When Brandt first asked me to participate in his session on disruptive technology, I said to him:Now I know I’ve been known to be disruptive, but I’m not an expert on disruptive innovation. Then I thought: maybe I should know more. As I began my research, I was astounded by how vast, varied and well studied this topic is. As I began to apply it to GIS, I found it very applicable. It actually explained a lot. As I share this information with you, I want you to know that it is far from comprehensive. You will see that every example could be a paper on its own. I’ve been in this field since the mid 1980’s, so I decided to focus on what I saw to be most disruptive, as a GIS professional. I would very much like to hear from the audience on their experiences.
The term disruptive innovation can be misleading as disruption causes disorder, its an interruption of something. How can this be a good thing? As I began to look back, I began to see that the need for interruption in GIS, preceded the disruption. Something was out of alignment with emerging technologies, growing needs, and changing values.It was sometimes met with resistance and sometimes met with “its about time!”. I’m going to ask everyone to do something very disruptive, and you may not like it and you don’t have to do it. I would like for everyone right now to get up and move to a different seat. Who in the audience didn’t move? Who reluctantly moved, or moved only to the seat next to them? Who took this as an opportunity to sit next somebody really cute that they’d like to get to know? So my point is…those who embrace change and venture out of their comfort zone, not only adapt, they thrive. It’s the same in business, and government.
SustainingEvolutionaryRevolutionary Disruptiveinnovation creates a new market and replacesan existing market.
Clayton Christensen is one of the leading experts in this area, and actually the one who coined the term back in 1995 . A great example he uses of disruptive innovation is camera phone technology. It demonstrates how product quality improves quicker than what customers demand or expect. Initially, consumers valued high quality photographic images the most. Camera phones were only used by a small new market that valued the availability of it. Eventually, as image quality improved, camera phones met the needs of the old market and it offered them even more: availability.
You can apply this to orthophotos in our region. Going back to 1999…Although this data capture technology had been around, it wasn’t affordable for individual agencies, and value was somewhat speculative with regards to cost justification. Metro brilliantly formed an Aerial Photo Consortium and everyone in the region jointly purchased 2 ft resolution. It changed EVERYTHING! I was astounded by the price, the product, and the applications it offered. It became an invaluable mapping layer that was used in conjunction with the RLIS data. It became something that users in the region expected. And on an annual basis. Basically, the product created a new market, however, initially, it wasn’t affordable, and the old market didn’t realize the benefits. Over time, it became more affordable and it met and then exceeded the old market’s demand.
Would it surprise you to know that Metro had a significantfunding gap to capture2014 LiDAR?LiDAR? Are you kidding? No one is pitching in? Why?Its not affordable, and value is somewhat speculative with regards to cost justification. Déjà vu. But thanks to Justin Houck at Metro, and Kevin Martin at City of Portland, for their foresight, persistence, and clever strategies – this project is finally fully funded. Its going to change EVERYTHING!!!
On to more history.Back in the 80’s, statistic maps had to be done well in advance of a scheduled presentation, like a board meeting, because the paper maps had to be generated, printed, photographed, developed into 35mm slides, and finally put in the correct order in a carousel. I remember using them after powerpoint came along, just to have a backup. It wasn’t just me…no one was confident in this new technology, esp. when so much depended on it. It was a powerful means of communication.
…I’ve already mentioned how changing views from above, aerials, changed everything below, and we could dedicate the next 20 minutes to that alone. But we have a lot more to cover. My experiences began to organize themselves by platform shoes. Just like my closet.Within each platform, we’ll look at the impacts it had on developers, location, data, and mapping.Again, this is far from comprehensive, but I hope it at least spurs interest and further investigation.
Believe it or not, this is a picture of the shoe that John Travolta danced in in Saturday night fever.
Windows had studs… it wasn’t always stable, but its was cool and sophisticated and everyone wanted it. It was sexy and it was easy.
You can run on the mobile platforms.
I first worked with ArcInfo on a SUN workstation in the 80s. Limited number of GIS professionals emerged due to hardware costs and technical skills required.
Needed highly skilled technician, and they needed to know AML and how to navigate the environment with command line tools like vi.
Digitizing was how we got the data into the system. It was converting paper maps to digital mapping layers that could be printed.
This replaced mylar mapping layers, which was basically a paper and manual GIS.
This changed the skills that cartographers needed. They had to learn the technical aspects or retire.
initially valued accurate representations, cartographic design, low cost eventually GIS was able to deliver the cartographic quality, offer greater level of accuracy and representation, and reduce costs
Believe it or not…. At one time, there was no internet. People used phone books and printed Thomas Guide map books. There was nothing out there. You could talk and transfer within a network, but that network was not connected to everything outside. And in the old days, on the early internet, you needed modems, technical knowledge…and there wasn’t much out there. Many people wondered if there ever would be….
And then there was light. And that changed everything.
I missed my command line for a long time. I thought it would end in tragedy if GIS users didn’t know what was in the black box.
Microstation, MapInfo, Autocad… Had been around and also ported over to the windows platform. There was still a high learning curve.Hardware costs, software costs, and technicians were expensive, but GIS started to grow in government and business.
At first I thought it was like a cartoon compared to the other softwares…
But then I realized ESRI was brilliant. This changed everything.Facilitated GIS usage for other professionals: planners, analysts, biologist, etc. Learning curve was easier.Started new business with ArcView classes and instructors that could teach literally anyone that was interested. It also introduced shapefiles and Avenue code – GIS technicians had to learn fast.
GPS and satellite imagery became more easily available
Data collection changed.Digitized not on a table, but in the computer.using aerial photography and added layer to maps for printing, etc. Captured locations and attributes on street
And then there was….
Map Servers. ArcIMSArcServerMap ServerGeo ServerMovement from paper maps to interactive maps and access to more up-to-date information.And we had open source alternatives….
And then there was….
Google… I will never forget Mark Bosworth, one of the greatest legends in our field. And I will never forget what he called Keyhole when it first came out: Its crack for geographers. It didn’t take the place of GIS, but it did start a new GIS market – the general public.
And we had access to more data…like Google StreetView. More data.
GIS programmers had to adapt to new learn languages. And non-gis programmers entered the market.
Initially, customers valued accuracy, representation, etc.But web maps created a whole new customer base. Beyond professionals, the general public now had access to maps. It also meant they had access to more current and up-to-date info at their fingertips.
You can run on the mobile platforms.And I mean literally RUN.
Technology has changed. It was a field day for programmers…not just GIS programmers. All programmers had the ability to incorporate maps and spatial data, and to compete in a new market.
Previously, spatial data only lived in flat and/or proprietary files – arcinfocoverages, shapefiles, arcsde.Now we had alternatives…. Oracle Spatial, Postgres/PostGIS.Spatial data was no longer special. It was just regular data with spatial attributes. And you didn’t need special software to access it.
Just like Thai food, its so complex, but may just have lime, fish sauce, and sugar as a base.
Initially, customers valued accuracy, representation, etc.But mobile maps created a whole new customer base. Beyond professionals, the general public now had access to maps. It also meant they had access to more current and up-to-date info at their fingertips.
Is our sun rising or setting?
Data datadataBig dataSmall dataIts all about dataAnd can you think of any data that doesn’t have a spatial element?Can you think of anything that can’t be mapped?
But values are changing with regards to data and software with intiatives like Code 4 and new policies. One of the first initatives president obama introduced was an open government initiative. This resulted in data.gov, a resource for software developrs and a house for applications and oss. This movement has spread to many coties, states, and countries bringing benefits to the public.An example of this is the city of portland. Our mayor samadams passed a city resolion that increases transparency in govt and supports open data and oss. The city worked with other agencies to launch civic apps, a common repository for open data and applications.
OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a seamless, worldwide basemap that is community driven, licensed as open data, and is now TriMet’s standard and main source for routable base map data. We use it for internal systems and applications that usea routable base map such as: (CAD/AVL) Call Center and Field Trip applicationsLIFT paratransit (MDTs); Open source, multimodal trip plannerfixed route scheduling system for on-street service. An increasing number of applications are emerging on the market with integrated and more sophisticated routing technology. This introduces new data requirements, beyond what centerlines can deliver. Working with the community and local jurisdictions is a standard business practice supported with a full-time employee (FTE) that is dedicated to OSM maintenance and associated datasets in the seven counties area. This effort sustains the increasing number of systems in the agency thatrequire routable networks, and it supports seamless multi-agency trip planning and analysis in the region.
Offers innovative and affordable alternatives without vendor lock-in, shared resources for government and academia, more control.
This new customer base, the general public, expects immediate access to maps and spatial data. They expect transparency.They expect collaboration. Beyond professionals, the general public now had access to maps. It also meant they had access to more current and up-to-date info at their fingertips.
This scene from the wizard of oz has a deeper meaning: that fear of a rumored potential threat is just silly.
Potential threats can become our friends. Disruptive innovation is inherent in GIS and its inevitable. Markets will die as new ones emerge and we have to adapt. We can sit comfortably, or we can anticipate, embrace, and even encourage change in innovation for progress. Even if we aren’t comfortable with the disruption it causes.