Where Geospatial Technology is Heading in 2022
As we ring in the new year, we are now entering the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Uneven adoption of available vaccines and mitigation efforts has led to an escalation of critical cases in the United States. As I write this blog in mid-December, hospitals are still being pushed to the brink. My heart goes out to the medical professionals fighting on the frontlines around the world, and my hope for 2022 is that through education and perseverance, the pandemic will end.
Writing predictions for any industry amid a pandemic is challenging. Learning and sharing through in-person conferences and tradeshows is vital to business and industry growth, and over the recent years, these events have largely been on hold or dramatically curtailed. This leads us to look toward what our customers have been doing as a guide, along with the limited sharing of information and progress through social media, industry publications, and virtual conferences.
First and foremost, we are still seeing a great interest in 3D visualization and next level data processing. GIS professionals desire the ability to not only view and analyze their data in the 3D space, but manipulate, extract and add to the data in 3D. Older workflows of processing 3D data in a 2D space seem convoluted and slow. Though there are still many workflows aiming to produce and deliver 2D maps, we continue to receive feature requests for more and more 3D tools. These requests stray from 3D data presentation, such as flying over a 3D scene, to advanced analysis and 3D editing, including 3D viewshed.
Related to this is the now ubiquitous nature of lidar and point cloud data. Many Global Mapper users are quite familiar and comfortable with lidar data processing and analysis, and the popularity of these workflows has been confirmed here at Blue Marble with the release of Global Mapper Pro, which incorporates our very popular Lidar Module into a powerful set of analysis tools for the GIS professional. Access to lidar data of some type or another is now relatively easy to achieve, although there are still inequities with local data availability depending on location. It is still expensive to fly and collect lidar data for many, and collected data is often unevenly available due not only to government restrictions but also to sound delivery mechanisms. GIS professionals are ready and able to work with the data, but there are still not many tools for accessing, querying, viewing, and sometimes even downloading the data. Even in the U.S., where public data is freely available, many projects remain on hard drives and are immediately available for download.
As more detailed data becomes available, we are seeing that data analytics have dramatically increased and the desire to process large datasets through software seems to grow exponentially with each new project. Cloud computing is growing and analysts are ready and willing to push big GIS data through their software at an even greater clip. Related to this is the push for machine or machine assisted learning where GIS analysis is re-processed over and over to improve routines and thus results. This new trend for ever more computing power from GIS and geospatial tools will continue to grow throughout 2022 for all types of data.
The GIS industry is a small one and one that sometimes is hidden in other industries, valuable and impactful back room workflows and analyses. The continued push by analysts for cutting edge technology in turn pushes other industries to innovate, and that innovation will undoubtedly continue at an even greater pace in 2022.
Patrick Cunningham | President & CEO, GISP
Blue Marble Geographics
Cunningham offers over two decades of experience in software development, marketing, sales, consulting, and project management. Under his leadership, Blue Marble has become the world leader in coordinate conversion software (the Geographic Calculator) and low-cost GIS software with the 2011 acquisition of Global Mapper. Cunningham is Chair of the Maine GIS Users Group, a state-appointed member of the Maine Geolibrary Board, a member of the NEURISA board, a GISP and holds a master’s in sociology from the University of New Hampshire.