Geo Insights and Key Trends for 2023
A year ago, we published 'Geo Insights and Key Trends for 2022'. Twelve months on, we believe the majority of our predictions came true. So what do we think the key trends for the next twelve months might be?
5cm CityView aerial image, The Bull Ring, Birmingham 2023
Last year, we forecast that we would continue to see the rise in importance of geospatial data, as more and more organisations seek to unlock the power of location-based data to provide solutions to the challenges they are facing. That has certainly come to pass – here at Getmapping, for example, we are seeing more and more companies innovating using geospatial data to increase efficiencies, generate new products and services and address some of the issues we are facing as a society.
For 2023, our prediction is that this growth in the adoption of geospatial as a key technology enabler will continue at pace, but accelerated by the addition of other technology enablers alongside it – especially of course Artificial Intelligence.
The Top Five for 2023
So how many of our key trends for 2022 are still in the top five for 2023? We think that “Currency”, “Resolution” and “Solutions not Data” will continue to be as important to users in 2023 as they have been over the last twelve months.
But we now think that two of our 2022 selections – “Digital Twins” and “The Rise of 3D” - have been overtaken by Artificial Intelligence and the Proliferation of Geospatial Platforms as key trends which are gaining traction at a rapid pace.
So our Five Key Trends for 2023 are:
An obvious winner - you can’t go far these days without hearing or reading about the rise of AI, fuelled in part of course by the explosion onto the market of ChatGPT. It is actually quite astonishing how far AI has come in the last twelve months.
At Getmapping, we’ve been talking for a while now about how Geospatial data and solutions need to be considered as a key technology enabler in their own right, alongside other enablers such as AI, VR/AR and IoT. The combination of AI and geospatial data is rapidly becoming a powerful technology enabler that can unlock a wide range of information and ‘insight on demand’ services across organisations.
So expect to see an explosion of applications and use cases from the combination of the two over the next twelve months!
As last year, Currency continues to be a key requirement for geospatial users, and the demand for more and more current (and in some cases even real-time) data is still increasing at pace.
However, cost is still a barrier for many users, who cannot afford to commission bespoke surveys to get the most current data, or have a need for nationwide content that simply cannot be captured contemporaneously.
In response, we have seen more and more companies developing annual content programs to enable users to access up to date data on demand. At Getmapping for example, we recently launched our CityView 5cm content program, to provide users with access to imagery of towns and cities across the UK updated every year. This follows the trend towards regularly updated data for metros that we are already seeing in the US and Australia.
As for 2022, imagery resolution is still a critical consideration for our growing range of geospatial users, and it is no surprise that we have seen a proliferation of new high-resolution content over the last twelve months. Countries such as the US and Australia have led the way in creating city-based high resolution content programs, and companies such as Getmapping and Geosense are now hot on their heels, launching new 5cm content programs in the UK and South Africa respectively for 2023.
5cm CityView aerial image, Sage, Gateshead, 2023
But it is not just aerial programs that are striving to deliver higher resolution. It is also noticeable that satellite imagery providers are also starting to go the same way. The recent announcement by EOI Space that they are launching a series of low-altitude satellites to deliver 15cm imagery is a significant step change for the space imaging industry. Even if it will be a few years yet before they have the full constellation in place, the move to delivering higher resolution data from a low Earth orbit is a potential game-changer for those needing to access global content, and for delivering near real time data simultaneously.
Solutions not data
Last year, we spoke about the rise of the geospatial immigrant – new users of geospatial data who are starting to learn how to unlock value from it as a key technology enabler across a wide range of industries. We spoke about how Geospatial immigrants are generally not that interested in how geospatial data is created per se, but are more interested in what it can do for them.
This is as relevant today as it was twelve months ago, and to continue to support this, the industry needs to ensure two things. Firstly, that users are getting the right data for their needs, and secondly that they are able to access it in the way they want.
This in turn requires geospatial companies to pivot from delivering products and services to delivering solutions to this new type of customer.
These solutions have been evolving at pace over the last twelve months, and this is a trend we only see increasing through 2023 and beyond, as more and more organisations recognise the value that geospatial data and services can deliver for them, both in efficiency savings, and in helping them develop new products and services.
As an example, by far and away the largest growth area for Getmapping over the last twelve months has been in emerging markets, and it is a very different engagement to the old product and service driven process. Increasingly, we now find ourselves sitting in the room with our clients, discussing their challenges and opportunities, and working together to design a solution that works for them.
The days of selling what you have are rapidly disappearing. Today, it is all about understanding your customers and delivering what they need. I strongly suspect “partnering to win” to feature in the 2024 edition!
The Platform Explosion
As the demand for geospatial data continues to rise rapidly, more and more companies are waking up to the value of making geospatial data more easily accessible to the growing number of organisations that want to leverage the intelligence and insight that it provides. Many of these providers are looking to develop platforms to make accessibility to their geospatial data and solutions easier.
Example of Getmapping's SmartView platform:
aerial imagery, street level imagery and point cloud data visualised on one screen
Geospatial platforms may once have been the preserve of the major players in the industry such as ESRI and Hexagon, but not any more. Over the last few years we have seen more and more companies in the geospatial sector launch platforms to help meet the growing demand for data and actionable insights from both corporate and public sector users.
Looking forwards, you can expect to see some of these Platforms following the Amazon model and evolving organically over the coming years - first into Geospatial Ecosystems and eventually even into Geospatial Marketplaces.
Warning! Trends are Subjective…
We have used our extensive in-house knowledge of the geospatial industry, together with the results of our widespread market engagement over the last twelve months, to develop our top five list for 2023.
But as an experiment, we also asked AI for its top five key trends via ChatGPT, and generated an interesting alternative view:
1. The rise of AI
2. Increased demand for real time data
3. Increased use of Augmented and Virtual Reality
5. The increased integration of geospatial data with other data sources
So whilst you can see that there are some similarities to our predictions, equally this shows that predicting future trends is highly subjective, and I’m sure you would get a similar level of variation if you asked twenty of the geospatial industry’s top professionals to name their top five key trends!
We’d be interested to see your own predictions, so feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.
Dave Horner, Group CEO,
Dave heads up the Getmapping Group and is focused on building sustainable growth through long term strategic partnerships that deliver value to our clients, our partners and our supply chain globally.
He has worked in the geomatics industry for over thirty years and has a wealth of practical experience, having worked as a technical specialist before stepping up into various management positions and becoming the Group CEO 11 years ago. He has seen at first hand the huge changes of focus in the sector as it has evolved from being a niche industry to becoming recognised as a key technology enabler across a wide range of market sectors.