A support system that delineates location-choice sets for firms seeking office space

Factors influencing the location decisions of offices include traffic, accessibility, employment conditions, economic prospects and land-use policies. Hence tools for supporting real-estate managers and urban planners in such multidimensional decisions may be useful. Accordingly, the objective of this study is to develop a GIS-based tool to support firms who seek office accommodation within a given regional or national study area. The tool relies on a matching approach, in which a firm's characteristics (demand) on the one hand, and environmental conditions and available office spaces (supply) on the other, are analyzed separately in a first step, after which a match is sought. That is, a suitability score is obtained for every firm and for every available office space by applying some value judgments (satisfaction, utility etc.). The latter are powered by a focus on location aspects and expert knowledge about the location decisions of firms/organizations with respect to office accommodation as acquired from a group of real-estate advisers; it is stored in decision tables, and they constitute the core of the model. Apart from the delineation of choice sets for any firm seeking a location, the tool supports two additional types of queries. Firstly, it supports the more generic problem of optimally allocating firms to a set of vacant locations. Secondly, the tool allows users to find firms which meet the characteristics of any given location. Moreover, as a GIS-based tool, its results can be visualized using GIS features which, in turn, facilitate several types of analyses.