Company Plans To Database, Photograph Every Non-Residential Structure in U.S.
CoStar Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: CSGP
), has dispatched 42 field research photographers to begin collecting data and photographing properties in 21 planned U.S. expansion markets.
The planned expansion markets include Birmingham, AL; Tucson, AZ; Hartford, CT; Naples, FL; Western Michigan; Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN; Las Vegas, NV; Greensboro/Winston Salem, NC; Toledo, OH; Tulsa and Oklahoma City, OK; Providence, RI; Greenville/Spartanburg, SC; Memphis and Nashville, TN; San Antonio, TX; Salt Lake City, UT; Hampton Roads and Richmond, VA; Milwaukee and Madison, WI.
CoStar Group maintains the largest researched database of commercial properties in the United States and the United Kingdom, and currently tracks more than 28 billion square feet of office, industrial, retail properties and land.
The CoStar database is supported by the industry's largest professional research organization. The company currently has approximately 600 trained researchers, including a field research force with over 120 research photographers and a fleet of 75 specially equipped field research vehicles. The company expects to deploy another 20 field researchers in July.
"When it comes to building the industry's most comprehensive commercial real estate database, nothing takes the place of meticulous hard work in the field," said CoStar Group President & CEO Andrew C. Florance. "CoStar invests more than $60 million annually in research, and a substantial part of that budget is invested to assist our efforts to drive every street and inspect every building so that our customers never miss an opportunity."
CoStar performs extensive field research to build the initial database, photograph properties and analyze local market conditions when it enters a new market. The company has developed sophisticated technology and processes consistent with its goal of covering every commercial property greater than 3,000 square feet in its coverage area. As part of an aggressive expansion program, the company expects to collect data on and photograph every non-residential structure in the U.S. over the next five to 10 years.
Working in two-person teams, the CoStar field researchers drive custom-designed vehicles equipped with computers, proprietary GPS tracking software integrated with high-resolution satellite aerial images, wireless technology to transmit and receive data, 11 mega-pixel digital cameras and handheld laser instruments to help precisely measure buildings, geo-code them and position them on digital maps. Once fully outfitted, each new vehicle costs approximately $150,000 and serves as a hi-tech mobile office.
Each market is divided into hundreds of half-mile grids, and each team works one grid at a time to collect all relevant data. As researchers travel through a grid, they can view their precise locations on an overhead satellite aerial down to which parking space they are in. Researchers can overlay "digital breadcrumbs" on the aerials for pinpointing areas in their grids to investigate. The company expects the specialized data collection methodology to enable field researchers to capture details on every building, every available space and every new leasing sign that goes up.
Before deployment to their home markets, approximately 60 CoStar field researchers and managers participated in an intensive training/collection exercise in Richmond, VA, one of the company's first expansion markets. A brief video clip of CoStar's field research teams in action is available at: http://www.costar.com/FieldResearch