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Digitization of geospatial data, easy accessibility has taken the industry to masses — Nigel Clifford, Ordnance Survey

Digitization of geospatial data
Nigel Clifford CEO, Ordnance Survey, UK

The geospatial industry is experiencing more of an accelerating evolution as we react and respond to new and emerging technologies and the different demands and opportunities these bring.  With the emergence of technologies that have the potential to transform our world and the way we live and do business, I feel we are on the verge of something special. It will be a data-driven world where place is the common factor, which is going to be core to getting value from connected data. Location is one of the pillars of everything — everything happens somewhere. It is a critical ‘golden thread’ allowing many different datasets concerning a single location to be combined and create more value. In times to come, global citizens will benefit in many ways from these technology transformations. –

Taking geospatial to masses

Digitization of geospatial data and serving it in easy access formats so that users can obtain its value through a computer or mobile phone with just a click of a button has been transformational in taking our industry to ‘the masses’. Ordnance Survey was possibly the first national mapping agency to digitize its database, and the benefits of this felt by ourselves and customers has been huge. Today Great Britain has a ‘one true digital source’ for all its geospatial information to operate from, which other government agencies and businesses can confidently use. A consequence of this is how geospatial data use has increased, and in turn has unlocked a hunger for more detailed micro-geography, which in turn will act as fuel for the digital economy and will help our industry to grow and continue developing.

We are on the verge of something special. It will be a data-driven world where place is the common factor, which is going to be core to getting value from connected data.

OS has done a lot of work internationally that involves creating strategies and frameworks, data management, data modelling and special data infrastructure. Our approach is customer focused and entrepreneurial, and the offering is always expanding as we continue collaborating on ground-breaking Smart Cities, IoT, Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) and 5G projects. It is interesting, because many of these projects are becoming the catalyst for geospatial data.

Opportunities galore

The technology world is embracing geo. These are exciting times, but we need more collaboration between the industry on standards and how we can influence tech and emerging markets. We must not forget developing nations and how the community can assist in bringing geo to ‘lift many boats’ in local economies and hasten delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Going forward, I think our focus should be on defining the standards for a safe, functioning ‘connected world’, further experimentation with ‘digital twins’, operating with greater levels of detail and with live or near live data feeds, and an increased emphasis on micro-geography.

I see all the transformations and changes as an opportunity for our industry. And it is something that as an organization we are very proud to have initiated long before ‘innovation’ became one of the current buzzwords in our industry — right back to the original Ramsden theodolite in the 18 century!