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January 4th, 2009
Ten Predictions for 2009

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tenfor09.jpgMuch 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 2009. On the list are technology advancements, policy initiatives and further blurring of divisions between CAD and GIS toolsets . Read the full list and please add your own observations in the comments.


Energy—The continuing interest in environmental issues is spurring increased growth in investment, political change, and the development of new technologies related to the exploration, research, monitoring and education of energy related technologies. This will become increasingly important to the geospatial community. From geographic information systems (GIS) to building efficiency and energy exploration, geospatial technologies will provide primary benefits in the renewable and traditional energy fields.

Cartography for Online Differentiation—The continuing
competition among online mapping portals such as Google Maps, Yahoo!
Maps, MapQuest, Microsoft Live Search Maps, etc. will lead to
innovations around graphic presentation and cartography. To date, some
of the most visually appealing online map content belongs to the free
and editable map product OpenStreetMap.
Growing competition will lead to innovation in style and presentation
of online mapping content that may spark a resurging interest in the
art of cartography.

Coordinate Systems and Data Quality—The focus on coordinate systems and data quality will increase as data integration in GIS/CAD rises. The emergence of geo-referenced infrastructure systems will further the integration of GIS / CAD while linking indoor and outdoor features into one seamless scalable geo-referenced coordinate system. The foundation for this integration will couple directly to  GPS enabled permanent reference networks and will also take advantage of high resolution satellite imagery capable of being used at the 1-5m level. Data quality will be an important ingredient of this integration, particularly as investments will be more closely scrutinized.

Crowd Sourced Data—The explosion of handheld mapping devices will lead to many innovative campaigns to channel the data gathering capacity of citizens and customers in order to improve decision making. Crowd-sourced information could be extremely helpful to gain a better understanding of dynamic situations or rapidly changing situations such as emergencies. A number of innovative companies will crop up in the coming year with solutions to take advantage of human sensors.

INSPIRE – There is little doubt that the Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe Directive (INSPIRE) will be a focus of attention across Europe during the next year as it is required to be implemented in early 2009. Each member country is required to implement the Directive, thereby enabling a seamless spatial infrastructure across the European Union. Many view this initial step as the beginning steps toward a more widespread and deeply engaged spatial data infrastructure (SDI).

3D Visualisation (software and hardware enabled)— Recent developments in visualisation technologies at both the computing hardware and software levels are furthering the development of street-level visualisation and photo-realistic visualisation. We are now beginning to see a connection of mobility technologies combining 3G telecommunication technologies that link directly to mapping and spatia databases. 3D will finally emerge as a workable techology with suitable support and acceptible speeds in 2009.

Geographic Design—GIS visionary Jack Dangermond has spoken
about the need to add design capability into the geospatial toolset,
and both Autodesk and Bentley are moving toward large-scale detailed
visualization tools and environments for geographies at the city scale.
This new interest in visualisation and design at a broad scale will
lead to a healthy competition that will spur innovations in tools that will make geographic design a reality, but will also further muddy the line between the capabilties of GIS and CAD tool sets.

Transportation—Several city leaders and politicians have jumped on infrastructure as an investment route in late 2008 with the hope these projects lift economies from a recession. Transportation technologies are uniquely placed because they cross both spatial technologies and energy efficiency initiatives at the same time. Rail, freight and passenger efficiency are poised to become major areas of focus in 2009 as the continuing shift toward efficiency grows and cost-minded consumers seek alternate modes of travel against growing energy costs.   

Augmented Reality
—The ubiquity of handheld devices with mapping and multimedia capabilities is leading to a growing interest in turning these devices into more intelligent agents. There are a number of research projects that are exploring new ways to use mobile devices to assist and augment navigation with discoverable information that could greatly enhance travel and fieldwork. A few such projects have proven the ability to recognize an image taken by a device’s camera that can then be matched and filled with hyperlinks that allow you to further explore any item within view.

Wide-Scale Infrastructure Spending—Plans across the globe for wide-scale investment in infrastructure to spur the economy will lead to a number of opportunities for geospatial and design firms. The interest in quick action with efficient allocation of resources and transparency in the process begs for greater CAD and GIS integration throughout the process. The speed and efficiency of this enormous investment requires the dawning of a new era of collaboration that will be spurred by government mandated requirements.




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