Thursday, January 9, 2014

Navigating Grocery Stores for Smarter Food Choices: Spatial Relationships at HEB

Kavita Singh, Economics and Business Department

Our modern-day grocery stores present a plethora of options that range from the scientific to the raw and delicious, and many marketing tactics are carefully designed to direct our senses to options and aisles that these stores think will appeal to us. Incorporating the ideas of smart and targeted shopping with spatial relationships within a grocery store, this project uses the indoor mapping feature of Google Map Maker to map aisles of food in our local HEB to geographically plot foods that fall under a certain desired category (i.e. certified organic, no GMO, gluten-free). Knowledge of Geographic Information Science (GISc) is essential to understanding spatial relationships, and this new and innovative Google tool is a modern development that has added greatly to the field of GISc. The maps are open to editing and review by anyone and have been used to define roads and places in dozens of countries, but very little development has taken place on the kind of hyper-local level that takes place within a grocery store. Going through the ingredient lists of a number of items located in an aisle and putting these various items into categories will help to plot these targeted characteristics spatially within the aisle. The wide variety of items available at grocery stores today is an apparent fact, but hopefully this project will open doors as to how spatial relationships can make a trip to the grocery store more exciting, convenient and eye opening.

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