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Matt Sheehan
Matt Sheehan
Matt holds an MSc in Geography and GIS. He has been working with clients solving problems with GIS for over 17 years. Matt founded WebMapSolutions whose mission is to put innovative, intuitive GIS driven applications into the hands of new and existing users.

2015 GIS Predictions

January 2nd, 2015 by Matt Sheehan

Happy New Year. Like many other we have been mulling over our 2015 GIS predictions. But before we jump in let’s review 2014.

GIS in 2014

We saw GIS in 2014 as a year of advancement and self examination. Mobile technology, fed by data and services in the cloud, has put location on the tips of many tongues.

Show me who and what is near me

Give me the ability to search and query using my current (GPS) location

Give me (spatial) tools to help me run my business

The (niche) GIS industry is in the process of reinventing itself. Our blog post suggesting GIS is Splitting was met with a considerable reaction: from outright agreement to “what do these guys know they don’t even have GIS in their title!”

We don’t actually believe GIS is splitting, but it is definitely changing. In 2014 we saw a more polarised GIS sector; on one end traditional GIS, or business as usual. On the other emerging GIS; the wild west of GIS: uncharted, rule free, a little scary, but filled with opportunities. We also began to see discussions on these changes, challenges and opportunities.

2015 GIS Predictions

So what do we see for 2015?

1. More players entering the GIS market

That equates to greater competition, new ideas and approaches. In an expanding sector this is natural and healthy. For established GIS companies, this is both an opportunity, and threat. Embracing change will be the key to their success in 2015.

2. Increasing emphasis and focus from the key GIS vendors on emerging GIS

Consumer GIS, business GIS, GIS for marketing and advertising, location analytics. These are but a few of the newly emerging, in demand areas for location technology. 2015 will see a much greater emphasis put on these new emerging applications of location technology.

3. A flood of new ideas and applications of location technology

I’ll pick on three examples from 2014 which I thought were excellent new spatial ideas. What3words have taken a new look at addressing. By breaking the world up into 3 m squares, and providing a 3 word address for each square, they have built a universal addressing system. We are located at occupiers.breakdowns.blazed. With Uber you can get a taxi, private car or rideshare from your mobile phone. Theirs is a system and app driven by spatial technology, and a huge disruption to the traditional taxi paradigm. GISi are doing some very interesting work with indoor GIS

We will see more What3words, GISi indoors and Ubers in 2015: new disruptive workflows driven by location technology.

4. Increasing emphasis on Integration

Dare we say ‘playing nice with others”. 2015 will see a flood of GIS integrations with other systems. There is a huge interest now in leveraging the power of GIS to help to run business’. Traditional business systems such as SAP provide very limited location based insights. That will begin to change in 2015.

As an example we have been in discussion with SAP on how to integrate with ArcGIS. How to combine business data with GIS: map visualization, spatial search, analysis and more. The video below shows a simple example of how we are approaching this integration:

5. Greater focus on Simplicity

GIS is confusing. Combine that with mobile; many different platforms (iOS, Android, Windows), and device types (smartphones, tablets, phablets), and you have a world of complexity. In 2015 we see a much greater focus put on simplicity. In hiding the complexity and providing organizations and users simple, intuitive solutions.

Let me illustrate from our experiences. We primarily build applications which are driven by location technology/GIS. Often initial customer engagements start at the application level: “We need an application which does X”. But to provide application X much is needed in the background: data, a GIS platform to serve up this data and provide other spatial services, an understanding on the users of application X; their skills, data access levels etc. A conversation focused on application X quickly becomes one of complexity and multiple parts.

We have worked hard on breaking this complexity into smaller, understandable parts. We have developed a defined 4 part process for all projects. Starting with the big picture and planning, through data prep, platform discussions and set up, to application development.

This approach has helped us focus on each of the key required pieces separately. It has proven a very effective way to help simplify the complexity.

6. More and better GIS Applications

At the end of the day location technology and GIS provide users new tools for use in and outside of work. We see a wave of new and better GIS applications being built in 2015 which are:

1. Simple and intuitive. No more complex GIS-centric, tool filled applications.
2. Accessible, and use-able by everybody.
3. Configurable and extensible. A single application which can be easily altered.
4. Cross platform and cross device. All GIS application will be use-able on any device: PC, smartphone or tablet.
5. Provide disconnected capabilities.

As a company we build GIS powered solutions which run anywhere, anytime, on any device and are accessible to all. We hope to see many others taking a similar approach in 2015.

As GIS starts to truly find its feet and adapt to these unique times, we believe 2015 will be a ground breaking year.

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Categories: ArcGIS Online, cloud GIS, Mobile ArcGIS, Mobile GIS, Web and mobile GIS

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