Much time is spent this time of year looking forward. Vector1 Media editors Jeff Thurston and Matt Ball spent some time reflecting on emerging stories and growing trends to come up with the following predictions for 2008. On the list are advancements in virtual reality and GIS Modeling, as well as integration that will make infrastructure design, creation and maintenance much more efficient. Read the full list and please add your own observations.
1) Virtual Realty (VR) – VR is now poised to become more fully integrated into spatial information decison-making processes. VR hardware is reliable and software is easier to use. Applications will integrate existing vector features. Historical data will also play a valuable role. Utility related and educational applications are good candidates for many VR applications.
2) GIS Modeling – Progress in computer processing speeds, particularly for real-ime systems coupled to live sensors, will make spatial modelling more commonplace. GIS modelling is unique due to its capability to incorporate data from many different systems and data types at the same time. Additionally, a shift toward 3D environments will further embrace more realistic 3D modelling. International developments in spatial data infrastructure (SDI) will further promote this devmelopment.
3) Crossing the Entertainment Divide – The technologies that support animation and visualisation for fictional environments and objects common to entertainment systems, are readily integrated into spatial information applications. Common denominator’s between entertainment systems and geospatial applications include vectors, rasters, 3D, 4D, surveying technologies, textures, and visualisation techniques. At the same time, virtual and real worlds cross the VR line – a line which is becoming more flexible.
4) Carbon Offsetting for Spatial Applications – The establishment of an international Carbon Trading scheme is now reality and the value of international carbon exchanges is rapidly increasing. Since landscape technologies are likely to be used to measure, monitor and assess landscapes for carbon monitoring purposes, a logical next step is the coupling of spatial applications to financial systems for carbon offset and balancing.
5) SOA and Spatial Databases – Several companies including ESRI, ORACLE, Google and Bentley are shifting toward service oriented architectures (SOA). These architectures provide enabled spatial operations through Internet interfaces. In 2008 Microsoft is poised to begin offering Microsoft SQL Spatial Server. We believe this will have major ramifications throughout the business community due to the large number of already existing Microsoft SQL installations. The fact that Microsoft is the world’s predominate computer operating system at this time is highly significant.
6) BIM/CAD/GIS Integration – The integration of Building Information Modeling, Computer-Aided Design and Geographic Information systems will advance significantly in 2008. At the forefront of this advancement is the alliance between the Open Geospatial Consortium and the building SMART alliance. Their interoperability testbed will spark significant technological achievement to make BIM interoperable with other systems. There’s much work to be done, but the business case is clear. With worldwide construction slowdowns, the time is right to dramatically increase the efficiency of the A/E/C industry.
7) Connected Construction Sites – Several vendors are working on the concept of the connected constructions site, where individual assets and work teams are tracked and followed in space and time. These systems speed the construction process, increase the efficiency of the site, and save money in multiple areas (fuel, time, materials, etc.).This combination of GPS and cell tracking technologies on assets and work teams, coupled with sophisticated Web Services that allow for the remote management of a job site, will gain considerable ground in the coming year.
8) Earth Observation Satellites – There has been an explosion of earth observation satellites over the past five years. The plethora of platforms with diverse instrument observations will contribute greatly to our understanding of our planet in the coming year. Expect to see more diverse application of these observations, with a coupling of different resolutions and sensor outputs for more insightful research.
9) GI Science – The practitioners of GI Science will reach beyond their individual disciplines to form multi-disciplinary work groups that endeavor to understand the impact of global change. The scientific community is in great need of the integrative glue that is GI Science in order to form effective cross-disciplinary collaboration. The call to action is an urgent one, and we look forward to seeing an expanding role for spatial science and technology
10) Efficiency Standards – The LEED standards for green building have become an effective force for more efficient and green buildings. These standards are being expanded beyond a building to encompass an environmentally-conscious site, entire livable developments, and more efficient neighborhoods and even cities. Green building is an increasing force in the construction industry as energy and material costs are rising, and our impact on our planet is becoming more apparent. Spatial technology will play an important role in tracking these various metrics to ensure that these guidelines return achievable improvements in how we live.