No doubt there's few things computer like more than reporting and data analysis. I deployed a few well known technologies to achieve some interesting results in this field. These are: PHP, Macromedia/Adobe Flash, SVG, MySQL, PDF.
Little more the web offers nowadays, doesn't it.
According to redNet Consulting specifications, I made a custom poll system. It collects data on residential market. Among common question types, users can draw areas of preference online, on maps served by the system. The answers are processed real-time and are reportable with cross-queries of a custom built report system. Virtually each question may be matched with others, to produce unique slices of the market data.
In second row on the picture above shows the processing of data. First the user drawn shapes are stacked to produce a grayscale image. Then the image is put onto a map (source: MapInfo Poland) and transformed to a gradient hot-cold preferences map. Or it can be processed by renderer like POV-Ray to show a 3d view of the data.
The system is dead cost effective. The user interface lacks obviously a lot of friendliness, but still - it is competitive to eg. one offered by GfK. Everything can be processed online and real-time. There are conditions, different poll paths and sets, answer validation and custom messages. Q/A list is done in MS Excel, and exported to PHP scripts. JPG maps are supported, with a simple descriptive text file. Areas of preference are collected as geocoded polylines. No special experience is required for the poll collectors, we usually explain all tricks within 30 minutes.