In the spirit of end-of-year reflections, Vector1 Media editors Jeff Thurston and Matt Ball looked back over the past 12 months to come up with the top stories of 2007. Making the list are policy changes, new technologies, industry consolidation and new products. Read the full list and please add your own observations.
1) Hexagon Shuffles the Deck – Hexagon AB, the parent company of Leica Geosystems, funded a large number of acquisitions in 2007. The Leica Geosystems Geospatial Imaging group was very active with the acquisition of IONIC and ER Mapper. The Hexagon organization also purchased Allen Precision Equipment, a reseller of survey equipment, in May and GNSS manufacturer NovAtel in late November. In early December Japanese survey equipment maker Sokkia announced the acceptance of an offer from Topcon Corporation. We can surely expect more industry consolidation in the coming year as well as an announcement regarding Hexagon’s market strategy.
2) A Year of Spatial Satellite Launches – A large number of mapping satellites were launched in 2007. These platforms include DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-1, TerraSAR-X, Radarsat-2, Cartosat-2AT, COSMO-SkyMed 2, SumbandilaSat and others. The number of countries and companies that are currently building their own space-based mapping platforms has ushered in a new era of imagery accessibility. We can expect interesting observations, and continued expansion of the interest in imagery, paricularly with GeoEye’s Geo-Eye-1 set to launch early in the new year.
3) GeoExploration Platforms Innovate Aggressively – Google added a number of features and content to their mapping platforms. Google Maps was updated with customized My Maps functionality, street view and terrain content and triangulated location in the mobile platform. Microsoft added a large amount of 3D data with many cities captured, street view content, and integration with FlightSim. Microsoft has been agressive about creating a platform for development that competes with the vision of ESRI’s ArcGIS Explorer. To date Google has primarily focused on content and features to drive traffic to their sites. We can expect continued advancements and heated competition in this space next year.
4) GIS/CAD/BIM Integration – The business case for integration of different modeling tools is heating up significantly in the architecture/engineering/construction market. The drive is to increase efficiency of the building process as well as the the energy efficiency and sustainability of the end product. The Open Geospatial Consortium is actively engaging the A/E/C community with a new testbed initiative for 2008 that should have broad implications on interporability and the role of geospatial tools in the A/E/C marketplace in the coming year.
5) Data Quality Rises Up the Ladder – The past year has seen data quality issues grow in importance, and a Data Quality Working Group has been established within the Open Geospatial Consortium. Attention is turning toward data quality due to the need for high quality information to drive many spatial applications. Built upon a number of international standards, we are likely to see a data quality framework emerge in 2008.
6) European INSPIRE Comes Into Effect – Passed as a directive of the European Parliament in March 2007, the Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE) was aims to provide a common general framework for EU Member States to enable co-ordination and the use and implementation of spatial information for policy purposes. INSPIRE is primarily oriented toward the public sector and has a full implementation date of 2019.
7) Bentley Generative Components – A new software characterized as “an associative and parametric modeling system to automate the design process and accelerate design iterations.” Generative Components captures and graphically presents both design components and abstract relationships. Used by architects and engineers, it will be interesting to watch how this software is used in geospatial applications in the future.
8) Infrastructure Needs Rise – Over the past year the need for improved infrastructure was being reported. Infrastructure is on the agenda, from the railways of eastern Europe to the major cities of Canada, from poor roadways of Africa that hinder economic growth to the need for bridge infrastructure replacement in the United States. Some estimates place the total cost of work involved at more than 2 trillion euro. At the same time a shortage of skilled labor, capable of working with infrastructure software and tools remains critical and is growing.
9) GALILEO / EGNOS – From its first inception study in 2001, the European version of a global satellite navigation and positioning system (GALILEO) has been fraught with discussions and debate. As late as this year, it seemed like the system might not survive at all. Late in 2007, after much negotiating, the system was approved by the EU with full public funding. It includes an augmentation system (EGNOS) based on GPS signals that transmit signals to provide higher terrestrial location accuracy – a system likely to also support air traffic management in the future. With one satellite currently in orbit, this system is to be fully operational by 2013.
10) Launch of Vector1Media – In late 2007 Vector1Media was launched as an alternative to traditional ‘geospatial’ media focused solely on technology. Through V1 Magazine, V1 Newsletter and V1 Blogs, the founders aim to stimulate increased interest and discussion around the processes related to spatial information with a particular focus on sustainability issues. Early growth has been exceptional as interest has expanded globally by nearly 30% per month.