Using Demographics to Augment Location Data

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What are Demographics?

Demography is the science of vital and social statistics, especially with reference to population size, density, fertility, mortality, growth rate, age distribution, and migration. Demographics then are the data points resulting from the science of demography. Demographics are used in a variety of applications in both the public and private sectors.

What is location data used for?

Location data is collected from smartphones and other devices to help businesses, governments, and other organizations plan initiatives more strategically and make better decisions for growth. Location data analysis pinpoints people’s location and sheds new light on behavioral changes and neighborhood demographics. Augmented with demographic data, or data from real estate, the retail sector, healthcare and other industries, location data helps drive reliable, informed decision-making.

Who uses demographics to augment location data and what for?

When demographic data is used to complement location data, the result is powerful insights and improved decision-making for the public sector, as well as private organizations in health, commercial real estate investment, retail and many other industries.

In each case, the user is seeking to understand how to execute investments, plans, and processes that are reliant on population density and/or the movement of people through different locations and areas.

Here's a little more about how different groups of people use demographics and location data together:

CRE Investors

CRE investors can use census demographic data to augment location data in many different ways. For example, to research areas with increasing foot traffic and accurately measure population and income flow. This helps to identify investment and development opportunities. Our research report on Emerging Areas in SE Florida specifically examines 8 counties to find desirable investment and development opportunities.

CRE investors use demographics with location data in order to better understand other data, such as current lease rates, or projected sales.

Retailers and Restaurateurs

Retailers and restaurateurs typically use demographics to augment location data in order to determine ideal sites for new locations, for geo-marketing, and to help determine staffing levels for various locations and shifts.

Retailers and restaurateurs are highly sensitive to changes in local consumer population and mobility. So, when COVID started, it was not a surprise to see both industries suffer a spate of closures and bankruptcies.

That said, there is a ripple effect happening where People with Money are moving from one place to another. This is creating new economic power in traditionally less wealthy counties.

The movements of People with Money in 2020 ignited boomtowns all over the US. That’s an opportunity smart retailers and restaurateurs can capitalize on.  

CIOs and Data Scientists

Chief Information Officers and Data Scientists use demographics to augment location data in a broad range of use cases based on industry and specific objectives. One example is to add new depth to a given project by connecting to different demographic and location data sets across any given country, state, city, and neighborhood.

This can be useful to track things like human mobility, emerging areas, population migration patterns, and to probe insights already connected to the American Community Survey. It's also used to assess and benchmark logistics performance and advise automation controls and processes in several industries. 

CIOs and Data Scientists use demographics along with location data in order to scale the breadth and depth of their vision into an industry, market, or problem  -- it’s a powerful tool in the chest.

Public Sector

Perhaps the most obvious use case, the public sector and government rely heavily on data from demographics, location and other sources in order to plan and execute projects. Some of the more common use cases include: 

  • Planning and operations for public transit
  • Real estate acquisition and development
  • Maintenance and security
  • Location planning for essential services
  • Urban land use classification
When augmenting location data, demographics can help public sector planners and engineers to optimize infrastructure in order to meet evolving population density and foot traffic models.

Journalists and Media

Journalists and the media use demographics with location data in order to dig deeper and faster. For example, a local journalist can find an angle on the bigger picture by using visualization tools to provide a picture of foot traffic and encounter density around key locations on their beat. 

Covering an urban exodus at the state level, or a local small town boom? Select an  address to start, then measure and visualize foot traffic and population flow. You can even determine changes in total net income right down to the neighborhood level.

For journalists seeking an edge, emerging data is pure storytelling gold.

What do demographics and location data tell us about how big cities will recover?

No major urban center is impervious to the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Foot traffic in big cities everywhere is down dramatically. Although a few anomalies of resilience exist and a small handful of retail brands have found footing in big cities, the trendlines for foot traffic, migration patterns, and income flow, are negative in most big US cities.

The most probable path ahead for the lion’s share of big cities is a shift in the local market. Trending will be towards lower-priced retail options, a decrease in rent for CRE leaseholders, and a shift of buying power.


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