The commercial world has undergone a revolution in its awareness of the importance of geospatial information in the past dozen years. Google Earth showed the world the importance of location information in context.
Once people got used to using digital location information for the personal lives, they realized the added efficiency and insight it could provide to the operations of their governments and their businesses. Businesses and governments now routinely
include location information in their analysis of many sorts of problems and the planning of their operations.
Location has become all pervasive
People now routinely use digital location information. Before they go shopping, they look at a digital map to find the store nearest them, then they plan their route using that digital map. They do this on their personal devices – phones, laptops, tablets – and they do it in their cars. Car navigation systems are relatively recent.
Technology costs will continue to decrease, so pace of innovation will accelerate, and geospatial data will become easier to use
Using more location information has already increased the efficiency of our transportation and travel choices. Geospatial information has always affected our real estate choices. The advent of ubiquitous, easy to access and manipulate location information has made our choices more informed. In choosing where to live, young families can easily study the transit options to work, the educational options for their children, the proximity to quality medical care, etc.
As we move to more autonomous vehicles – cars, planes, ships – the use of highly accurate and frequently updated location information will be even more critical. The Internet of Things will expand even further the use of location information. Vehicles will communicate with each other, hopefully reducing the occurrence of accidents.
More consolidation on cards
Technology costs will continue to decrease, so the pace of technological development will continue to accelerate. Geospatial information will become easier to use and more products and services will flourish. Governments, businesses and individuals will incorporate geospatial information and technology into their lives and decision-making.
Geospatial companies will continue to innovate. There will be more consolidation in the tech industry, especially in the geospatial industry. Satellite companies will combine – some of the big satellite telecommunication companies will merge, GEOs will merge with GEOs, MEOs and LEOs. In the geospatial industry, bigger companies like Rolta and Maxar will buy companies that have developed products and services because that is faster and more efficient than trying to build them themselves. Many of those consolidations will reward investors handsomely. For instance, we grew GeoEye from a value of $30 million to $1.3 billion in 10 years, and sold it to DigitalGlobe, which sold four years later to MDA, now known as Maxar.
The geospatial industry will continue to create value in many ways. It will create a lot of jobs that pay well and involve interesting work; it will create wonderful new products that make our lives easier, our countries safer and our consumption of natural resources more efficient. In doing the foregoing, some companies will generate fabulous returns for their investors.