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GIS in Business: Examining Population Numbers Within a Network Service Area

By Justin Sorensen

GIS (Geospatial Information Systems) are utilized by many fields and industries throughout the world. To highlight some of these fields, our Map Monday releases for the 2019 Spring Semester will provide examples of ways GIS can be employed within the work performed by such professionals.

For this map release, we will look at an example of GIS in Business.

Examining Population Numbers Within a Network Service Area

One of the key aspects of GIS is its ability to visualize data. Displaying information on business locations and their surroundings provides viewers with ways of interpreting and interacting with the data in ways text cannot. Within a business or corporation, GIS provides a method for analyzing data to make informed decisions that can impact future success. One type of data that may be considered is the placement of retail stores and its interaction with surrounding customers.

Take this hypothetical scenario: Target is seeking to better understand its customer network within Salt Lake County, Utah. The organization has tasked you with identifying commute times surrounding each of its (6) locations and reporting on the population estimate within a 5-minute drive-time service area.

Utilizing GIS technology, you begin your investigation by developing a network analysis, breaking down commute times for each store location in 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25-minute intervals. Next, you bring census block population data into the mix and extract numbers contained within each of the generated service areas. Finally, you bring all of your research together to present findings and conclusions that answer the query of the organization.

What do our results show for this scenario? Generating travel time service areas for each Target store location shows that the majority of customers living in Salt Lake County travel between 5 to 10-minutes to arrive at the closest store location. Furthermore, census block population numbers for each service area shows that the majority of Salt Lake County residents live within the 5 to 10-minute services area. Using this information, Target officials can begin identifying a new store location to better accommodate its growing customer network.

Interested in learning more about GIS in other fields? Check out our collection of past Map Monday releases @

About Map Monday from GIS Services:

Throughout the semester, GIS Services will be releasing bi-weekly maps on a variety of topics, demonstrating ideas and uses for incorporating geospatial technology into research and projects you are developing. To view our collection of maps, projects, or to learn more about the geospatial services offered through the J. Willard Marriott Library, please visit the GIS Services website @

Happy Mapping!

Justin Sorensen | GIS Specialist
Creativity & Innovation Services / GIS Services

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