To date, the most significant inroad into the world of big data and analytics has been geographical information. It begins with a geospatial reference point. From there, relevant data is appended to that reference point, be it the personal and social demographics of neighborhoods and individuals; or information about road and traffic infrastructures, land formations or buildings. This ability to append diverse sources of information into a single geospatial model that can be a CAD drawing, a 3D software representation of an image or a map has enriched geospatial information for users and has enabled them to work with more holistic views of projects. This is why companies that include geospatial technology in their strategic roadmaps will find themselves ahead in the game.

Here are six geospatial trends that companies should keep an eye on:

1. Real-Time Geospatial Information

A majority of geospatial models are created in a fixed form that is modified only when the information is changed by a person or by a periodic data update process. In the future, however, more machines and remote locations will be equipped with sensors that generate a continuous stream of output. There will be interest in capturing this output in real time to monitor the health and safety of mining sites, buildings, etc., and also the locations of equipment that might be emitting data indicating that it is about to fail, and/or that requires immediate repair.

2. The Move To A Service Economy

In the past, construction, mining, utility and other heavy industries had to make major capital investments into compressors, generators, etc. But with the advent of cloud-based services, the companies providing this equipment can instead provide the service (e.g., propane) without having to install a piece of equipment at the customer’s plant. Machine-generated data can inform the supplier when and where a service like propane or compressed air is needed, the item can be dispensed, consumption can be monitored and the end customer can be presented with a bill. The business model depends upon geospatial information about the customer and the customer facility.

3. The Advancement Of IPv6

If everyone jumps onboard geospatial models that could change in real time based upon the events that affect them, the Internet and private networks that carry this constantly changing information must be sufficiently robust to carry these non-stop streams of information. Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) was developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to overcome the limits in numbers of device addresses that were available on Internet with previous generation Internet protocol IPv4. It has taken longer than anticipated for companies to adopt IPv6, but the transformation is moving forward. That is because IPv6’s ability to support a virtually limitless number of devices is precisely what it will take for the Internet to support communications from billions of machines and sensors that could overlay geospatial imaging in the future.

4. Calibrated Sensors For Machine Status Reports

One difficulty in mapping sensors and machines to geospatial reference points is the fact that not all sensors work uniformly well on all machines. This is a problem for companies that want to track machine status in geospatial images, as well as for sensor vendors. In the future, there will be better calibration of tolerance ranges and other compatibility factors between sensors and machines so that sensors can be used more universally in geospatial mapping and other applications.

5. Expansion Of Drone Use With LiDAR

The mapping of uncharted and/or inaccessible areas into geospatial images will continue to present challenges to governments, mining companies, utility companies, foresters, scientific expeditions and others. To mitigate these challenges, more LiDAR remote sensing technology will be used to measure distances and landscape contours in the exercise of making high-resolution geospatial maps. Much of this LiDAR sensing will be carried out by unmanned aerial vehicles like drones to minimize the cost and the danger of deploying humans to do the field work.

6. More Uptake Of 3D Modeling In BIM

In both new and existing construction projects, more geospatial technology will be incorporated into BIM (building information models) so architects and construction planners can visualize and plan their way through construction obstacles. The U.S. government already makes BIM a requirement for its construction projects and others are likely to follow. Geospatial modeling of buildings facilitates better building usability and more efficient energy consumption. It also streamlines the physical building process because infrastructure problems can be discovered and solved in 3D modeling — a much less expensive mode of troubleshooting than making modifications during the physical build.