Data plays a number of roles in effective economic development. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs – in partnership with Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) – has offered Ontario’s economic development community access to a full range of data to support regional analysis, strategic planning, and monitoring in a free, user-friendly tool called ‘Analyst’ since 2013. EMSI has recently developed a new version of that flagship tool to improve the user’s ability to find, assess, and report on regional economic data. Improvements focus on five key areas:
Workflow – The new Analyst uses four “task cards” on its front page, aimed at quickly connecting users to the data they are looking for. New users can then create reports. Previous users have access to the reports they are familiar with (e.g. Industry Overviews, Staffing Patterns), as well as a set of new reports producing commonly searched data (e.g. highest ranked industries, regional comparisons).
Search Capabilities – A more powerful search function allows for improved intuitive movement through reports, regions, industries/occupations, and educational programs by keyword. Searching for generic terms like “electrician” provides a list of matching occupations, lists of industries that employ electricians, and key programs that train them.
Tables – A number of improvements have been made to the tables in Analyst – making them faster to load and easier to read. More column options have been added, with the addition of columns, arrangement of columns, and layering of filters made easier as well.
Mapping – Analyst has an updated look and functionality for the mapping feature. The most visible change is the shift of EMSI’s mapping tools to the more familiar Google Maps engine, which will allow for easier location-based analysis and map production. New map style options range from a traditional Google map and satellite map, to a more minimal style (shown below) with fewer roads and landmarks.
Groups – The new Analyst’s group management system allows for easier creation, editing, and sharing of industry, occupation, location, and now, program (formerly only custom profiles) groups among users. Further, any group can now be saved from within an options pane.
Existing or previous users will find the new Analyst more intuitive, hopefully connecting them to the data they need in an easier way. New users will benefit from the fact that Analyst now starts with a list of options, rather than a wall of data. The new Analyst introduces the emsi Knowledge Base, which offers a range of general support for the tool for all users.
For more detailed information, the Economic Development Analysis Resources Team and the network of advisors at OMAFRA and MNDM, are always available to help with assistance ranging from data provision and guidance on the tool, to information on accessing it. Click for more information on Analyst. Look for the shift to new Analyst in the next several weeks.