When most developers and brokers think of GIS software, they think about the mapping tools provided by a particular city. Although these maps serve their purpose to the general public, the tools are often slow and highly limited in functionality. Despite this, the underlying data can be useful when properly filtered or manipulated. For example, what if you could instantly identify off-market properties of a certain size, zoning, and value, while quickly being able to determine whether the property was in a tax incentive zone, an overlay district, or in the flood plain? What if all of this data was in one place?
The good thing is that most of this data is free to add to your own applications, if you know where or how to find it. Most public entities are required by law to be transparent with the data they collect. The only time they can justify charging you to access this data is when it takes a laborious process to collect. Thus, they are charging you for the labor to retrieve the data, rather than the data itself. Since public entities do not profit off of these charges, they really aren't incentivized to make their data difficult to access, and most entities fully support open data initiatives and are making their data easier to access than ever before.
Now, cities and other public entities are regularly publishing their GIS data files, and they are typically easy to find and download. For example, here is a link to San Antonio's GIS data page and here is a link to Austin's. If the data is not easily accessible, you may have to submit an information request. In Texas, I typically make a reference to the Texas Public Information Act, and if I am requesting data from a Federal entity, I mention the Freedom of Information Act. In both cases, I am looking to get the information in a .SHP file format (shapefile).
Shapefiles can be opened up using any GIS platform, but most GIS platforms are not very user friendly. It could take hours and hours just to make sure your underlying base map (like google maps) and your shapefile data are matched up on the same coordinate system. Overall, it is very complex, and developers and brokers shouldn't have to worry about it, since their most important task is to make great real estate deals.
With Site Identify, we wanted to give developers and brokers the power of GIS, without burdening them with the complexities of a traditional GIS platform. We provide the most difficult to store and retrieve data and standardize it into one format. Then, we provide developers with cloud storage and tools to upload their own custom data layers. Now, real estate firms that want the power of GIS don't need to hire a GIS specialist for $75,000 to do so. They can instead, simply, give Site Identify to their analysts and land acquisition teams.
Do you want to turn your analysts and associates into revenue producers? With custom layers in Site Identify, the time it takes to do a basic site analysis can be reduced 50-75%. The time spent on analysis is now up-front, in the retrieval of data, rather than ad hoc on every individual real estate site brought to the team. Your team is now empowered to proactively find sites by creatively searching and filtering, which will result in more deals for your firm.
If you are interested in learning more about Site Identify, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a web demonstration.
The official Site Identify blog
David Morin (co-founder)