Case Study

How Watson + Holmes Performs Accurate Site Selection Analysis with TravelTime

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Watson + Holmes is a real estate data analytics consultancy based in the Netherlands. The company provides local-level real estate analysis to a wide range of clients, including governments and investors.

The Watson + Holmes team uses TravelTime’s Alteryx macros for a number of use cases. For instance, they recently used the tool to analyse location accessibility to help a real estate investor identify the best site for investment. With the tool, they were able to carry out this analysis across the whole of the Netherlands.

Traditionally, location accessibility is analysed using “as the crow flies” distance catchment areas. However, this approach doesn’t consider the reality that accessibility is heavily based on available transport options and local geography. Consequently, when trying to analyse accessibility, distance-based catchments aren’t always entirely accurate.

By using travel time data to understand accessibility, Watson + Holmes’ location analysis now reflects real life. For example, the TravelTime macros and plugins use live public transport timetable data to calculate accurate travel times. They also calculate travel times by other transport modes like driving, cycling, walking, or even a combination. By taking a human-centred approach to accessibility, Watson + Holmes’ analysis is now more accurate than ever.

Conducting site selection analysis for real estate investment

Watson + Holmes recently used TravelTime to help an investor in the Netherlands to identify the best areas to invest in real estate and property developments.

To help determine potential areas, the client provided Watson + Holmes with their key criteria for their investment. As well as considerations such as income, diversity, jobs and safety levels, a key criterion was accessibility to services and amenities. For example, these might include schools, shops or hospitals.

To understand the accessibility of each area, the team first used the TravelTime geocoder tool to map out all addresses within a geographic region. Then, for this particular project, the team created centroids in Alteryx to locate a central point within each region from which to run the analysis. They did this on three regional levels: municipality, neighbourhood and postcode.

Using these central points, the team used the TravelTime tool to create isochrones showing all reachable locations within a 15 or 30-minute travel time by car, public transport or bike. For example, the team might choose to show all locations within a 15-minute cycle from a particular centroid. The tool will instantly create a shape, also known as an isochrone, showing all reachable locations from the centroid within the chosen travel time.

15 minute travel time catchment area by cycling
An example 15-minute travel time catchment area by cycling

Using the travel time isochrones alongside their existing polygons, they used spatial matching to understand the spatial relationships between areas.

After carrying out this analysis, the team scored the areas against each criterion. They then layered the polygons and isochrones over each other to create a visualisation which was presented to the client. The client used this analysis to highlight potential locations for investment.

As Lex Houwaart, Data Engineer at Watson + Holmes, explains, “TravelTime’s tool has made it possible for us to create reliable catchment areas that are based on real-time data.”

travel time isochrone
Two isochrones showing reachable locations within 15 and 30-minute drive times

What are the benefits of travel time analysis for Watson + Holmes?

Previously, the Watson + Holmes team used distance-based catchment areas for their site selection analysis. This overlooks the reality that accessibility is heavily dependent on local travel options. With TravelTime, the team’s catchment areas are now defined by real-time travel data, making their analysis more true-to-life and consequently, more accurate.

Before using TravelTime, the Watson + Holmes team also had no way of layering multiple data sets, which made this type of location analysis particularly time-consuming. However, with TravelTime, Watson + Holmes can run multiple data sets simultaneously, so the analysis can be done in just a few clicks.

With the geocoder, the team can also pinpoint a huge number of addresses allowing the team to analyse entire cities and even countries.

Watson + Holmes uses TravelTime across a range of unique client projects. Whether helping clients to identify areas for investment, or understand retail catchment areas, using travel time data puts Watson + Holmes at the forefront of real estate analysis.

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