The data available to us this day in age is staggering. So staggering, in fact, that we are often overwhelmed by the complexity and the sheer magnitude of it. Vast amounts of data simply lies in wait, an underutilized resource waiting to be tapped.

White Whale Solutions is now harnessing the power of ArcGIS software and creating tools that allow us to look at, to analyze, and to communicate complex data with a spatial component. These tools give us, and our customers, the ability to see complex data represented geographically in maps. But better yet, these tools also offer a user friendly interface where anyone, not just GIS (Geographic Information System) experts, can dive into the data and begin to answer big questions about who, where and why. And these answers are leading to vastly more efficient use of our customers’ resources, as they can now communicate directly with potential customers and avoid wasted time and energy in marketing to areas with a low likelihood of new customers.

The tool we’ve developed most recently utilizes household counts within census block data, which is the smallest geographic unit used by the United States Census Bureau.  The tool overlays this data with natural gas infrastructure maps, and we can then calculate the areas of highest potential for people to tap into the pipelines. In short, it tells us where new natural gas customers are most likely to be found.  Our natural gas clients require neighborhoods with a minimum number of likely households to make their communication efforts worthwhile, and they can now define these areas with much greater accuracy.

To make this happen we employ a 5 step process:

1)  Geocode current pipeline customers (turning addresses into points on a map)

2)  Obtain a household count per census blocks

3)  Overlay number of current customers per census block

4)  Calculate number of potential customers per census block (total households minus current customers)

5)  Calculate the households’ distance to the pipeline

6)  Add on: demographics – use demo data to further refine those most likely to switch to natural gas!

The finished product ensures the client can efficiently target their communications to potential customers and limit their mailings to households within defined distances of existing pipelines. Only people that are likely to make a switch are targeted, and thus our clients save time and money.

Yet another tool that we’re developing even allows the customers themselves to access and self-educate about the potential to tie into the pipeline and switch to natural gas. This tool uses similar databases and calculations, and presents it in an easy to understand format for the general public.

These are just a few examples of how we’re taking advantage of the treasure trove of publicly available data and helping our clients become more efficient with how they communicate to their customers. These tools help us visualize WHERE and HOW MANY potential customers are still out there – it’s how we help our clients maximize their efforts in areas with high potential returns.  Every day this technology races forward, and we plan to be there on the cutting edge, developing GIS tools to help our clients analyze, understand, and capture the value inherent in geographic data.