Geospatial 4.0 seeks to seamlessly integrate geospatial services with humans in a connected world — where the Internet of things will be replaced by Internet of Everything, where ‘everything’ will include humans.
Uber, the largest cab services company in the world, owns no vehicles. Airbnb, the largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. And Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. The world is changing. And changing how!
The next wave of Industrial Revolution, which is coming to be known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is drastically changing our world. The ability of machines, devices, sensors, and people to communicate with each other is creating a different level of interoperability and connectivity. Advancements in computing and communications technologies such as 5G is only accelerated the pace of digital transformation.
In this progressively interconnected world, one of the most powerful and astute ways of exploring the physical and digital landscapes for individuals, businesses and governments is through the ‘where’ dimension. It is often said that “80% of all the data in the world has a spatial relation”. Regardless of the veracity of that statement, there is no doubt that over the last few years, the world has seen an exponential increase in the amount of spatial information. From smartphones to self-driving cars to machines that think, the sheer level of ubiquity is subsuming geospatial systems into common everyday processes.
Geospatial by Default
As location data gets ubiquitous, pervasive, and ‘by default’ in our daily living, geospatial industry is opening up its closely guarded boundaries to larger market drivers, and creating new growth opportunities, weathering through market forces and consumer behavior. A host of next-generation entrepreneurs are joining the innovation bandwagon and beginning to explore the hidden treasure of spatial thinking, empowering IT-enabled services and optimizing engineering workflows and business processes.
New trends in geospatial technologies are expected to impact multiple sectors and foster path-breaking innovation. What are these innovations and how do they impact the Geospatial-By-Default movement?
Advancements in Data Analytics: We create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. And that pace is only going to accelerate with the growth of the Internet of Things. Just to give an idea, roughly 3.7 billion people use the Internet. Google processes over 40,000 searches every second. That is 3.5 billion searches per day. And all this is data. Most of it have a location component. As Big Data gets bigger and the world gets more digitalized, businesses must become more analytics-driven to sharpen their competitive edge. As in case with all technology domains, artificial intelligence tools such as machine and deep learning will drive the next generation of applications across different fields.
Miniaturization of sensors: From bee-sized drones to mini satellites to nano GPS chips, small is becoming the new big in this connected world. Proliferation of smartphones, 24×7 power of social media, portable LiDARs for self-driving cars, innovations in 3D technologies, and GPS-powered wearable devices are making the whole world one big sensor network. As sensors get smaller and smaller, geospatial will get more and more pervasive and ubiquitous.
NewSpace Revolution: The ability of satellites to transform businesses and quality of life today is more relevant than ever. Reduced size and costs of satellites, advancements in sensors, innovative launch options, increase in the value of space-derived data and exploitation of automated processing has opened up a whole new market. Satellites as small as the chip on your phone, which may be costing as little as $2,000, are today sending terabytes of imageries from space. This is enabling a host of AI-driven applications that provide valuable insights into global-scale economic, social and industrial processes. This phenomenon, which is coming to be known as “democratization of space”, essentially implies that more and diverse people and/or organizations are participating in the industry.
Also Read: Major Geospatial technology trends for 2019
Maps for machines: Use of digital maps in navigation devices and mobiles are a passe now. More so, because these maps were simple, and primarily meant for humans, who can understand simple instructions as they navigate. As we move into an increasingly digitized and automated world, there is an acute need high-precision maps that are now being designed keeping in mind the human-machine and machine-machine interfaces. These maps also serve as digital infrastructure for safe, efficient and reliable automation across a spectrum of verticals. However, the cost incurred in creating these high-definition maps is a big challenge since such high amounts of data can’t be sent on existing mobile networks. The launch of 5G technologies is expected to address this issue.
Automation: As the world moves towards complete automation, we will see geospatial becoming a key component of this transformation. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will see a seamless integration of humans and machines and from piecewise automation to full-fledged automation, something Hexagon President and CEO Ola Rollen calls “evolution from automation to autonomy”. Geospatial 4.0 seeks to seamlessly integrate geospatial services with humans in a connected world — where the Internet of things will be replaced by Internet of Everything, where ‘everything’ will include humans.
The way forward
In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, geospatial is not just about location. It is more about how the ongoing information revolution will affect human beings and the Planet we call home. The ‘Geospatial Way’ is the future and probably the most efficient and effective way to collect, process and utilize information in the overall global development agenda.
Geospatial information helps to identify, understand and contextualize challenges the world is facing today. Integrated geospatial information framework and readiness have direct co-relation with human development and quality of life. The Countries Geospatial Readiness Index has clearly indicated that nations which have better geospatial institutional infrastructure and policies, are also advanced in almost every walk of socio-economic activities, furthering their programs of sustainable development.
While recognizing that the world economy runs on location-based services and data is the new oil, it is equally important to develop partnership models towards the adoption of geospatial knowledge in making the Sustainable Development Goals a reality. In our quest to leave no one behind, it is pre-requisite to work with everyone with an approach of mutual trust, respect, and gains.
Note: This was originally published in the July edition of CIO Review India.