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December 28, 1998 / January 4, 1998

Update your business market analysis with 21st century data

Businesses large and small need information about their markets. But a common complaint is that the readily available 1990 U.S. census data on population and demographics is flawed and increasingly irrelevant. On top of this, conservatives in Congress are trying to keep the year-2000 census from being more accurate in terms of minorities and other hard-to-count groups.

Fortunately, there are new tools for those who need updated information about their city, state, or country. The makers of Maptitude, a powerful but inexpensive Windows mapping program, are selling a CD-ROM filled with demographic estimates for 1997 and projections for the years 2002 and 2007.

Newton, Mass.-based Caliper, which makes Maptitude, has teamed up with Applied Geographic Solutions, in Thousand Oaks, Calif., to distribute figures that are based on observable indicators, not straight-line projections.

I have been impressed with Caliper's mapping software since I wrote about an early version of Maptitude three years ago. While other mapping companies charge hundreds or thousands of dollars for their programs and raw data, Maptitude includes a free CD-ROM containing U.S. census data down to ZIP codes and block groups, plus files on countries around the world.

Caliper's 1997/2002/2007 Demographic Estimates and Projections CD list price is $395 and will be valuable to anyone who needs current market data. The U.S. forecasts are derived from IRS and Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, plus counts provided by Experian, a company that catalogs nearly every household in the country.

Caliper is behind a number of demonstrations that allow Windows users to take advantage of the potential of maps. Here are just a few, some of which are so new that the demonstration has not yet been put into general service by the company developing it.

  • HUD's Community 2020 Planning Software. Community 2020 is a special version of mapping software developed for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The software is used by governments and individuals to plan social service benefits and take advantage of HUD-financed activities. Community 2020 uses the 1997/2002/2007 data to project, for example, the number of people who will qualify for Medicare in future years. For more information, see the HUD Web site at

  • Online transportation information. The Detroit Department of Transportation is developing an online system to get transit users from point A to point B. When you define your starting and ending point, the DDOT system generates a map of your personal route and a timetable to reach your destination. The best place to see this in action is: Click the large Landmark button and choose two attractions to see the system work.

  • Rail safety. Go to: for a surprisingly detailed look at rail and auto accidents and fatalities. Zoom in on the dynamic map until you see individual railroad crossings with little bar charts.

  • Center for Responsive Politics. This Washington nonprofit group provides on the Web what it calls "a view of your state that you won't find in any atlas." It shows where money for political candidates came from in each state. See

    For more information on Maptitude, go to

    Brian Livingston's latest book is Windows 98 Secrets (IDG Books). Send tips to He regrets that he cannot answer individual questions.

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