If you want to find out who your neighbors are, you can look at Census data, which will tell you things like the number of private businesses or by how much the population increased in your area — all in a spreadsheet format.
InstaGIS offers a lot of the same kinds of information — it also has crime and traffic data, for example — but presents it in a different way. It turns your neighborhood into an infographic with bold colors and icons for things like gender and households.
The company, a member of the 500 Startups accelerator program, plans to release a paid version in two weeks. That version will draw not only on data from government sources (Census, Department of State), but also social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare) and private sources (Gnip, Topsy, your own data).
Users will be able to create real-time heatmaps of specific demographics—say young, affluent Asians living in San Francisco—and social media info, like what people are tweeting or where they’re checking in on Foursquare in those neighborhoods. They can also overlay traffic and crime data, as well as their own.
The company pitches itself at marketers. The idea is that a business can use the mapping data to target its customers or to seek out locations with certain demographic characteristics. For the past eight months, InstaGIS has been working only with big, paying companies, including Walmart, Unilever and Kimberly-Clark.
Now its hoping to find clients in businesses across the U.S. that will shell out $2,000 a month for the software. It’s aiming the service at retail, government, insurance and utilities companies. About 2,500 people have used the free version before it was publicly announced Friday.
The company is a less-technical version of Esri’s ArcGIS, which is still geared mostly toward GIS professionals. It also has far fewer data sets than Esri and concentrates mostly on demographics, less on things like oil pipelines and natural disasters.
“Those kind of tools are not made for the decision makers, they are made for technical people,” Canals said. “We enable decision makers to play with realtime data.”
InstaGIS was founded by market researcher Julian Garcia and Ignacio Canals who has worked in SAAS companies for 18 years. So far it has raised more than half of the $800,000 in funding that it’s looking for, and its advisors include the founders of Visual.ly and Topsy.