The Complete Guide to Location Intelligence for Business

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For businesses looking to understand how people interact with physical locations, location intelligence is the answer. Location intelligence takes business analytics to a new level by revealing patterns and trends hidden in location-based data. From marketing strategies to supply chain management, this tool is transforming how we understand and engage with our surroundings, driving innovation and competitive advantage.

This expansive guide is tailored for retailers, advertisers, real estate firms, software companies, and any business professional looking to harness the power of location intelligence. We will explore the what, why, how, and where of location intelligence, demystifying technical jargon and providing practical guidance for integrating this tool into your business strategy.

The Basics of Location Intelligence

At its core, location intelligence is the process of deriving meaningful insights from geospatial data to optimize business operations and experiences. It’s all about understanding the "where" factor that shapes consumer behavior, market analysis, and resource management strategies.

Think about how a retail giant strategically places stores in popular shopping areas. This isn't guesswork; it's the result of detailed, location-based insights that help businesses identify the best spots to reach their target audience and maximize sales opportunities.

What Is Location Intelligence and How Is It Gathered?

Location intelligence is revealed through the analysis and visualization of geospatial data. By overlaying location-based information—like foot traffic, demographics, and weather data—onto maps or dashboards, distinct insights are uncovered. This intelligence enables businesses to grasp 'where' and 'why' things are happening.

The field of location intelligence ranges from simple demographic mapping to complex algorithms that predict future consumer behaviors. It all starts with data collection, which most often originates from GPS data derived from mobile devices.

Geofencing, a location-based service that allows a company to define a virtual perimeter around a real-world area, is another tool used to collect data on customer presence and behavior. This information is then processed and analyzed to provide actionable insights.

Understanding the Technologies

Geographic Information Systems (GIS), spatial analysis, and mapping software are the essential technologies driving location intelligence. These tools can visualize data in geographic formats, create predictive models, and offer a wide array of analytical features.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are designed to store, manipulate, and manage all types of geographical data. The power of GIS lies in its ability to link data to a location, creating a dynamic way to visualize and understand patterns and relationships in the data through maps. This technology is integral for businesses that rely on accurate geographical data for decision-making, such as in urban planning, environmental conservation, and emergency management.

Spatial analysis involves examining the positions, attributes, and relationships of features in spatial data through methods such as overlay analysis, buffer analysis, and network analysis. Spatial analysis helps businesses interpret and extract valuable insights from GIS data, enabling them to predict trends, such as consumer behavior patterns or optimal locations for new stores or services.

Mapping software offers a more accessible approach to visualizing geographic data and is often used for creating straightforward maps that can be integrated into presentations, reports, or online platforms. While GIS can create maps, mapping software is typically less complex and more user-friendly, focusing on the visual aspect rather than deep data analysis or management.

Location Intelligence Solutions

Unacast provides location intelligence solutions for every phase of the data analysis journey. From device-level data to our easy-to-use location insights platform, we have a solution for every business.

  • Unacast’s device-level data is the ultimate solution for large or complex enterprises needing high-quality location data across the globe. With licensed access to granular, deduplicated, and cleaned device-level data, organizations can implement Unacast data in their own products or solutions, scoped and delivered to their exact specifications.
  • Unacast’s location analytics solution provides aggregated datasets that make it easier to get actionable insights from the data. Our datasets include foot traffic, trade areas, cross visitation, and demographics.
  • Unacast’s location insights platform makes location intelligence easy. With generative AI summaries and machine learning powered insights, users can instantly understand the venues, neighborhoods, and custom locations they care about.

Benefits of Location Intelligence

The benefits of location intelligence are far-reaching and versatile. By leveraging these insights, businesses can:

  • Improve Customer Experiences: Understanding where your customers are can help tailor marketing materials, personalize recommendations, and enhance the overall customer experience.
  • Optimize Operations: Location data can streamline supply chain logistics, improve service routes, and manage inventory more efficiently.
  • Market Analysis: Identify new market opportunities, evaluate existing markets, and understand competitive positioning.
  • Risk Management: Assess environmental risks, insurance liabilities, and economic vulnerabilities based on location.

Industry Use Cases of Location Intelligence

Every industry can tap into the power of location intelligence. Here are just a few examples of how it's being used:

  • Retail: Store location planning, customer behavior analysis, and local demand forecasting. Retailers can plan their marketing campaigns based on trade area analysis, understand the impact of promotions and campaigns, and benchmark their performance against competitors.
  • Real Estate: Property valuations, site selection, and land use planning. Real estate companies can inform their next investment decision through foot traffic and area demographics.
  • Software: Implement location data as a product offering, provide foot traffic insights, trade area analysis, demographics, and customer journey data.
  • Advertising: Location-based advertising, targeting location-based audiences.
  • Logistics: Route optimization, fleet management, and predictive maintenance based on location data.

Location Intelligence Tools

The market for location intelligence tools is growing rapidly, with a variety of platforms catering to different use cases. Some popular tools include:

  • Unacast: The market leader in location intelligence solutions, with offerings for every level of sophistication in data analysis.
  • Esri: The leader in GIS technology, offering GIS mapping software and solutions for all industries.
  • Carto: A spatial analytics platform for geospatial analysts.
  • Safegraph: The leading point-of-interest (POI) data provider.

Location Intelligence Accuracy

One of the most critical aspects of location intelligence is the accuracy of the data. Poor-quality data leads to unreliable insights and decisions. Organizations must ensure that the location data they collect and analyze is precise and up-to-date.

Improving Data Accuracy

To improve data accuracy, businesses should:

  • Work with providers that adhere to a rigorous methodology for data suppliers, deduplication, merging, forensic flagging, and cleaning data.
  • Employ data validation techniques, like forensic flagging, to filter out anomalies and errors.
  • Utilize sources that are trusted in their industry and have been time-tested.
  • Rely on datasets that are regularly updated and have enough coverage to reflect changes in the environment, customer behavior, and other factors.

Stages of Location Intelligence

These terms are often used interchangeably but refer to distinct stages of the location intelligence process.

  • Location Data: Raw data points, such as coordinates or addresses, that pertain to a specific geographical location.
  • Location Analytics: The interpretation and analysis of location data to extract meaningful patterns, correlations, and other insights.
  • Location Insights: The actionable results derived from location analytics, providing strategic and operational guidance for a business.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is My Company Ready for Location Intelligence?

If you want to gain a deeper understanding of your customers, optimize business performance, or improve decision-making with human mobility context, your company is ready for location intelligence. If you don’t have a sophisticated data science team, you can still work with location insights through our easy-to-use platform.

How Do You Ensure Data Privacy with Location Intelligence?

Data privacy is critical, especially with location-based data. Ensuring compliance with regulations like GDPR, pseudonymizing personal data, and having transparent policies on data collection can help maintain customer trust.

What Are Common Mistakes in Implementing Location Intelligence?

Some common mistakes include not setting clear objectives, using poor-quality data, and neglecting to keep up with technological advancements in the field. Unacast’s team of advanced machine learning experts ensure that our data is constantly updated with the latest technologies.

What Does the Future of Location Intelligence Look Like?

The future of location intelligence is incredibly promising, with advancements in machine learning and AI set to revolutionize spatial patterning and prediction. We're likely to see even more personalized experiences and hyper-localized services as businesses refine their location-based strategies.


The integration of location intelligence into business operations is a necessity as leaders strive for ever more efficiency and optimization. Whether you're mapping out your next marketing campaign, planning a brick-and-mortar expansion, or fine-tuning your online delivery routes, location intelligence can guide you to success. With the right tools, the right data, and the right mindset, the possibilities are endless for businesses exploring the world through location intelligence.

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