The amount of data that is being collected by sensors (remote sensors), terrestrial sensors, and personal sensors is going to explode. Today, everyone with a smartphone is carrying around a very sophisticated sensor. We are going to see the data from these sensors being used more and more. With all the sensors that are coming on line, we are quickly approaching the point where we can see what is happening anywhere at anytime.
The level of interest in 3D GIS is definitely on the upswing. With new data sources like LiDAR and the ability of tools to combine these different sources to make immersive environments – it’s going to take a big leap forward. Augmented Reality is just one technology that is on the cusp of breaking out. 2012 could be the year when it moves from a curiosity to a real must-have application. 2012 could also see a large adoption of 3D GIS technologies, as Autodesk continues work with its Infrastructure Modeler and Esri rolls out the fruit from its acquisition of Procedural and its CityEngine technology.
We are really seeing a lot of excitement on the mobile platform. In today’s world, a mobile workforce is still a connected workforce. No longer is it the case that field workers are disconnected from their office systems. As a result we are increasingly seeing the need for real-time data movement. With workers always being connected, the line will continue to blur between the office, the field, and the home. Smartphones are really “pocket” computers with more processing power than that of desktops only a few years ago. The challenge now is more about bandwidth than anything else, and this is only going to get better and cheaper in 2012. In 2012 more people are going to run “mobile” web apps from their smartphones/iPods/iPads than from their computers on the desktop.
Social Media and Authoritative Citizen Data
The importance of social media to business is only increasing. Now people use social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to follow topics and keep in touch with their customers and industry trends. Social media has really changed the way that organizations get the word out. At Safe now we see ourselves spending more and more time on “content” marketing so that we have the content that users need. Through social media we are also in constant communication with more of our users than ever before.
On the topic of authoritative citizen data we are going to see more applications where citizens can help their cities and countries run better. Whether it is helping cities identify potholes, or graffiti locations by simply sending in geo-tagged photos, or helping authorities prosecute “rioters” by taking video and pictures with their phones – the trend is clear. Citizens are going to be more engaged than ever before.
The cloud is everywhere in 2012. At Safe for example, we do almost everything in the cloud. We run our demo machines in the cloud. We train in the cloud. Our website is in the cloud. Our customers can evaluate using the cloud. From a technology perspective cloud technology is ready to host everything.
We are also going to continue to see more and increasingly powerful cloud-based systems out there. Take Google Fusion Tables for example. This technology makes it trivial for anyone to publish and share any kind of data, including spatial data, and share it with the world instantly! It’s amazing, and the cloud makes it possible.
The cloud is also a great equalizer. It used to be that organizations that wanted to create world class web-based solutions had to spend huge amounts of capital to purchase their own server farms to host these applications. With cloud services now, such as Amazon’s AWS, anyone can now create web-based solutions and simply leverage the scalability it inherently provides and only pay for what they use when they use it. This moves CPU usage for these organizations from the “highway” model; (build and pay for infrastructure to handle peak loads), to the electricity model in which you only pay for what you use. The cloud and its impact are still in early days.
The integration challenge is bigger than ever. For us at Safe we are seeing demands for data to be moved between more different kinds of systems than ever before. For the first decade of Safe it was all about CAD<->GIS. Now we have Raster, LiDAR, XML, Big Data, and Web-based data sources such as Google Fusion Tables. Users don’t want to just move it either way; they want to combine it and then send it to new applications. Over this period the “data freshness” dates are getting shorter and shorter. In 2012 we believe we are going to see organizations want to leverage “real-time” data. We also are seeing an explosion of sensors and expect organizations to need to integrate this entirely new type of data into their workflows so that they can react quicker and more effectively to events. This belief was a driving force behind the “Event Driven” architecture which we have added to FME Server. With this we are ready to handle a whole new class of data integration challenge.
Safe Software responses by:
President and Co-founder of Safe Software