Utilizing GIS for Investment Opportunities

Mark Altaweel


Investing in firms and business opportunities are generally seen as activities where detailed statistics and knowing the firm are traditionally seen as the best way to determine where investors should put their money. However, spatial understanding can be a critical component for understanding where and how investments may occur for given markets.

Using GIS to predict future investments

One method that can aid investors is utilizing past behavior or trends to predict where future investments may occur.[1] This is similar to property investments, where patterns of previous purchases help to inform where future ones likely will occur.[2]

In fact, this research is indicative of the nature of financial investments based on GIS results, where most work has been done in areas where data easily lend themselves to spatial representation rather than mapping more difficult concepts such as consumer demand, sentiment, or service-oriented business that may not be easily mapped.

Mapping investments

As might be expected, real estate has been the biggest focus of spatial analysis and where to invest.[3]

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Attempts, however, have been made to expand the focus. A recent study looked at mutual funds and their performance based on proximity of their headquarters with those companies in which they invest in.

Spatial interpolation of median price per square meter and developer type. Map: Jung, Huynh, & Rowe, 2013.
Spatial interpolation of median price per square meter and developer type. Map: Jung, Huynh, & Rowe, 2013.

The implication is companies that are far could be potentially less known and possibly a more risky investment.[4]

In the pharmaceutical industry, patents appeared to have a spatial relationship, where firms cited or utilized patents from nearby firms.[5] Overall, however, there is still a lot of room for growth in utilizing GIS for investment opportunities and analysis.


[1] For more information on investment history between the UK and Japan using GIS, see:  Buckley, P. J., Horn, S. A., Cross, A. R., & Stillwell, J. (2013). The spatial redistribution of Japanese direct investment in the United Kingdom between 1991 and 2010. Business History, 55(3), 405–430.

[2] For more on property investments, see:  Jung, S., Huynh, D., & Rowe, P. G. (2013). The pattern of foreign property investment in Vietnam: The apartment market in Ho Chi Minh City. Habitat International, 39, 105–113.

[3] For more on real estate and spatial analysis, see: Argiolas, M. (2013). A GIS based system for minimizing acquisition risk in Real Estate property market.

[4] For more on this study, see: McPherson, Mark J. 2014. Does distance affect performance? Investigating the relationship between spatial proximity of stock holdings and mutual fund performance. http://scholarworks.csun.edu/handle/10211.3/121269.

[5] For more on how GIS was used for pharmaceutical, see: Boasson, V., & Boasson, E. (2015). Firm value, spatial knowledge flow, and innovation: evidence from patent citations. China Finance Review International, 5(2), 132–160.


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About the author
Mark Altaweel
Mark Altaweel is a Reader in Near Eastern Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, having held previous appointments and joint appointments at the University of Chicago, University of Alaska, and Argonne National Laboratory. Mark has an undergraduate degree in Anthropology and Masters and PhD degrees from the University of Chicago’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.