March 31, 2021

What is a Legacy Online Site Selection Technology?

Ron Bertasi

What is a Legacy Online Site Selection Technology?

A legacy online site selection technology is an older software solution that provides basic online functionality, but lacks the most up-to-date data and interactive tools. As competitive pressures force businesses to focus relentlessly on improving their site selection processes with more and better data and increasingly sophisticated analysis, legacy apps fall further and further behind every year.

Most legacy apps were built years ago and were never designed to include all the functionality of modern GIS. Keep reading to learn more about why legacy apps get out of date, or take our simple test to determine if your online site selection technology is out of date.

Why don’t legacy providers update their technology?

Legacy providers don’t keep up with modern GIS technology for a simple reason: it’s cheaper not to.

Legacy providers choose to extend their product’s life cycle indefinitely, by writing just enough code to modestly improve functionality. For legacy providers this can prove profitable in the short run, keeping development and maintenance costs low while treating the technology as a cash cow. But for economic developers this creates two problems.

First, since legacy technology was never designed to include the features of modern GIS, attempts to bolt on those features have a negative impact on user experience. As legacy providers add improvements over time they deviate further and further from their original design and inevitably create a cluttered and confusing user experience.

Second, legacy technologies become outdated as they move along the familiar product life cycle curve, and the provider’s cash cow soon becomes the economic developer’s legacy app. Eventually the economic developer must find a replacement for an outdated technology simply to stay competitive.

Why don’t legacy providers incorporate the complete Esri data businesses are looking for?

Legacy providers don’t offer access to the entire Esri data set because they can’t. GIS WebTech is the only certified Esri Partner in economic development, and the only provider of GIS apps for economic development including real-time access to the entire Esri data set.

Most legacy providers develop their apps on second-tier GIS platforms lacking advanced tools relevant for economic development, such as Mapbox or Google. This forces them to source less-accurate demographic data from cheaper, third party providers you’ve probably never heard of. In the case of Google, it also explains why features relevant for businesses are not included: Google was designed for the consumer market.

What types of functionality are missing in legacy apps?

Legacy apps are behind in numerous areas, but analytical tools and local data are perhaps the most important.

If a site selector wants to look at data around a location or property of interest, legacy apps limit them to collecting data within an average drive time. Users have no ability to customize their analysis for traffic by selecting the day of the week, the time of day, or the direction of travel. Instead, they are stuck with an analysis that makes no distinction between a Sunday afternoon and weekday at rush hour. The result is inaccurate analysis and inaccurate data.

Modern technologies, in contrast, allow the user to select the day of the week, the time of day, and the direction of travel, producing more accurate analysis and therefore better data.

Similarly, legacy technologies do not include trucking time analysis — which is distinct from drive times that assume a passenger car — and increasingly demanded by manufacturers, industrials and distributors. Likewise, legacy apps do not provide walking time analysis, which is a great feature for urban areas and downtowns focused on recruiting retailers, restaurants, and other businesses impacting quality of life and livability.

Similarly, providers of older GIS technologies still require you to email them shapefiles if you want to include layers that showcase your local data. Want to add layers showing parcels, zoning, sewer & water, trails & parks, or local transit? All of these layers are already built on the Esri platform by the GIS departments of your government and utility partners, and modern GIS apps allow you to add them to your app with just a few clicks. If you are still emailing shapefiles around your GIS app is out of date.

What about cost?

Here’s the best part: in technology the latest thing is often less expensive than legacy products. Why? Simple. The latest technologies are built with the latest development tools and lack the high maintenance costs of legacy code, which is usually many years old. In fact, GIS WebTech is affordable by communities of all sizes, and we help small, rural communities compete and win just as we help whole states and large regional organizations.

How do I know if my sites & buildings app is out of date?

Take our simple test to determine if your online site selection technology is out of date.

Want to experience the latest technology?

Drop me a note at or fill out our web form at and we would be happy to provide an online demo, so you can see first-hand why GIS WebTech is the fastest-growing provider in North America. We look forward to connecting!

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