Editor’s note: Geospatial technologies reach maturity
by Pierre Potgieter, editor of PositionIT
A visit to the world’s largest geomatics trade fair, InterGEO, in Stuttgart, Germany revealed some interesting changes and new trends in the global geospatial landscape. It is worth paying attention to these developments as they will reach South African shores in the near future. Some of the latest product releases are already available through local distributors.
A key takeaway from the conference was how geospatial technologies are reaching maturity, shifting away from a predominant focus on performance-improvement to technological refinement. These refinements often make the solutions easier and more enjoyable to use, the workflows more productive, and furthermore, make the solutions accessible to new markets and new users.
Automation plays a key role in this shift, from improving data processing to reducing complexity such as introducing an automated calibration function in a laser scanner. There were still plenty examples of performance improvements. But innovation goes beyond hardware and software developments, and in combination with new business models these solutions bring new opportunities and benefits to the industry and society more broadly.
And that focus – on users, on society, and people – shows how what used to be a data acquisition and processing sector, is now maturing into an information sector. It is also worth noting that the conference’s tagline is “Knowledge and action for planet Earth”. It speaks not only to geotech’s many applications, but also the profession’s responsibility. Coincidentally, it is also this responsibility which Gavin Lloyd addresses in more detail in his article below. The role of geospatial technologies for all kinds of development purposes – social, environmental, economic and more – cannot be underestimated, as Oliver Chinganya from the UN Economic Commission for Africa stresses in his focus on the continent’s economic development.
With this in mind, there’s no better time than now to be in the geospatial sector and to apply the exciting tools at one’s disposal.