Change is the only constant – though an old adage, is quite relevant in the present context. In the backdrop of economic gloom and audacity of hope, it is important to take stock of where we stand, count our blessings and assess the challenges. GIS Development spoke to several geospatial industry leaders, decision makers and academicians to gain an objective understanding of the dynamics of change vis-à-vis the dimensions of geospatial content, convergence of technologies, impact of global economic slowdown, growing markets, potential geospatial verticals and the challenges that lay ahead for the industry. Each of the sections of the article discusses elaborately the current and future expectations from the geospatial market. Geospatial Industry
Expanding dimensions of geospatial content
Evolution is a human instinct. Be it anthropological, intellectual or scientific, man's craving for a better tomorrow remains unsatiated. The science which found its roots in understanding the earth and its resources has now evolved into being an omnipotent technology tool capable of redefining the contours of the world.
Geospatial technology initially focussed on collecting information through cartographic means to create a 2D map to depict the length and breadth of the land, its resources and national and international boundaries for administrative tasks. On the one hand, we have moved from digitising analogue maps to creating original digital data for specific uses and then on to creating generic data that can be used for a range of different applications. On the other hand, in the last one hundred years, the introduction of aerial imaging technologies has changed the face of cartography dramatically. Today, there is a glut of data in general and specifically, there is a broad range of remotely sensed high resolution data available. While traditional electro optical sources on board satellites are delivering data with a resolution of about half a meter, radar data produces resolutions of about one meter. With airborne systems, optical resolutions of 10 cm are being achieved.
"Clearly these resolution changes improved the ability to map features which have traditionally required ground based surveying techniques," says Brad Skelton, CTO, ERDAS. Concurring with him, BVR Mohan Reddy, CMD, Infotech Enterprises, says availability of high resolution data has practically demystified the map making processes and feature extraction from ortho-rectified high resolution satellite Change is the only constant – though an old adage, is quite relevant in the present context. In the backdrop of economic gloom and audacity of hope, it is important to take stock of where we stand, count our blessings and assess the challenges. GIS Development spoke to several geospatial industry leaders, decision makers and academicians to gain an objective understanding of the dynamics of change vis-à-vis the dimensions of geospatial content, convergence of technologies, impact of global economic slowdown, growing markets, potential geospatial verticals and the challenges that lay ahead for the industry. Each of the sections of the article discusses elaborately the current and future expectations from the geospatial market.
|Availability of high resolution data has practically demystified the map making processes
BVR Mohan Reddy
imagery (HRSI) is gaining ground rapidly, reducing reliance on field-based operations. Talking about the accuracy of data, we can't but acknowledge the explosive innovation in acquiring precise geospatial information. The unanimous choice of all industry leaders for achieving precision is the use of laser scanning and mobile mapping technologies. Advocating laser scanning, Matt Ball, Editor, Vector 1 Media, says, "This is one technology that will quickly revolutionise surveying." Asserting that laser scanning technology is growing at a rapid pace and that the market for the same will double in the next two years quoting Spar Research report, Lisa Campbell, Vice-President, Autodesk, says, "Ultimately, the growing level of detail will serve to enhance the resulting analyses and, in particular, help create very accurate visual models of the infrastructure and the world around us." In this context, Don Corswell, President, Optech, points out that the complementarity of mobile and air borne mapping has turned out to be really fruitful. There are places where conducting air-borne survey becomes difficult, such as cities. The datasets obtained as a result of using a combination of both these technologies gives fantastic resolution on all aspects of the city, he argues. However, security restrictions and government permissions will limit their adoption for some time, feels BVR Mohan Reddy. Once these restrictions are relaxed and procedures streamlined, end-users will be able to exercise judicious choice between available technologies, resulting in better return on investment (ROI), he opines.
Auguring a good demand for such technologies, Ed Parsons, CTO, Google Earth says, "There is huge potential for information products produced from the automated combination of aerial and terrestrial sensing, here LIDAR in particular has an important part to play in creating 3D city models." After the accuracy and resolution of data are take care of by innovative sensor technologies, its currency has gained priority in the context of rapidly changing urban façade. Prof Josef Strobl of Salzburg University says, "Increasingly, we need to not only support mapping tasks, but primarily monitoring assignment. This means that multi- temporal or quasi-continuous flows of data are the foundation of change detection and triggering of database events." Today, we don't just collect data in two dimensions. The geospatial content is primarily moving from 2D to 3D and 4D and also we have been able to understand how architectural drawings or civil engineering data could form part of geospatial composition.
|Resolution changes improved the ability to map features which have traditionally required ground based surveying techniques
Drawing from these sentiments, Matt Ball says, "The quick and automated capture of 3D city data from mobile platforms are adding a great deal of realism and currency to geospatial exploration systems. The utility of these realistic environments will only increase and it's just a matter of time before our urban areas are accurately captured on an ongoing basis at a high degree of digital reality." Bringing out the importance of these realistic environments and the inclusion of indoor content, Mark Reichart, President and CEO, OGC, says, "It is now important to provide a level of detail about the indoor environment commensurate with our growing digital connection to the outdoor environment. Indoor location technologies are only now emerging, but I believe this will be a major 'next generation' trend for the community – providing comprehensive indoor 'geospatial' services for a range of indoor needs". Collectively, all these advancements are fuelling an appetite for more and better geospatial information.