A complete report of Phases I through III of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) 10-year Industry Forecast of Remote Sensing has been published in the January 2004 issue of Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing (PE&RS), the official journal for imaging and geospatial information science and technology. The study documentation was prepared by Charles Mondello, Pictometry International Corp., Forecast Coordinator; Dr. George F. Hepner, University of Utah; and, Dr. Ray A. Williamson, The George Washington University.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provided important financial support for the conduct and documentation of the Forecast. In addition, numerous remote-sensing organizations provided information and volunteer effort throughout the project, making this study a report on the industry, by the industry, for both the industry and its outside interest groups.
The study was begun in 1999 under a Space Act Agreement between NASA and ASPRS, with a goal to develop a continuing forecast for the remote sensing industry. Phase I of the forecast, completed in 2000, characterized the industry and developed a financial and activity baseline and an initial forecast of economic activity. Phase II, completed in 2002, centered on the identification and assessment of the end users of remote sensing and geospatial information products. Phase III focused on validating the results of Phases I and II and delivering an updated technology and market assessment, especially given the potential impacts on the industry following the terrible events of September 11, 2001. In 2002, NOAA joined the group to support the documentation and analysis of the Forecast in order to provide further information to the private sector and government agencies. Post-Phase III (Phases IV and on) activities are expected to center on developing a revised market forecast and standardizing methods for continuing the rolling forecast.
Among the important findings of the report, Phase III assessed the effect of 9-11 and related national economic circumstances on industry growth. Consistent with the contraction of the U. S. economy since 2001, study respondents reduced their growth projections in Phase II to 9% over the next few years; downward from the 14% projected in Phase I. The relative small size of most companies providing industry services with limited resources for Research and Development was cited as the primary factor for this reprojection. Phase III further developed the real and potential effects of the attacks of 9-11 on governmental policy indicating that increased restrictions on the pubic availability of geospatial information have had a negative effect on organizations producing geospatial data and information, especially in data export, airspace restrictions and data purveyance to the public.
Another finding of the study is the need for development of a capable workforce for continued industry growth. Lack of retention of entry-level workers appears to hamper the long-term health of the industry. Further, the development of new analytic methods and new geospatial technologies will lead to future growth, but require a sufficiently trained workforce to sustain the growth.
Finally, it appears that remote sensing consumers need higher resolution data and improved positional accuracy, including higher accuracy support data such as digital elevation datasets. These findings vary by the user sector and the market segment, but appear to be consistent overall.
Source: SpatialNews.com, Jan. 8, 2004