As real estate professionals have repeated for years, “location, location, location”.  When our clients begin the process of planning large and small-scale development projects, the location is generally a given.  A parcel may already be owned, and our client wishes to utilize it to its fullest, or a small number of parcels are being considered for purchase.  Critical to the success of any bricks and mortar business is the ability of customers to access it.  In markets with dense traffic congestion, such as Southern California, and metropolitan Baton Rouge, Louisiana, customers often shy away from businesses that are simply too difficult to get to.  Similarly, if a business is located in an area that few people regularly traverse, it is difficult to attract customers to it.

I have recently been using new tools to understand traffic patterns and to help our clients make informed development decisions, most notably the World Traffic Service data on ESRI’s ArcGIS Online.  This map service, “presents near real-time traffic information for different regions in the world.  The data is updated every 5 minutes” and is a “dynamic map service with capabilities for visualizing traffic speeds relative to free-flow speeds as well as traffic incidents which can be visualized and identified.”  This amazing data comes from the collection of “billions of GPS and cell phone probe records per month and, where available, uses sensor and toll-tag data to augment the probe data collected.  An advanced algorithm complies the data and computes accurate speeds.”  WOW.  The miracle of modern technology enables us to delve deeper than traditional traffic count data (A.A.D.T.), allows us to visualize what the numbers really mean, and can give planners, developers, and investors tremendous insight into a potential development site as well as the locations of competing businesses.

Suzanne P. Leckert, AICP

Managing Partner, Convergence Strategy Group

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