Geospatial information and technologies now underpin decision-making within businesses, governments, and society worldwide. The transformation of the geospatial industry over the past few decades has been dramatic with today’s disruptive technology advancements further hastening the pace of change. The ubiquitous and near real-time generation and application of information from billions of location-aware devices operating in our digital society is rapidly making universal location context the norm. The ability of businesses, governments, citizens, and consumers to access and leverage the ‘significance of place’ is not just assumed — it’s expected.
Ushering a disruptive change
Clearly, the momentum is building rapidly for government and business sectors to apply location to better understand their customers’ needs and to drive mission efficiency. Major business sectors are embracing location information and technology as essential for mission success. The Insurance sector, for example, is leveraging geospatial information to better understand and assess policy risk and to respond responsibly to policyholders when losses occur. Further, with the proliferation of web-accessible Earth Observation platforms overhead and in-situ, and mobile sensor and Internet-Of-Things (IoT) devices observing our environment, there is great potential for the insurance industry to further improve policy value and risk reduction by augmenting actuarial data with customized analytics relevant to the policyholder and their location.
Along with IoT, advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence; augmented & virtual reality; modeling, forecasting & prediction; and connected & autonomous vehicles are all on the forefront of disruptive change. As these and other trends are addressed by the technology community and implemented for the benefit of businesses, governments, and citizens, we must also place equal emphasis on addressing key challenges, such as a lack of technology interoperability, concerns about data privacy and ownership, and cybersecurity risks, if we are to assure the quality and reliability of future products and services.
Open standards and effective policies
The advancement and availability of timely and effective open standards, along with effective policies that support their broad operational use, will be major factors in assuring the ability to rapidly and efficiently mobilize and integrate new and emerging technologies, information sources, and workflows into systems and enterprises. Considering today’s rapid pace of technological change, OGC is working closely with an expanding list of partner programs, associations, Consortia and Standards Development Organizations, such as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the buildingSMART Alliance, and various technical committees within ISO, IEEE and ITU. These alliances enable OGC to assure that location is consistently represented throughout the IT standards stack, to affirm that standards work remains well coordinated, and to broaden our collective ability to help different user communities benefit from the standards and related best practices that OGC and its partners produce.
I am consistently impressed with the advancements that the geospatial industry achieves, and I am equally excited at the opportunities ahead for continued adoption of geospatial technologies across new industries and governments worldwide. With an understanding that much more work lies ahead, we as an industry should be proud of the contributions that our work is making to improve governance, business, and citizen value.