September 17, 2021

How to Maintain Your Community’s Edge in Online Site Selection

Ron Bertasi

As most economic developers know, GIS WebTech has been the fastest-growing provider of online site selection technology for five consecutive years, rapidly growing from a relative unknown to one of the largest providers in North America.

How have we done it? 

Simple: we disrupted a sleepy sector with ground-breaking innovation, and we’ve kept the innovations coming ever since. 

Economic developers choosing GIS WebTech don’t just get the most advanced technology today, they also know that their technology will always integrate the latest data and features to stay on the leading edge. They can stay focused on business retention and attraction while we focus on delivering the most advanced online site selection technology available.

GIS WebTech’s innovation extends across all three critical components of online site selection: data, user experience, and analytical tools. GIS WebTech was the first to integrate workforce data into GIS for economic development and remains the only technology providing real-time access to the entire Esri data set. Our team set the bar for user experience by creating the sector’s first automatic clustering function for property icons, providing a visually pleasing and uncluttered map view that remains the standard. GIS WebTech was the first to provide analytical tools reflecting real-life site selection decisions: trucking time and distance, walking time and distance, and customizable drive times that reflect real-life traffic.

GIS WebTech’ relentless innovation has driven a few of the legacy providers to adopt some of these features after years with little innovation. As they say, it is flattering to be imitated! But GIS WebTech innovation never stops, so our clients enjoy cutting edge technology as a permanent benefit.

How do we maintain our technology leadership? Only GIS WebTech’s Recruit is built natively on Esri, the world’s leading GIS platform, so only GIS WebTech can include cutting edge features simply not available on the second-tier GIS platforms used by legacy providers. Some examples:

  • GIS WebTech’s Recruit is the only technology that integrates 3D and virtual site visits right in the app. Legacy technologies require you to send users off your site to Google Earth, a painfully slow consumer app not designed for business use and unable to provide all of the components of a comprehensive virtual site visit. Worse, once those site selectors leave your site you have no control on what they see, or even whether they return. 

Recruit, in contrast, provides full 3D functionality right in the app, enabling comprehensive virtual site visits and ensuring your users stay on your site seeing your community strengths. 

     Sending users to Google Earth in place of in-app 3D is a sure sign of a legacy technology.

  • Recruit is the only technology enabling virtual spec buildings. Virtual spec buildings are the hottest trend in economic development, and only Recruit incorporates them. Recruit allows you to showcase a potential building as if it were physically on the available land, providing comprehensive virtual site visits for buildings still in the idea stage. And you don’t need architectural drawings, CAD or Revit files. In fact, GIS WebTech integrates virtual spec buildings with nothing more than a few sentences describing the potential building. Legacy technologies cannot integrate virtual spec buildings, so showcasing a potential building is not an option and you are stuck asking your prospects to use their imaginations.
Virtual Spec Building Showing Potential Light Industrial Use Case – Macon-Bibb County, GA
  • Recruit is the only technology allowing you to integrate local data layers automatically. With Recruit, you have access to millions of layers available publicly on the Esri platform as well as automated access to local data layers built by your government and utility partners. This means you can add local data supporting your strategy with just a few clicks: sewer, water, transit, zoning, parcels, traffic counts, hiking trails, beaches, parks, things to do, attractions, neighborhood highlights … the possibilities are endless. Best of all, once you add layers with a few clicks they stay updated automatically. Legacy technologies, in contrast, still require you to get shapefiles from the layer owners, email them around, and then watch them get out of date before doing it all over again next quarter or next year to update them.

Interactive Zoning Layer – Maple Ridge, BC
  • GIS WebTech provides the industry’s only complete GIS for economic development. We include easy-to-use Esri tools that integrate with Recruit and allow you to go beyond a cookie-cutter sites and buildings app. With our complete GIS you can easily tailor your installation of Recruit to focus businesses on your strengths. Want to highlight a local industry cluster or supply chain? With a complete GIS you can easily create an interactive, custom layer showcasing your data. Want to produce your own beautiful and engaging customized, interactive infographics to embed on your website, include in reports, or send to prospects? With a complete GIS you can create them in minutes. Want to make your RFI response more rigorous and increase your odds of success? With a complete GIS advanced analytics like suitability analysis and site comparisons for multiple properties are simple and easy.

I could go on with many more examples of GIS WebTech technology leadership, but let me close by answering the question implicit in the headline of this blog post. The way to maintain your community’s edge in the competitive game of economic development is to leverage up-to-date GIS technology to keep your data and your story in front of your prospects. Doing so requires a complete GIS technology built on the industry leading Esri platform and a partner committed to keeping you at the forefront: GIS WebTech.

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