On Friday, Aug. 21, leaders representing municipalities across Lake County will convene at Indiana University Northwest to learn how they can leverage geographic information systems (GIS) software to enhance economic development in Northwest Indiana.
A similar approach, by which law enforcement agencies began joining the Northwest Indiana Public Safety Data Consortium (NWIPSDC) over the past two years, has seen unprecedented success and has transformed the way crime is addressed in the region. IU Northwest experts say this same tool can be used to enhance economic development in the region.
To accomplish this, School of Business Professors Subir Bandyopadhyay, Ph.D. and Ranjan Kini, Ph.D., are collaborating with Associate Professor Joseph Ferrandino, Ph.D., who spearheaded the NWIPSDC and the resulting Regional Crime Reports, housed on the website of the Northwest Indiana Times.
At Friday’s seminar, the professors will meet with key officials in Lake County municipalities to demonstrate how to begin a similar collaborative data-sharing tool to help boost economic development.
“This tool can help local officials make decisions relating to business and economic development, provide marketing support for existing businesses of all sizes, provide information to potential businesses that would like to invest in a facility in Northwest Indiana; and enhance the capabilities of current town and city employees in providing relevant data,” said Bandyopadhyay.
Bandyopadhyay said the seminar will showcase how this tool can be applied based on the data available on Munster, Ind. The application contains query-based information on existing businesses, parcels, address points, police calls, road traffic counts, zoning and other criteria ranging from retail sales by census block group, Facebook users, healthcare markets and other data that is critical to the business community and economic development. The application includes the ability to analyze, filter, sort and layer information that is not currently available in one format or one place.
Ultimately, the experts hope to build a data-sharing consortium among the business community that can be used by leaders to make smart business decisions that will benefit the economic health of the entire region.
“Law enforcement agencies in the region have used this tool with great success,” Ferrandino said. “They’ve learned that knowledge of what is happening across their own borders helps them make decisions that benefit the entire region as a whole and not just their own agency. This same approach can help not only individual businesses thrive, but can spur economic development throughout Northwest Indiana.”