Silverlight and Bing Maps at Grubb & Ellis

image Today is a time in history where there are more economic factors disrupting the real estate market and operations than ever before. To mitigate this trend and ensure real estate and financial professionals have all the information necessary to make critical decisions, more and more data is being provided to help improve business intelligence. However, this resulted in creating mountains of charts, graphs and documents that need to be reviewed from multiple systems, in order to present a clear perspective of assets, locations, and their operations. This sheer volume of information adds significant overhead to the users and professionals that depend on them.

To address this issue, Grubb & Ellis Company worked with Microsoft and speakTECH, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, leveraging Microsoft Silverlight and Bing Maps for Enterprise, to create a new tool called Spotlight.

Spotlight is a real estate and research mapping tool which provides a rich data visualization and interaction environment for an array of property, location, operations and research information. The layering of a massive amount of data at Grubb & Ellis, over a rich interface, allows clients and professionals at Grubb & Ellis to search, review and collaborate regarding real estates across the globe, in a streamlined and easily accessible manner.

Examples of this type of intelligent data layering are:

  • Property Level Statistics and Analysis
  • Aerial Mapping Tool
  • Market / Sub-Market Analytics
  • Competitive / Market Analysis
  • Parcel and Other Associated Statistics
  • Demographic Statistics
  • Economic Development Zones

High definition video of transaction professionals and virtual building tours using Microsoft Photosynth, where available, are also accessible through a single click of the mouse, providing users with unparalleled insight into the information.

A few screen shots of the Spotlight application are shown here:

Main Search and Summary Screen


Property Detail and Business Intelligence Details


Broker Profiles and Property Tours in High Definition


The Spotlight application was completed in just 12 weeks, including significant work on the back-end to integrate data sources and providing them as services.

“The combination of Bing Maps and Sliverlight, has enabled speakTECH to merge the large volumes of structured data with rich interactive maps to create an entirely new generation of applications. These capabilities have enabled Grubb & Ellis to combine time consuming research and analysis tasks that used to spread across many applications, into an single user experience.   Enabling rapid decision support, supports the accelerating needs of today’s sales and marketing teams” Aaron Sloman, CEO, speakTech.

Components from the Microsoft platform used in this project include:

  • Silverlight SDK
  • Photosynth Silverlight Control
  • Bing Maps (Virtual Earth) Silverlight Map Control
  • Bing Maps for Enterprise
  • Expression Studio
  • Visual Studio 2008
  • .NET Framework 3.5 SP1, Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), ASP.NET
  • Internet Information Services 7.0 (IIS)
  • SQL Server 2005
  • Windows Server 2008

Application Scenario

This project is a nice case study of how multiple enterprise resources managed in an on-premise data center can be mashed up with cloud-based services on the Web, to deliver intuitive and easy-to-use services for end users, at a fraction of the cost of developing a new Web portal from the ground up. This project also exemplifies how RIA technologies, and in this case, Silverlight, can be used effectively to create a very sophisticated data visualization and interaction layer. The data layered on top of Bing Maps for Enterprise (Virtual Earth) are not just mere pushpins and polygons; they are really complicated and inter-related data sets managed in separate enterprise data stores. And the sophisticated controls made available users allow them to drill in on various details and create specific views to support various business needs.

Also note that this project took just 3 months to deliver into production. Comparatively, an implementation using HTML and AJAX alone would've taken at least twice as long, by the team's assessment.

About Grubb & Ellis

Grubb & Ellis Company (NYSE: GBE) is one of the largest and most respected commercial real estate services and investment companies in the world. Over 6,000 professionals in more than 130 company-owned and affiliate offices draw from a unique platform of real estate services, practice groups and investment products to deliver comprehensive, integrated solutions to real estate owners, tenants and investors. The firm’s transaction, management, consulting and investment services are supported by highly regarded proprietary market research and extensive local expertise.

About speakTECH

speakTECH is an interactive design and solution integration firm delivering innovative solutions in the areas of Web-Based, Enterprise wide collaboration and Social Computing. We specialize in uniting technology, riveting design and interactive experience into powerful, world-class business solutions. Established in 2005, speakTECH has grown to become a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, National Systems Integrator, and has been honored with numerous design awards.