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Common Ideals & New Approaches

James Slater

As part of the geospatial community it’s great to know when your solutions answer not just to individual clients but also more widely address common ideals, examples include: 1) I’m excited by possibilities without wishing to be constrained by complexities; 2) I recognize the transformative potential of geospatial technologies and want to deliver the benefit; 3) I see GIS/RS is an enabler with emphasis on applied outcomes 4) for geospatial technology to be pervasive it must be within reach of users.  These unifying themes have been regular topics of conversation and today we see the geospatial industry and others responding, sometimes in quite unexpected ways.

Firstly the cloud. Esri is well underway with ArcGIS Online and Exelis VIS has ENVI Services Engine (discussed elsewhere on ImagerySpeaks), the cloud is accepted as the method by which users will increasingly interact with geospatial software and data. The cloud promises to deliver the success of enterprise wide GIS without the overhead, however the cloud also breaks familiar commercial and operational models which have sustained software and data providers. Adjustments will need to be made and inevitably lessons will be learned. One of the first to get a jump on the market Adobe who a few weeks ago launched a rebranded suite prefixed with CC “Creative Cloud”. This has some nice features among them granting access on a flexible basis and allowing users to sample and work with new tools without needing to consider anything more than a few clicks and a small payment to get started. Early indications are that this has been well received.

Very much tied to the cloud but more of a novel implementation for mass consumption is the recent work from TIME and Google on project Timelapse which takes the Landsat archive and presents the user with an easy to use tool to navigate the world to see how the planet has changed as well as giving prefixed location stories. This is work is especially notable is the wider GIS/RS context as it neatly demonstrates the pervasive power of geospatial technologies to engage broader interest groups.

A couple of recent stories both of which mix crowd-sourcing and geospatial to extract value from Smartphone sourced information also caught my attention. Tomnod was purchased by Digital Globe and Waze has been in the news after being courted by Facebook and now Google. Both worthy of note since they accord a different way of achieving results already within the realm of GIS/RS (image interpretation/change detection and traffic/routing monitoring).

Perhaps these solutions show us where classic approaches have not sufficiently addressed need other approaches step in. My hope is this will serve to encourage solution providers to seek out creative solutions to compliment established GIS/RS methods of problem solving.

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