Maptitude for Redistricting may not be a household name, but it is dominant in the niche market of redistricting software and is used to literally shape the political landscape. Its client roster features a majority of state legislatures, two national party committees and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, plus the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, which was upheld in a Supreme Court decision last month. Caliper Corporation President Howard Slavin credited Maptitude for Redistrictring’s dominance in part to its simplicity and effectiveness. “You can be productive and it doesn’t require you to be an expert user of the software,” Slavin said. “You have a good product when you know it’s simple enough for a politician to use it.” But the software’s dominance in the redistricting market happened almost by accident. “We just sort of fell into it, it wasn’t part of any grand plan or scheme,” Slavin said.
Caliper provides a variety of services, mainly focusing on transportation. In the late 1980s, Slavin said the company saw an opening to sell its mapping services to groups that couldn’t afford the $500,000 to $1 million price tag that redistricting software was selling for at the time.
The original plan was just to sell the company’s generic mapping software until the company realized “serious redistricters” needed more. Among the earliest customers were the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, who wanted to use the software as a way to check against biased redistricting.
Full Article: The Software That Literally Draws the Political Landscape.