2024 is set to be another exciting year for the geospatial industry as the value of the data, services and solutions it delivers continues to grow, providing insight and intelligence and helping improve decision making across the globe. Below, Dave Horner, CEO of Getmapping, predicts some of the key geospatial trends for the next 12 months.
Artificial Intelligence becoming mainstream:
2023 was the year that generative AI moved into the mainstream and hit the headlines with the widespread adoption of ChatGPT. While we have been discussing AI for several years now, and it has been used in some form or other by organisations for some time, it was still an emerging technology for most people. But ChatGPT changed all that! It's time to accept that AI is now an integral part of our everyday lives, and that its application and usage will continue to grow in the future.
This idea is equally true for the geospatial industry, where we are starting to see AI being used much more widely. From content providers and aggregators to the rapidly expanding user base in both commercial and public sector spaces, organisations will be looking at how they can more effectively leverage AI.
The combination of geospatial data and powerful AI algorithms is already starting to generate powerful on demand solutions, so expect to see more and more geospatial platforms adding AI capabilities to their offerings in 2024. This will make intelligence and insight available at the click of a button and leverage edge computing to increasingly deliver it on demand.
According to PitchBook, venture capital firms poured $21.4bn (£17.5bn) into generative AI start-up firms in the first nine months of 2023, compared to just $5.1bn in the whole of 2022. So, expect to see a rapid rise in the availability of AI-driven intelligence and information throughout 2024. Time to stop thinking about what AI might do for you tomorrow, and start seriously looking at how you can be using it today.
The battle for the Kerbside:
According to a recent BBC article, the one millionth all-electric car will take to the road in the UK in 2024. Just as the majority of us are still contemplating whether to embrace AI, many of us are also undecided as to when to make the switch to electric vehicles. And the main reason for our hesitancy is not the car technology itself, but the availability of EV charging points.
This is driving a much better appreciation for the role that kerbside management plays in our everyday lives, and in particular, how their primary custodians – i.e. Local Authorities – now need much more detailed maps and visualisations of the roads and pavements they are required to manage.
Geospatial data is a key component of the solution to the problem of how to incorporate the need for EV charging into our already congested kerbsides. Increasingly, Local Authorities are turning to high resolution aerial imagery and ultra-high resolution mobile mapping data to provide accurate and detailed representations of the kerbside environment today, so that they can plan the kerbside of tomorrow.
Expect to see exponential growth in the demand for up to date, high resolution imagery and point clouds to help underpin the management of this critical space.
Leveraging multi-source data:
Kerbside management is not the only application that is benefitting from greater access to multi-source data. Across many disciplines, access to a combination of high-resolution imagery and point clouds from both the air and the ground, combined with detailed cadastral mapping alongside proprietary data, is now creating digital replicas of the world around us to unprecedented levels of detail.
This increased detail empowers key decision makers to gain greater intelligence and insights from their desktops. For example, the civil engineering and construction sector increasingly relies on high resolution aerial and mobile mapping surveys to underpin the management of key Highways construction projects.
Property insurers are turning to multi-source data to help identify an expanded range of risk indicators around commercial and residential properties. Renewable energy providers combine cadastral mapping and high resolution roof-top aerial imagery with socio-economic data to help optimise their marketing, sales and delivery processes.
Applications are increasing on a daily basis, so expect to see the use of multi-source data gaining wider adoption in 2024 as the availability of multi-source data and greater/easier accessibility to it increases.
Currency is still king:
The demand for more and more up to date data is showing no signs of slowing as we move into 2024. In fact, if anything, it is increasing. Expect to see the currency at which content programs are updated continue to increase this year, with pressure being applied to cadastral owners to add new features as soon as they are completed.
5cm CityView aerial image, London's South Bank, 2023
Rise of the Geospatial Immigrant:
The term “digital immigrant” has been in common circulation for some time, referring to someone born and brought up before the widespread adoption of digital technology. Similarly, we have started to use the term “geospatial immigrant” to refer to someone who is new to the industry, but recognises the value, insight and intelligence that geospatial data can offer them.
While the geospatial industry might once have been considered as niche – known only to a relatively small group of specialists, working to create and disseminate geospatial data – this perception is rapidly changing. For the first time in 2024 we are expecting to do more business with new customers, many of whom are geospatial immigrants, than with our traditional customer base.
In addition, we expect them to come from a much broader spread of industries as geospatial becomes much more widely adopted, as a result of the key enablers outlined above – the mainstream application of AI, the easier dissemination of multi-source data via cloud services and the continuing increase in currency and resolution.
As a result, expect to start seeing more and more reference to geospatial data and services in mainstream news and social media feeds, as its finally takes its rightful place alongside AI, cloud computing and IoT as a key technology enabler in its own right.