The Changing Geospatial Landscape in 2016

As the year turns, we always look forward with a sense of wonder and anticipation. What lies ahead? What can we expect to see the next year? How will the world change, and how can we adapt to that change to forge a better world? Personally, I love change. I realized this when I studied Calculus for the first time and discovered the mathematics of change. When these beautiful principles are applied to understanding how our earth changes and that we are actually active participants in shaping change, I quickly discovered that change also means growth. It means we have the chance to revolutionise. It’s an occasion to disrupt and improve. And quite simply – change means opportunity. An opportunity to influence and shape a better world.

So what does all this mean for the geospatial industry this year and for the future? I see big things happening this year following through on the progression of activities we saw last year. But specifically, three areas will be very exciting to watch as they impact and influence 2016: greater utilisation of the cloud for computing, the continued rise and innovation of UAV/UAS use, and customized information services via the Hexagon Smart M.App®.

To the Cloud: The Evolution of MApping

The history of mapmaking has taken many interesting turns. From the first hand-drawn exploration maps to the digital map with attribute data about the objects and features on the map, we have had many innovations.

As the cloud adoption increases, people want their geospatial capabilities to keep pace. This is why we cloud-enabled our flagship products, such as the Producer Online. Leveraging the power of Native as a Service (NaaS), it delivers IMAGINE Online and GeoMedia Online from the cloud to the remote system, allowing the user to work on their geospatial data locally, instead of having to upload it to the cloud.

Interestingly, some users will actually encounter the inverse problem: instead of seeking to keep their data local, they will need a better way to organise, store, save, and access their data—and they will turn to the cloud for the answer. Our cloud-based M.App Chest application can do just that. As a matter of fact, customers are already using M.App Chest to save time and simplify customer interaction. While similar to other cloud-based storage sharing devices, M.App Chest provides streaming and many delivery services as well!

Eyes in the Sky: From Microsatellites to the Proliferation of UAVs

A key criteria for success in being able to understand and shape change is the need for content that reflects activities and events on the earth’s surface as they happen. But more importantly, the key advantage will come down to the frequency and accessibility of content sources that provide a fresh snapshot of our changing landscapes and geographies. What’s awesome about the industry is the new frontier where we already see an explosion of new companies working on building and deploying hundreds of small micro-satellites into space, providing daily fresh content for any location on the earth’s surface. This will help us to better understand change – but more importantly, it allows us to deliver dynamic information services that will actually shape change. Connecting to these ‘live’ and ‘growing’ databases of content enables the next generation of geospatial applications to access and deliver information that can then be communicated and used to make decisions.

With the increasing number of UAVs and UASs in the market, organizations have access to a great source of content that allows them to operationally ‘do it themselves’. Many of these users will come from a non-geospatial background. In order to flourish their business, they will need easy, accessible, and intuitive ways to process and correct their UAS data and then provide the product to customers so they can collect, prepare, and use the content for applications and information extraction.

When talking with a number of UAV businesses, our German partner Geosystems GmbH recognised an opportunity to make life easier for these users. Their solution was to take the processing to the cloud and alleviate the operator’s need for photogrammetric expertise altogether. With GeoApp.UAS, the data collected from the mission is uploaded to the cloud, and pushed through a series of processes that not only orthocorrects the data, but also creates some value-added products such as 3D point clouds. In some cases, they can even upload the data from the field and have it fully processed by the time they get back to their office!

Design Meets Dynamic Communication: Moving Beyond Analytics to Information Services with The Hexagon Smart M.App

Historically, maps have had two shortcomings: they are static reflections of an area in the past and they abstractly communicate data about ‘where.’ This requires you to do the necessary analysis and interpretation before you get some tangible piece of information. When you are looking for answers to specific questions, you want the map to help you, but you need to quickly see patterns, behaviours and more importantly, results. In the past, this has not been easy. This is where the Hexagon Smart M.App changes the game. We, within the mapping industry, have been too focused on creating the map. There has been less attention to designing a dynamic experience that provides an ongoing information service that not only reflects what was, but what is, what can be, and what ‘should be’. To do this effectively, we need to think beyond maps and really fuse the art of design and communication with the tradecraft of mapping. And when combined within innovation technology, we can begin to experience the Map of the Future.

The Hexagon Smart M.App is the Map of the Future. Through the Smart M.App platform, we are making the technology behind our years of industry-leading software available to development partners and customers, empowering them to build cloud-based applications that harness fresh content and industry-leading analytics to provide a dynamic information experience. By making this technology available and intuitive, we empower non-geospatial business experts to tap into the power of geospatial content to answer their own, focused, specific business questions and problems.

I am also excited to announce IGNITE, the “M.App of the Future” challenge. This is your chance to build a Hexagon Smart M.App that addresses global problems with targeted solutions and win $100,000 USD. To jumpstart your Smart M.App, we are hosting global IGNITE Sessions, one-day events where Hexagon Geospatial experts and partners will gather to help you form your business plan and introduce you to the M.App Studio. We hope to discover the next geospatial superstar and give them a head start on solving some of the major world problems.

This year has a lot in store for us, both changes we have foreseen and many things that will surprise us. But what I most look forward to is creating change with you, seeing you at HxGN LIVE 2016, and finding out how you are making the world a better, more understandable, and more sustainable place- now that’s shaping smart change.

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