags, and their deployment, management, and use have required the help of dedicated data specialists. They’ve also taken a long time to process data.


SpatialKey changes all of that. Designed for hands-on use by the decision makers in your organization, the SaaS application breaks through barriers by giving insurers quick, easy-to-use data mapping and analysis capabilities—no programming or specialists required. Since there is no software to install or maintain, SpatialKey deploys instantly and can be used for a fraction of the cost of traditional GIS and location intelligence systems. And it complements the systems you already have in place.

With SpatialKey, you can bring in data from many sources and instantly visualize it on a map. Then you can analyze and report on your data on the fly to better understand patterns and correlations between policies, perils, demographics, and other factors. Ultimately, you’ll make decisions about capital management, underwriting, pricing, sales, and marketing that immediately benefit the bottom line.


Available either out-of-the-box or customized to meet your company’s specific needs, SpatialKey helps you realize the full potential of your insurance data without substantial system investment.

Use Cases:

* Manage risk exposure: In order to remain profitable and comply with government regulations, you’re constantly managing and monitoring risk exposure. SpatialKey provides highly interactive analysis of geographic data, allowing you to properly assess reinsurance protection needs.

* Catastrophic and large-scale event management: SpatialKey enables you to better assess and respond to large claim events such as floods and hurricanes. For example, import hurricane path data to assess probabilistic loss estimates. See how the event will affect local portfolio-holding exposure, and manage response resources accordingly.

* Maximize sales and marketing opportunities: By providing deeper insight into local demographic and policy characteristics, SpatialKey helps you develop more targeted marketing campaigns that deliver higher returns than traditional, blanket campaigns.

For more information or to start a new trial, please contact us

Posted in data import, Mapping, examples, Insurance, Visualization, solutions | Leave a reply

Where 2.0 and Crisis Mapping

Posted on March 29, 2010 by admin


Our own Doug McCune, SpatialKey engineer extraordinaire, will be presenting a session about Crisis Mapping at Where 2.0 in San Jose this Thursday, April 1st. If you are attending the event, please come to Ballroom III at 4:50pm.

Analyzing conflicts via maps is not new. For centuries generals and politicians have moved pushpins on maps to help guide troop movements, understand enemy positions, or help avert conflict altogether. What's new to conflict and crisis mapping are the tools now allowing military, politicians, and humanitarian groups better understand what drives political instability and violent conflict, and better address it.

One of the more rewarding uses of SpatialKey has been driven by a team led by Dr Clionadh Raleigh. Dr Raleigh and team members from the PRIO Center for the Study of Civil War created the ACLED (Armed Conflict Location and Event Data) database. The ACLED project team's objective was to provide a better read of conflicts by understanding the relationships between combatants, social groups, economies, and even natural phenomena such as droughts or floods. Ultimately their goal is to achieve a more stable, just, and peaceful world.

Thanks in part to funding from the World Bank, ACLED provides up-to-date, immediately accessible analytics and maps for over 50 countries in the developing world to help academics, the World Bank, NGOs, aid agencies and more gain insights on civil war dynamics. The database includes for example the date and location of conflict events, event types, rebel and other groups involved, as well as specifics on battles, killings, riots, and recruitment activities by rebels, governments, militias, armed groups, protesters and civilians, and much more.

The difficulty of creating a central database for crisis mapping is that it needs to bring together vast amounts of diverse information coming from a wide variety of sources. In technical terms: a data mess. Since neither Dr Raleigh nor the users of the ACLED database are trained GIS (Geographic Information System) professionals, they decided to use SpatialKey to centralize and analyze the data. SpatialKey is web-based and does not require special training or programming. All users need is an internet connection to immediately create highly visual maps and reports.

The benefit of using SpatialKey is that each agency using ACLED data can now create maps to help answer totally different questions, no data specialists required. Some groups need to better understand how to mitigate conflict in a specific area, others want to find the safest zone to place a refugee camp, and yet others want to understand the impact of possible floods and droughts on a conflict so they can arrange their resources accordingly.

This has allowed researchers to analyze data with more precision, as well as create a more collaborative environment to help the researcher community create predictive models of civil war. It has also helped challenge assumptions. For example Dr Raleigh says that many people considered civil wars to be primarily rural events, but SpatialKey has showed that these conflicts tend to happen close to larger cities, as rebel groups attempt to engage with the military. She considers that the combination of ACLED and SpatialKey goes a long way toward advancing the field- it provides the next generation in conflict analysis and crisis mapping.

If you cannot attend Doug's session, please read our case study on the use of SpatialKey by ACLED.

For more information on SpatialKey, or to start your free trial, please go to

Posted in data import, Mapping, examples, Visualization, solutions, crisis mapping | Leave a reply

We make it and use it too

Posted on March 26, 2010 by admin


Tom Link, Universal Mind CTO, presented the company's "state of the business" at a recent internal meeting. And of course, as SpatialKey's General Manager, he used SpatialKey to more visually highlight sales activities and trends, as well as answer employee questions on the fly.

SpatialKey as a visual dashboard is a great example to highlight since it's commonly used by our clients- but since our clients don't really want to share their company data with the world for us to use in demos, we thought we'd use ours! Of course, we changed employee names and client revenues for this video since we don't want to reveal our secrets either.

As a background, Universal Mind, SpatialKey's parent company, is a leader in the field of Rich Internet Applications (RIA) development using next generation Web 2.0 technologies. The company is comprised of employees, as well as a network of consultants, all spread throughout the US. Clients include companies as diverse as Adobe, Cisco, Behr, CVS, Ben&Jerry's, Visa, Children's Hospital Boston, Verizon and many more. Dispersed teams often don't get the big picture of how their work fits within the broader company or how they are performing compared to others. For Universal Mind, SpatialKey has helped bridge that gap.

Tom's presentation focused on sales activities and sales performance. How did we do last year? How did we grow geographically? Which clients generated the most aggregated revenue? What trends do we see for the year ahead? Are there any location trends we should capitalize on? Who were our top performing sales reps? Is there a correlation between the location of our reps and the success of our sales activities? Which consultants generated the most billable hours? Where are they located? What revenue did they generate across clients?

See the video above for a small example of the many visualizations and analysis capabilities SpatialKey offers for sales data. Notice how quickly Tom gets answers to any question he asks about the companies' sales activities. Universal Mind uses Salesforce to track and manage its sales pipeline, so the data you see highlighted comes from a direct import from Salesforce, but any CSV-type data would work just as well.

If you are interested in finding out more or need help setting up your free trial, do not hesitate to contact us.

Posted in Dashboard, Sales mapping, examples, Visualization, Sales intelligence, Sales & Marketing, solutions, Data visualization | Leave a reply

Visual mapping and analysis for "regular" business users?

Posted on February 1, 2010 by admin


We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words. Images from Tiananmen Square, September 11th, or the recent devastation in Haiti are universally understood and move people to action more than words ever could. Visualizing vs. reading about events is becoming more and more prevalent, with an increasing number of people receiving their information from the web or cell phone. In parallel with the upsurge in use of images and multimedia content to communicate information, the advent of Google Earth, online maps, or car and phone navigation tools has created an explosion in the use of visual maps in every day life. Instead of reading text, we are now provided maps to more easily see how to get from point A to point B, or where to find open homes in a specific neighborhood. For most of us, seeing is understanding and believing.

Photo courtesy of Google maps.

On the business side, 80% of business data has a location component which provides a goldmine of untapped information for marketing, sales and operations. But current visual mapping and analysis tools are expensive, can only be accessed by trained specialists, and require heavy IT involvement to set up and maintain. This is a big barrier to entry for most businesses. They want to "see", understand and communicate data trends, but don't have the time nor means to invest in yet another expensive infrastructure.

The businesses that already do leverage visual mapping and analysis can more effectively and more quickly see geographic or time-based data and trends critical to sales and operations. This provides them a real competitive advantage. Many oil and gas companies for example have invested in sophisticated Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and brought in GIS specialists to gain insight on their location intelligence via visual maps. This allows them not only to plot areas with the highest potential to drill in, but also better manage their pipelines, operations, retail facilities, and more.

.... or.... . ...and...


... and..

Thankfully, a revolution is taking place that allows "regular" business users -with no GIS training nor deep pockets- to leverage the power of visual mapping and analysis. Enter Software as a Service (SaaS). SaaS is transforming mapping and data visualization in the business world the same way Google Maps revolutionized mapping for consumers. Using cost-effective, user friendly SaaS mapping and analysis applications, such as SpatialKey, organizations of all types and sizes can now import their business data, combine it with geographic or competitive information, and start visually analyzing trends critical to their business. Where are key customers located? How can they maximize results in their sales territories? How best to map their sales territories? Where should they open a new retail outlet? How does Q2 sales compare to Q1 on a geographic basis? What marketing campaign resulted in the highest ROI? And so much more.

Opportunities and threats previously hidden within row and column-based datasets are now clearly visible via interactive maps. Concepts difficult to explain in text or PowerPoint presentations can now also be shown and therefore easily understood resulting in better decision making. What’s more, since everyday decision makers can use these applications, “what if” questions can be answered on the fly versus having to wait for an analyst to do a new data query. Decision-making, communication, and collaboration are improved. After all, seeing is understanding and believing, even in the business world.

Note: we'll be adding blog posts around visual mapping for sales and marketing users over the next few weeks. In the meantime you can find out more at our sales and marketing and/or enterprise solutions pages.

Posted in sales territories, Mapping, Sales mapping, examples, Location intelligence, GIS, Sales & Marketing, solutions, Target marketing, Data visualization | Leave a reply

The First International Crisis Mapping Conference - ACLED Demo

Posted on October 16, 2009 by Tom Link


We're excited to be at the first International Crisis Mapping Conference in Cleveland, OH for the weekend.

While at ICCM2009, we'll be discussing some of our work with ACLED (Armed Conflict Location and Events Dataset). The ACLED project was founded by Dr. Clionadh Raleigh and team members from the PRIO Centre for the Study of Civil War, who set out to create a conflict database that would help answer researchers’ questions. ACLED was subsequently funded by the World Bank with the aim of better understanding events in client states.

This video gives a brief overview of how SpatialKey is being used to investigate the relationship between this data and the location of refugee camps and environmental factors. What's significant is that SpatialKey is making it easier for ACLED researchers to collaboratively bring together vast amounts of information from a wide variety of sources in a meaningful way - all without having to involve programmers or GIS experts to get their work done.

A recent Reuters article about trends in crisis mapping highlights the very issue SpatialKey is helping researchers solve:

Researchers have used maps to visualise crises for many years.

But there are drawbacks in the the use of highly-sophisticated, computerised Geographical Information Systems (GIS), which are usually used in such work -- not least that they are expensive and difficult to operate.

Nor do these systems allow for much integration and collaboration, and due to their complexities they are not usually updated in real time.

For more details on our work with ACLED, read the ACLED crisis mapping case study.

Posted in Mapping, examples, Visualization, solutions, crisis mapping | Leave a reply