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”RoI important for spreading g-tech benefits across sectors”

Rotterdam, The Netherlands: The geospatial industry sees huge opportunities in the construction sector as the latter evolves from a highly labour driven sector to a technology driven ones. With huge scope to improve on lost man-hours and work corrections, construction managers are seeing increasing value proposition in geospatial technology, said Chris Gibson, Senior Vice President, Trimble.

Gibson, who was speaking at the preconference meet of the Geospatial World Forum (GWF) in Rotterdam, also highlighted how the technology is helping various sectors. More significantly, keeping with the theme of the GWF – ‘monetising geospatial value proposition’ – Gibson, as well as other speakers, highlighted the return on investment (RoI) of geospatial technology for various businesses and government agencies.

The four-day Geospatial World Forum opens here on Monday and will be addressed by top geospatial professionals as well as senior executives of user industries from across the world.

Maintaining that calculating RoI is very important for industry managers to adopt this technology, who often tend to shy away owing to significant upfront investments and lack of knowledge, the speakers also highlighted that some benefits cannot be calculated in terms of money. For instance, Gibson gave the example of a section of the Turkish government irrigation canal project which was completed two years ahead of time using geospatial technology. While this saved a huge amount of money for the government, which was scheduled to be spent on the project, there were also significant benefits on environment and agriculture front, which are difficult to calculate in this case.

A majority of the speakers were of the opinion that GIT benefits are difficult to compute since the applications were complex, expensive and required significant upfront investment but took years to achieve the full benefits. Also, in most cases, funding managers have to give go ahead for such investments without fully understanding the domain and the benefits. To make matters worse, GIT professionals implementing such projects often lacked the financial knowledge or acumen to calculate the return on investment, they said.

Mark Reichardt, President and CEO, Open Geospatial Consortium, highlighted the importance of standards. Reichardt, who started off his address with the line “RoI of location is interoperability”, could immediately attract attention of the delegates as he explained how standards saved time and reduced costs, as it applied a uniform process to all data before it goes into the system. “s long as there are open standards, they can more easily be integrated with other systems,” he said, while pointing out that a study has found that for Germany alone, open standards has led to a benefit of 17 billion euro in 2010.
Reichardt also stressed on mobile as the future as he pointed to the growth in mobile and smartphone numbers across the world. He said the OGC is actively working on open standards for mobile technology and has developed open geo SMS for emergency requirement in commercial applications.

Among the speakers, Greg Baninsky, KCGIS Centre Project Manager, Kings County, USA, highlighted how it was so difficult for his department to do a study on RoI of GIS implementation for the county. The department wanted the study to ask for funds for expanding its GIS project and in the absence of any dedicated, qualified analytics consultant who understood the benefits of such a technology, the department faced numerous challenges in getting such a study done. However, once the study was done it showed that over the 18 years since GIS was first implemented by the department, Kings County has realised $775 million in benefits while it broke even in seven and half years.

The other speakers were also from various utilities and city management agencies who presented interesting case studies on how their departments had used GIS to realise savings in terms of cost and time.

Source: Our Correspondent

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