At the stage of maturity that GIS has achieved with more than four decades of use and users in very diverse disciplines, it would be hard to pin a stereotype on the user base. Certainly there are skills, approaches, and even similar work days among the users that might manifest themselves with similar life outlooks and even demographics, but you can no longer spot a GIS user by their gender, age, attire or other stock characteristic.
The exploding interest in unmanned aerial vehicles and systems is a global paradigm shift that began with their heavy use in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan that is now poised to rapidly accelerate. The expansion to civilian use is coupled with technology and safety innovations, and upcoming more lenient FAA regulations in the United States. The annual Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) recently held its annual meeting in Las Vegas, with such interesting news reports as an FAA planned ‘realignment’ to deal with an estimated 30,000 drones flying above the U.S. by 2020, and a growing industry valuation of $12 billion within 10 years.
This column is a follow-up to one written a few months ago, where we asked, “Will GIS in the Cloud free GIS from IT overlords?” While that column focused on issues of stunted creativity at the hands of those that control hardware and network access, it failed to address the very real issue of data gatekeepers who strictly limit access to geospatial information. Without open systems, we greatly diminish the potential of GIS to help us quickly reach a consensus for taking action.
Monday’s announcement that DigitalGlobe will combine with GeoEye brings together two of the world’s largest commercial satellite imaging companies in a deal valued at$453 million. The transaction was anticipated in light of dramatic cuts to the U.S. government’s ten-year $7.3 Billion Enhanced View Contract that each company had been awarded. The valuation is low in comparison to that prior promised revenue stream, however the final dollar figure from that contract is still pending and the combination of the companies will reduce reliance on that revenue stream.
After decades of internal organic growth, mapping giant Esri has gone on a shopping spree of late. The fact that the company has not grown through acquisition much in the past, and even indicated an aversion to such moves, clearly isn’t of relevance in today’s pace of change. Without these acquisitions, Esri would have missed significant market opportunities, and due to increased flexibility with their software platform, the integration of these tools with the Esri toolset has made the technical end of integration much easier to handle. These moves also speak to the economic strength of the private company that has been able to grow steadily without the need to focus on investor return.