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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

GISCafe’s 2016 Trends Report

January 8th, 2016 by Susan Smith

Top trends that we can expect to see dominating the geospatial landscape in 2016 are trends driven in large part by world events and climate change. Technologies play a large part in how well we will be able to manage climate change and attendant disasters, world events that include terrorism, and disease.

intergraph_greenOur trends list includes: climate change, disease trends, indoor mapping, Esri storymapping, and low cost storage in the cloud, many of which are linked in importance.

Climate Change

Climate Change mapping analysis is a vital part of the big picture looking at how to manage the crisis of climate change globally.

 Chen Zhen, Secretary General of CEDAAB (left) and Leon Qiu, Vice Secretary General of CEDAAB and Principal at DLR Group

Chen Zhen, Secretary General of CEDAAB (left) and Leon Qiu, Vice Secretary General of CEDAAB and Principal at DLR Group

The the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) held in Paris this year called for an end to fossil fuel emissions by the year 2050. This amazing event came on the heels of the plane crash in Egypt caused by a terrorist bomb, sending shock waves of sadness around the world.

In our coverage of COP21/CMP11it was noted by Prince Charles of the UK that climate change was a huge factor in nations’ suffering from famine and drought, which caused people to need to migrate away from their homes, which caused deep distress leading to terrorism. So in the larger scheme of things, climate change is linked to:

Geopolitical Mapping, which is linked to Social Justice Mapping, which is linked to  Human Rights/Democracy Mapping  which is linked to Economic Mapping  which is linked to Humanitarian AID mapping and Citizen Science and Mapping for Change

Jim Tobias, Senior GIS developer, Northrup Grumman Contractor, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, provided the above links as well as others in this article to enlighten some future trends.

According to Ed Mazria, Architecture 2030 Founder and CEO, the long term goal of the resultant Paris Agreement committed almost 200 countries including the U.S., China, India and the EU nations, to keep the global average temperature increase to “well below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C”. The China Accord is a manifestation of the efforts of architects and planners in China and internationally to lower greenhouse emissions in the build environment.

Ed Mazria presenting the China Accord at the UNFCCC COP21 Buildings Day

Ed Mazria presenting the China Accord at the UNFCCC COP21 Buildings Day

Disease Trends

At two primary geospatial events last year, keynote speakers spoke on the topic of epidemiology.


In our Update on Ebola, Epidemiology and Geo-Intelligence blog outlining the experiences of several who had been on the front lines of the Ebola epidemic, Dr Bruce Aylward talked about the disease from his perspective.

When Ebola hit West Africa in 2014, the outbreak began similarly to the way it happened in central Africa originally, and may have come from an infected bat. The virus did something different this time. “The virus took advantage of the fact no one had seen it before and when they finally began to know about it, it had already spread across over 26,000 people, 11,000 people dead,” said Dr. Aylward.

“Stopping the outbreak would require extraordinary international and national response.”

Cultural problems were on the horizon as specially clad teams would have to come and carry away the dead which proved terrifying to the people in the small villages. This is a beautiful area, but the terrain isolates villages and also fed the rumor mill of who was coming to help and what the disease actually was.

What was indicative of for everyone involved, was that to fight a disease of such magnitude, responders should be prepared for it on a larger scale than just Africa in the event that it becomes disease that affects the rest of the world. We did see isolated cases of Ebola in the UK and the U.S. in 2014, as well as some other countries.

Disease Trend and Eradication Mapping and UNAIDS report

Visual Epidemiology – human stories behind the maps.

Indoor Mapping

While indoor mapping has been talked about for many years, it would seem that with the use of more sensor technology, it is coming to the forefront. The need to be able to track indoor assets with GIS has been growing and while initially, it was considered for defense, it is now being used for retail and accessibility.

Las Vegas Convention Center

Las Vegas Convention Center

TomTom (TOM2) has announced a strategic partnership with worldwide indoor mapping leader, Micello Inc., extending the reach of its mapping products to include indoor venues.

TomTom’s business customers will now be able to use Micello’s pedestrian-friendly indoor maps and venue content with points-of-interest data worldwide.

Michael Healander, founder of Geometri, spoke with GISCafe Voice about the evolution of that company, and the recent announcement from Geographic Information Services, Inc. (GISi) an Esri Platinum Partner, that its Board of Directors has formally approved the spin-off of its operating unit, GISi Indoors, as an independent company.  The new business is named Geometri, LLC., Geometri is the name of their flagship indoor GIS software-as-a-service product.

“The reason we got into indoor mapping,” said Healander, “Is we focused on the fact that when you go indoors you lose your navigation on your phone. And there’s a lot of opportunity as people spend money indoors. It’s hard to navigate, and we took on that problem. We built a platform and called it Geometri. We have taken complex pieces of technology to create indoor GPS, whether indoor maps, indoor routing or indoor search. We’ve taking the outdoor routing algorithms that we used in our main company and now we make them for indoor.”

Now you can do multi-floor routing, wheelchair accessibility routing, routing for how to get to class or through the building at the University of Washington. At the same institution, it will route you by selecting “avoid stairs” to support Americans with Disabilities Act.

Esri Storymapping has provided a large amount of data in a novelized way, that is easy to ingest and has revolutionized the way we can get data about a particular event.

As described by the author of the Star Wars Storymap, Isabella Rojs, “With this map, I would like to give you a worldwide tour of all the locations used for filming the six Star Wars movies. The tour will lead you from Episode I to Episode VI, from Guatemala to China.”

In another Storymap, the Environmental Integrity Project’s report, “Stopping the Flood Beneath Baltimore’s Streets,” reviews Baltimore City’s sewer system and the challenges residents face from the crumbling infrastructure.

Low Cost Storage in the Cloud

The Cloud has been on the geospatial bucket list for a few years now, but it continues to be an avenue by which more data can be stored, reviewed and manipulated.

(C) DigitalGlobe 2015.

(C) DigitalGlobe 2015.

The ability to share high resolution imagery is having a huge impact of world affairs, evidenced by the company SpaceKnow’s ability to show the historical activity at the North Korean Nuclear testing site that followed the reported Thermo Nuclear test this week. Spaceknow used its analytics to detect changes in the location of the supposed nuclear test facility. What their imagery shows is that the test facility has expanded over a larger geographical area in the past few years.

According to authorities, Experts don’t believe the test was successful. American geological survey detected some earthquake activity but it didn’t respond to nuclear test. Moreover South Koreans did not register any radiation.

Using Spaceknow analytics, we were able to detect changes in the area of the supposed nuclear test facility. The facility clearly expanded over a larger area in the last years. All Images (C) DigitalGlobe 2015.

Esri and NASA are collaborating to improve access to imagery and raster data stored in the cloud, by using a combination of Meta Raster Format (MRF) and Limited Error Raster Compression (LERC).

According to company materials, MRF is an Open raster format originally designed at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) to optimize web access to rasters. LERC is a highly efficient algorithm that provides fast lossless and controlled lossy compression of image and raster data. Esri was recently awarded a US Patent for LERC, and is making the patented LERC technology freely available to the geospatial and earth sciences community.

The advantage of MRF and LERC that Esri and NASA will make available is that organizations will be able to lower storage costs and gain fast access to imagery and data as web services.

Handheld's Nautiz X8 is an ultra rugged device

Handheld’s Nautiz X8 is an ultra rugged device

In addition, cloud enabled mobile devices allow data to be taken out into the field and gathered in the field with increasing efficiency. UAVs offer a new exciting way to gather data in the field at less cost than satellite imagery and scanning. Consequently, we will see more apps and ways of facilitating these processes as time goes on.

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Categories: 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11), 311, 3D Cities, 3D designs, 3D PDF, Airbus Defense and Space, airports, analytics, Apple, banking, Big Data, conversion, crowd source, data, field GIS, financial services, geocoding, GeoEYE, geoinformatics, geospatial, GIS, GISi, integrated GIS solutions, Intergraph, iPhone, LBS, Leica Geosystems, lidar, location based sensor fusion, location intelligence, mapping, NASA, Open Source, public safety, resilient cities, satellite imagery, sensors, spatial data, storm surge, telecommunications, TomTom, transportation, UAS, UAV, UAVs, utilities, wildfire risk

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