Check out the recording and supporting slides for the webinar Monitoring and understanding emerging geospatial technologies.
Structure of the presentation
- Drivers and trends in the geospatial sector
- Monitoring and assessing trends: from isolated studies to TTW
- Major trends and how they fit together: some examples
- Interoperability efforts and challenges: evolving architectures & standards
- Key take-away messages and conclusions
- Q&A (15’)
Summary of the webinar
The webinar on “Monitoring and understanding emerging geospatial technologies” provided an overview of the technological and non-technological trends that impact the geospatial sector today. The objective was not on all the individual trends per se but rather to provide the audience with an insight into their drivers and ways to monitor trends and maintain an overview of them and their impact on architecture and standards. The webinar was structured as follows.
First, the speakers introduced the key messages from the webinar: many technological and other trends are emerging, while others are becoming ‘mature’. It is often difficult to see the wood for the trees. There is a need for a Technology Trends Watch (TTW) to monitor and understand interconnected trends. The new developments require reviewing the ‘traditional’ Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) architectures and how standards are developed.
In the second part, the speakers explained the link between the major drivers and trends. The overview was based on discussions within the geospatial community, and the United Nations – Global Geographic Information Management (UN-GGIM) in particular:
- New data sources and analytical methods
- Technological advancements
- The evolution of user requirements
- The industrial shift and the legislative (and political) environment
Everything happens somewhere, and geospatial technology is becoming mainstream. There is a need for all people, not only experts, to directly access near real-time information. The latter will influence dramatically the way we manage and handle geospatial information in the context of the global economy.
Third, the central part of the webinar focused on the need for monitoring and assessing (technological) trends. It provided an overview of how different players do this and zoomed in on two cases. This third part started with the meaning of trends and disruptive technologies, highlighting that some trends might be there for a while, while others might appear ‘suddenly’.
Next, the reasons for monitoring trends were presented. Trend monitoring occurs in different shapes and formats: from frequent individual studies such as those from Deloitte, PWC, and Gartner to more comprehensive technology trends watches, such as one by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC). The latter case was explained in more detail by the guest speaker from OGC. The OGC and the geospatial community use the OGC TTW to decide when and how to prepare new standards and plan internal R&D.
Another example where a TTW is necessary is in the context of skills development (What are the concepts that need to be integrated into (new) curricula at universities or in vocational training initiatives?) Individual organisations and companies are also interested in this issue, as illustrated by the examples of ESA and Airbus, who have their ‘own’ technology trends watch.
The fourth section zoomed in on how the individual trends should be understood. Starting from the OGC TechTrends MindMap - see Figure 7: The Open Geospatial Consortium MindMap - two examples were given on how different trends are interconnected and can be explored to get acquainted with them and to test their applicability in (research) projects. The first example tried to understand how children behave (spatially) in traffic by making use of spatial thinking (and spatial brain), agent-based modelling, digital twins and 3D city models, as well as immersive geo (AR, VR …). The former would allow taking measures in schools and urban planning. The second example zoomed in on how big data and data analytics using Machine Learning can help process and provide answers on how refugees are moving. In this case, also IT ethics aspects were relevant.
The last (fifth) part of the webinar discussed the interoperability efforts and challenges of technological trends. The impact on architectures of ‘traditional’ SDI’s was highlighted: not only changes in the data tier, in which more dynamic data influence the way we store, manage, handle and provide access to data. Also, the application layer is affected. The latter is reflected in how standardisation itself occurs: more collaboration between standardisation bodies and emerging new standardisation initiatives are observed. The speakers raised the idea of having more experimental collaborative environments for testing, improving and implementing new technologies and trends.
Key messages and conclusions
Geospatial technology trends are influenced by different factors, including economic, legal and political drivers.
There is a clear need and interest for a consistent technology trends monitoring system that allows continuous analysis of emerging technologies, how they are interconnected and might be applied in different contexts. The fact that technology trends can evolve rapidly means that we should not wait to look into them to apply them. We can experiment with new technologies in different test environments to better understand them before implementing them.
However, the full impact of the major technology trends on geospatial technology and interoperability is not entirely clear yet and requires further investigation. From one of the polls, it became clear that there is a huge interest in specific trends such as Modelling, advanced analytics, prediction methods, and APIs for the web. Therefore, it is helpful to plan webinars on some of these topics and regularly refresh/repeat them because changes and further developments occur all the time. Another important conclusion from the discussion is that geospatial became mainstream (rather than remaining ‘special’) and that new technologies make it possible to have geospatial embedded or even part of the solutions (e.g. GeoAI).