Economic meltdown,MobilityFree and open data and softwareCrowdCloudUbiquityGYMPrivacySocial changesGlobal competitionI am going to try to sketch out for you some of the main factors driving change in our industry, how they might play out and how you might take advantage of them as businesses, employees and GI professionalsThere can be little doubt that in 5 years the GI industry will look very differentThe question is will your business [CLICK]
Turn out to be a sunken old wreck?
Or will you find your way to ride on the crest of the wave?
Although this presentation is based on the AGI’s Foresight study which I helped to edit, these are my interpretations and focus areasI am not speaking on behalf of the AGI
This presentation is based upon the AGI’s Foresight Study – GI in 2015 which is being published this weekThanks to the authors of 37 papers, the various other contributors and of course my co-editors Andrew Coote of Consulting Where and Robin McLaren of KnowEdge – that’s a lot of knowing and whereing when combined with my KnowWhere![CLICK] now a word of warning
So what is driving what has been described as a paradigm shift for GI in the UK and elsewhere?Over the last 20 years the GI industry has been changing, but in relatively small increments. There have been a series of significant breakthroughs, many driven directly by the IT sector: client / server to web enabled; UNIX workstations to desktop; proprietary to interoperability; limited data to a ‘fire-hose’ of data; high to affordable costs; departmental to enterprise solutions; and static to mobile, for example. These drivers of change and their effects emerged at a rate that both businesses and Government could absorb and comfortably adapt to. However, what we are now experiencing, bubbling up around us, is the biggest and fastest shift the industry has seen in our professional careers – Geography as Context. This shift is allowing and encouraging serious new players to enter and shape the GI sector as significant opportunities are discovered. The incumbent players have mostly been surprised at the scale and the speed of these investments.
To reach 50 milllionTV – 13 yrsInternet – 4iPod – 3Facebook -2 Google Maps < 1?in 1992 there were 1,000,000 internet devices. In 2008 there were 1,000,000,000,000!with the amount of new technical information doubling every 2 years, students starting a 4 year technical degree will find that half of what they learned in their 1st year will be out-dated in their 3rd year !
The Foresight study looks at PoliticalEconomicSocialTechnologicalThel and e in pestle are legal and environmental
Impossible to ignore political dimension and trends in considering the future of our industry, particularly as close to half revenues come from public sector
Political dimensions are not just national EU plays a big part eg INSPIRE and increasingly global political decisions will impact our industryServices are being built with global scale, that makes information requirements, standards and policies need to comply with a global set of requirementsThe move to cloud based services will expose UK vendors and service providers to global competition in ways that have not been experienced to date.
Main drivers over the next few years will beINSPIREOpen data
INSPIRE and the UK Location Program should be a great opportunity for the GI communityBut… there must remain questions about strategy and its implications for UK GIOpen Source and an OS lead?Is there any underlying demand from the user community for INSPIRE or is it just legislation driven. You might ask who will be inspired?Is the technical architecture doomed to become obsolete before it is even implemented? Some of our contributors and advisors thought so!
Difficult to gauge the impact of current open data policesOpening up Ordnance Survey will have a range of impacts:Reducing revenues for some resellers and partnersFocussing attention on the costs of software and servicesStimulating usage of geographyThe opening of a wide range of central non personal govt data sets will is stimulating opportunities for geographers. There will be an even greater flurry of activity when Local Government is forced to follow suit as it surely will be in the next year
It feels as if everything is becoming open at the moment. The government’s recently published response to the OS consultation didn’t just make a load o OS data freely available as OpenDatait also sprung a surprise on UK GI by making the OS the lead in the tech delivery of INSPIRE and by using an Open Source tech stack that will become freely availableImpactsProprietary software – no gravy trainServices – levels the playing fieldOpen source has definitely got a seal of approval from government who have been big customers of proprietary software. That does not in any way suggest that the traditional software vendors’ business models are terminally broken but it may suggest that they will need to adapt pretty quickly. There will certainly be some opportunities for new entrants within the services market to build businesses on top of open source initiatives.
Widespread adoption of location in consumer facing applications combined with a lack of understanding of the extent to which your location history can be mined and exploited is likely to lead to a privacy backlash and some form of code of practice or legislation.Location scandals Celebrity sex Business
Maybe it is my age but there definitely seem to be some significant generational changes that will impact UK GII grew up in the baby boomer generation – an era that fostered a degree of liberalism that has probably waned for many (but I hope not me) as we have grown olderMany of you will have grown up in what was known as [CLICK] generation X born in 60’s & 70’s and [CLICK] generation Y born in 80’s & 90’s This generation has a much less clear divide between its work and leisure activities which will have significant impacts on its attitudes and expectations when it engages with geoTo quote one of our contributors “The leadership and decision makers of 2015 will have radically different values, attitudes and expectations to those who have comprised the customers and consumers of the last decade”Let’s look at a couple of examples
The explosion of free (or apparently free) services on the internet has created an expectation that all digital content can and should be available free online. Media, music and a raft of information industries are wrestling with these expectations, the desire to access new delivery channels and the challenge of determining viable business models. GI is no exception as we have already seen!The culture of free also stimulates innovation both on the producer side and from consumers who appear to be increasingly willing to challenge the legal rights of content owners.BMR claim that 96% 0f 18-24 year olds have undertaken some form of illegal copying or downloadingEvery digital industry will have to wrestle with the challenges of defining value propositions that will sustain profitable business modelsThe widespread expectation of “free” is moving from the consumer web market to the business to business GI market. Open Source software and data has now become a viable alternative to proprietary models and whilst Open Source is not strictly free as business models are based on provision of services and support rather than licensing, that in itself will be highly disruptive to businesses focused on licensing and maintenance models. Consumer web mapping API’s that are apparently free (or have radically different cost recovery or justification models) have already encroached on several fields of activity for the GI industry (e.g. store locators, tracking and other real time data feeds). The entry of “professional” standard services businesses on top of the free API’s will increase competition in web presentation of corporate data. Additionally we can foresee the growth of “enterprise” or “paid for’ versions of the free API’s offering premium geo services and features to clients who already use other elements of their offerings (advertising, applications, platforms).
The phenomenon of social networks cannot be ignored within the GI communityPassing for a moment the enormous hype and potential of location enabling current social network offerings. We need to recognise the light and informal communications networks that have been common place through services like facebook and twitter. There will be an evolution of new collaborative ways of working and sharing information across organisations & geo workers will not be excluded. In 5 years time I expect we will be “following” locations of interest in ways that we probably can only just start to imagine, planning, environmental, news
The overall economic context to 2015 is (in aggregate) flat. Most forecasts are for limited growth over the next 2-3 years, predictions from National Institute for Economic and Social Research suggest that overall economic output will not reach the Q1, 2008 level until the end of 2012 and GDP per capita will not reach 2008 peak levels until Q1, 2014.
There is a particular tension in these forecasts for the GI industry given its high dependence on government expenditure. The limited recovery has been fuelled by government spending which has replaced the credit bulge as the engine of growth (albeit a weak engine), however regardless of the election outcome it would seem prudent to plan for significantly reduced government spending from 2011 onwards.The Institute for Fiscal Studies analysed the impact on central government departmental budgets of the commitment to significantly reduce government debt by 2014. After adjusting for the “protected” budgets of Health and Schools committed by both parties, the reduction could be of the order of 13% up to 2012-13, if protection were extended to 2014-14 other budgets would need to be cut by 23.8% (£47.4bn in total) Remember that most GI spend in the public sector is in the areas of central and local government that will not be protected and thus subject to some severe budget reductions which will force us to provide exceptional value for money and prove the worth of GI.
Whilst public sector expenditure on GI is likely to fall up to 2015, commercial markets should deliver some growth as the recovery gathers pace. In most sectors our contributors anticipate steady growth however there are a couple of markets that they believe do have above average potential. The combination of environmental concerns and the high cost of fuel will provide the economic impetus for a number of smart logistics applications. Additionally the above average growth of internet retail will have a significant impact on home delivery services and a demand for more precise predictions of time of delivery.In several sectors where geo has low uptake (eg. insurance and finance) we anticipate an opportunity for new entrants not encumbered by legacy technology to gain competitive advantage through the use of GI across their businesses.
Location Based Services (LBS) have been widely touted as “the next big thing” since the late 1990s. A significant development in the next 5 years will be the move of applications aimed primarily at consumers into the enterprise space. Just as today vehicle navigation is used in both the consumer and business space, other geospatial applications that emerge in the consumer market will also be adopted, sometimes in a “hardened” form in the enterprise.mobile / field based workers will have much better and simpler access to information; and the enterprise will also have a real time picture of where all its employees are (as well as other resources and assets). Traditionally geospatial applications have been more about documenting and analysing the past, and planning for the future, but there will be significant growth in applications focused on real time information.
Most contributors to study have focussed on B2B and B2G space, which may be an indication of the extent to which the explosion in consumer adoption of location has by passed the traditional GI industry.>100m people use web maps each month, virtually none are provided by GI industryBy 2015 there will be 10m people in UK able to access maps and location apps on their mobile phones. Location will become ubiquitous with so many self locating connecting devices and applications that take advantage of location context will flourish. Already over 15% of the apps on the Apple AppStore use location in some way often without you even noticing.The growth in consumer applications of location may be unrecognisable as GI to many of you but these increasingly smart devices and apps will encroach on the serious applications of GI professionals and their providers.
Tomas Edison may have been hoping for aphonagraph in every home, I am hoping for a google globe in every home or a precision GPS on every phone.Let’s have a quick look at some of the key technology changes that we foresee
Cloud computing will become the predominant means of software service delivery. Gartner believe “it will mean that users of IT-related services will be able to focus on what the service provides them rather than how the services are implemented or hosted.” The emergence of cloud based servicesgeoprocessing, visualisation, data management & quality and data as a service will be transformational over the next 5 years. Remember that Google Maps is not much more than 5 years old and think how much change we might see in the next 5 years.I can’t see the end of the desktop clients that many of you use on a daily basis but I think we can anticipate several new entrants taking advantage of the cloud at the expense of existing providers who based on past performance may be slow to adapt.
How true. It is difficult to speculate whether the mobile operators will be able or willing to satisfy the hunger of mobile users for high capacity and speed broadband connectivity on the go. Clearly many of the mobile solutions foreseen are only going to be viable with improved connectivity and the predicted growth in devices suggests that quantum increases in bandwidth will be needed.
By 2015 there will be over 200 positioning satellites in operation. Centimetre positioning will be commonplaceLocation tracking will be pervasive in 2015 – all mobile phones will have location tracking ... we will have the ability to know where everyone is all the time.Indoor positioning will still require some form of augmentation but 1 metre accuracy is reasonably confidently expected
By 2015 there will be 385 instruments in space providing imagery across all parts of the frequency spectrum10-30m resolution data will be publicly available free – It is debatable whether sub-metre imagery will be reserved for military and intelligence usage or will become commercially available.Major web players are driving the demand for aerial, oblique and panoramic photography as this drives commoditisation specialists will be forced to focus on niches where high quality or other non mass market requirements will sustain increased prices.
Many have observed that GI clients are often not the most user friendly or engaging. As more users of GI compare their experience with their work GI products and what they use at home or on their phones there will be a cross over of user experiences and we will see more intuitive and responsive interfaces. Imagine what we might be able to do on a touch pad device with inbuilt gps, wireless connectivity, and 10 hour battery life within a couple of years?
At the moment we are mainly seeing consumer applications of augmented reality in part driven by the combinations of cameras, GPS and compasses within mobile devices. If you have ever been lost on a poorly signposted skislope then you will immediately appreciate the potential value of an app like this.In the near future we will see the emergence of professional type applications f AR – imagine road and utility workers using AR to identify buried assets whilst digging up the road or the police using AR to assemble a wide range of info on the surrounding area before entering a property or approaching a suspect.AR has the potential to make traditional cartography unnecessary for some information delivery applications and remember that AR could also be audio rather than visual so much less intrusive
Crowd sourcing can be active (OSM etc) or passive TomTom’s collection from connected devicesThe growth of OpenStreetMap over the last couple of years has stunned many observers. With over 200,000 contributors over 10% of which are active the map is starting to rival commercial products in many places and is the map of choice for many first responders in the NGO and relief community. Just look what a small number of volunteers achieved within a few days in Haiti and all of that was done from their desks at home on top of donated imagery!Potentially crowd sourcing could provide change intelligence to the national map, collect data that was previously considered uneconomic to capture and maintain and offer a way for local government to interact more effectively with local communities.As one of our contributors said “We are all sensors now. Your photographs, tweets, restaurant reviews, the speed at which you are driving are all geocoded data that is being recorded and can be mined and analysed.”
So with all of this change, economic turmoil, new technologies, changing expectations, the challenge of free, new government policies and initiatives (and probably many more to come in the next few months) there are challenging times ahead for UK GI
But I am not a prophet of doom
I am much more of an eternal optimist who is fairly confident that the companies and professionals within UK GI will respond to the challenges and will prosper as the thirst for locational perspectives and applications explodes on the back of technological advances
So what are the key challenges for the UK GeoCommunity? The foresight report offers quite a long list, these are my personal choices:Discarding the location-specific baggage and enter the mainstreamBuilding a skill set that enables us to provide context and understanding as geo goes more and more mainstream, we will need people who can answer the questions “so what does that mean then?” or “where in my business process can I improve outcomes through the application of location and how?”Finding ways of ensuring consumers can manage and understand the issues surrounding location privacyFinding business models that respond to the challenge of freeNew entrants will seize the opportunity to fuse the geoweb and social media – established incumbents will need to react or die;Developing the role of location information in socially significant applications, such as participatory democracy, mega city planning as well as consumer applications;And last but not least finding ways to communicate with the 50% of end users who don’t understand mapsAnd whilst I am an optimist if we can’t manage to do those things then [CLICK}
You had better look for a new job!
Navigating in Turbulent Waters Steven Feldman KnowWhere Consulting