Companies are already building interesting products on Microsoft SQL Server 2008's spatial data types, currently in beta. Spatial data types means businesses and products can now handle complex location data and apply it against other business or technical specific data without requiring expense GIS systems. Let's take a look at a company using these new features in SQL Server 2008.
At The Angel Capital Summit held in Denver, CO, on Tuesday, the new startup company AWhere Inc. demonstrated their location visualization product, AWhere 3.8 . CEO John Corbett gave a visually stunning and passionate pitch during the event designed to help startups at various stages of growth capitalize their companies.
How is AWhere using SQL Server 2008's spatial data features? First, imagine taking your relevant business specific data, such as sales revenues, customer locations, store locations, crop yields, distance and tracking data, or risk analysis information. Then combine it with publicly and commercially available spatial data such as Google Earth, Microsoft Visual Earth, census location data, weather information, topographical maps, or historical records.
You might see that you have an abundance of store locations that are concentrated too closely to the San Andreas Fault. Or there's been an unexpected spike in dry good sales in a certain part of the city due to road construction that has services shut off. Or hiding in the mass of data, are other less obvious locations that are seeing spikes in orders due to their proximity to certain businesses or geographic landmarks.
These are the types of applications traditionally limited to very expensive GIS systems. Now that type of analysis can be performed on a desktop application, like AWhere's desktop visualization software. Location analysis doesn't have to be maintained in separate or proprietary applications and databases. The data can be added to decision support systems or internal IT applications.
Plan to hear more from Microsoft about these new spatial data features. I think you'll hear (or should I say "see") more about it at events where Microsoft will spotlight AWhere and others, showing off SQL Server 2008's new spatial capabilities.