We live in a data-driven world and geospatial data is critical to our most vital industries. The proliferation of geospatial technologies has raised awareness while accelerating the development of applications for user-based needs.
In times to come, as the accuracy and accessibility of the location data increases, its cost will come down as it meets the ‘Sharing Economy’, and its impact on businesses and governments will be profound. The impact will be an increase in safety for people everywhere, greater efficiency and productivity, and more sustainable business and agricultural practices. In a few years, we will be looking at governments and industries and wondering how they ever succeeded without fully leveraging this type of information!
Location data is a critical contributor to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and technologies which will play a prominent part are autonomous X (automobiles, industrial vehicles, public transportation, UAVs, marine); edge computing; advanced analytics (AI, machine learning, advanced algorithms), and visualization technologies.
The geospatial industry needs to evolve with the industries it serves and create new applications. The rate of change is accelerating more rapidly than ever before, we need to look over the horizon and see the challenges — and solutions — before they are upon us. We need to do a better job at educating users of the potential of technology, and moving new solutions from the lab to the field. Everything happens in time and space — a car moves through an intersection, an earthquake shakes the foundations of a city, a purchase is made from a market — each has a location, from which we can glean analytics and insights to navigate from what is, the status quo, to what should be, a future that is better.
Staying ahead of the curve
Rather than ‘tuning’ ourselves to be in sync with trends, at Hexagon, our aim is to be the industry disrupter and to lead these trends. We have deliberately built upon a legacy of leadership in the geospatial industry, complementing our sensor domain expertise with enabling technologies that put data to work to do its greatest good.
Our R&D efforts, in conjunction with our acquisition strategy, have focused on investing in technologies that will bring about the digital transformation of vital industries and governments, empowering them to see the ‘complete picture’ and to develop enabling platforms.
At Hexagon, we call this approach SMART X — whether it is mining, manufacturing, oil and gas, defense, construction, agriculture or smart cities. SMART X solutions are a bold approach aimed at solving the most challenging problems of the 21st century — how to make our cities safe; how to sustainably farm and feed a fast-growing population; how to make refineries more efficient; how to mine responsibly and manufacture products faster, with less waste and higher quality.
As the accuracy and accessibility of the location data increases, its cost will come down
In each case, the X is what we solve for, and X always equals a Smart Digital Reality. A Smart Digital Reality is much bigger than the digital twin and the Fourth Industrial Revolution driven by the Industrial IoT. Geospatial technologies are key to achieving a Smart Digital Reality.
SMART X Solutions are unique in that they are digital first. By this we mean intelligent industry-specific ecosystems — systems of systems. They work by integrating sensors and data with our enabling technologies and platforms to capture the entire ecosystem digitally. This provides access to the big picture which includes all physical assets — for instance, all the buildings and infrastructure of a city in perfect 3D reality, or every single part of an oil refinery, down to the last bolt. It also includes the terrain, the environment, documents, workflows; everything is digitalized.
Additionally, SMART X Solutions are completely connected. Unlike Smart 3D reality, or the digital twin, a Smart Digital Reality captures events as they happen in real-time and fuse that live data to a complete reality capture.
The result is a digital transformation of inefficient systems into smart, 5D digital realities, with real-time fusion of multisource content, including location-based data, advanced analytics and powerful visualization that simplifies the understanding of complex Big Data.
I am a technological optimist. My outlook for the next three to five years is one of accelerating disruption, and a marked improvement in our most vital industries. There is more data and intelligence in the world today than there has ever been — and human ingenuity is our single inexhaustible resource. Historically, mankind has always invented its way out of problems and constraints, and I don’t see that changing — quite the opposite — I see that accelerating.
The so-called 4IR is distinguished by the way it builds from a confluence of technologies, and from evolving harmonization and integration of R&D efforts. Nearly every new development in any field now leverages digital capability.
In the next three to five years, advances in sensors will enable Autonomous X, systems that enable us to understand and respond better to every change in the environment, and to engage in a broader variety of tasks. Computing will be pushed to the edge of the network, and connect with the Cloud to exchange information and learn collectively.
I expect the Smart Digital Reality to become a reality, and I expect populations to be safer, products better and the businesses that adopt these new capabilities to have a competitive advantage.
Along with these breakthroughs, there will be winners and losers. Those companies and governments that engage, adopt and adapt most quickly will excel and those who will fall behind may disappear.