Johannes Buerger, coordinator of the new location intelligence program at North Park University, appreciates the reliable real estate maxim “location, location, location.”
Led by Buerger, North Park recently launched a major in location intelligence offered through the School of Professional Studies. “There are many students who come out of high school with a dream to change the world, and I think that location intelligence, which is related to geography and sustainable environmental planning, is something that gives you the opportunity to make changes in the world,” says Buerger.
Anyone who has done the research of buying a home or renting an apartment has likely used a simple form of a geographic information system (GIS), a tool applied in the study of location intelligence (LOCI). Using that information to choose a house or apartment is a perfect example of a practical, everyday use of location intelligence.
“Location matters in your everyday life,” says Buerger, noting that skills acquired in the study of location intelligence can be applied to a broad range of disciplines, from digital marketing to biology.
In the LOCI program, students learn in-demand tech skills such as utilizing GIS—software specifically designed to collect and manage geographic data. Other skill sets students will develop include map design, remote sensing, urban planning, and geomarketing.
From elevation to demographics of consumers in a neighborhood – location intelligence analyzes this type of valuable information and applies it to businesses and everyday life. While expertise or a degree in math is not required, a statistics background is an advantage in such areas as creating and analyzing maps.
As the field of location intelligence is relatively new and broadly applicable, location intelligence professionals are highly valuable to businesses who already implement GIS in small ways and those who have yet to implement these tools. “Location intelligence offers a very desirable skill set because you can do big data management and spatial analysis, which are required in so many different fields,” Buerger says.
Graduates with a degree in location intelligence have many exciting career options such as urban planning, disaster management, community service, and geo-marketing. For instance, city and retail planners use location intelligence to choose the spot for a new bus stop, find out where the next viable franchise location is, and assess where it is most profitable for a company to make deliveries.
Location intelligence is not limited to urban planning or urban studies – it can be used to assess weather patterns, sales, marketing, and even the natural sciences. “Location intelligence is such an interdisciplinary program which opens many doors, not just one,” says Buerger.