Geospatial Ecosystem

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• Timber Harvesting

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• Methane Detection (Future Capability)

The 2024 Geospatial World Annual Edition focusses on geospatial being at the intersection of innovative tech transformation and societal impact. It is often a lynchpin in everything from designing bespoke solutions to environmental preservation, boosting defense and security, to designing supply chains that can withstand abrupt shocks.

Resilience today is more than a watchword in a post-pandemic world. It is at the heart of policy roadmaps as well as on-ground execution targets, from mobility, urban planning, to energy transition. We need spatial insights to wean away from the inordinate reliance on fossils to curb emissions, paving the way for a sustainable future for all. 2024 is peculiar in many ways – it represents a convergence of risks and threats, as well their hyper acceleration.  At the same time, it offers enormous potential for multi-faceted and immersive technology solutions.

Geopolitical instability and conflict, spiraling climate change, looming skepticism about Generative AI, and the scramble to regulate it, have been amply highlighted as the three biggest challenges confronting the world.

What’s striking about complex systems is that any disruption anywhere has ramifications felt afar, impacting everyone. Be it fragile biodiversity, lowering threshold of global warming, melting polar ice, multiplying planetary tipping points, crisis of dislocation and livelihood, or  the serpentine maze of supply chains serving as arteries of global trade and commerce, everything is interconnected and inter-linked.

Geospatial insights have become more critical than ever before to measure, monitor, mitigate. Precise spatial data is indispensable to drive consensus, galvanize public opinion, and inform decisive decision-making.

Any ecosystem is inconceivable without the infusion of new ideas, cutting-edge R&D, dynamic outlook to change, and collaborative ethos that drives a sense of participation, belonging, and rootedness. Over the decades, geospatial has been abreast of market shifts and technology evolution, and sought to catalyze it as well. A comprehensive geospatial ecosystem entails examining social changes, market dynamics, the vagaries of nature, geopolitical turmoil, and the way this intersection affects the lives of the people.

No man is an island, Entire of itself; Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. ~ John Donne, No Man is an Island

Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University, and President, United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDSN). Dr.

Co-Chair, The Earth Commission, and Professor of Environment and Development, University of Amsterdam. Dr.

4 | ANNUAL EDITION / JANUARY-MARCH 2024 REGULAR ARTICLES Editorial 6 Editor's Note 8
Happy Reading! Rob Painter 18 CEO, Trimble Nadine Alameh 26 Executive Director, Taylor Geospatial Institute Deirdre Dalpiaz Bishop 30 Chief of the Census Bureau’s Geography Division, Doris Sullivan 34 Managing Director –Innovation The Rockefeller Foundation Dr. Jeffery Sachs 38 Director of
Joyeeta Gupta 54
Gianpaolo Balsamo 62 Director, Global
World
Organization (WMO) Geospatial Systems for Sustainable Economies Data Hubs to Advance SDGs and Build Resilient Economies 10 72
Greenhouse Watch,
Meteorological

Paul

Shelli

Editor-in-Chief

Sanjay Kumar

Merkator Group BV

Mo Sarwat

Wherobots

Dr Pakhorn Apaphant

Executive Director, Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA)

Antoine Halff Chief Analyst & Co-Founder, Kayrros

Orr

and co-founder of Advanced Navigation

Joseph Seppi Senior Vice President, Woolpert

Anna Marie Cook

Jan Kestle

Environics Analytics

Vishal Dharankar

PDRL

Parag Khanna

Climate Alpha

Chad Anderson

& Managing Partner Space Capital

Maureen Haverty Principal, Investor, Seraphim Space

Nagaraja Rao Harshadeep Global Lead (Disruptive Technology), Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy Global Practice World Bank 89

Sean Wiid

UP42

Chris Sheldrick CEO & Co-Founder, what3words 91

Evan Tachovsky

Global Director Data Lab, World Resources Institute ( WRI) 92

Josef Aschbacher ESA Director General 94

Frank Tierolff CEO, Kadaster; and Co-Chair UN-GGIM Europe

GV Sreeramam

NeoGeoinfo Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

Managing Editor

Prof. Arup Dasgupta

Contributing Editors

Global Defense and Security

Keith J. Masback

North America

Myrna James

Deputy Executive Editor

Geospatial World

Aditya Chaturvedi Europe

Sr. Assistant Editor

Nibedita Mohanta

Sr. Sub Editors

Sachin Awana

Jeffy Jacob

Chief Designer

Subhash Kumar

Visualizers

Pradeep Chauhan

Saurabh Srivastava

Circulation

Shweta Singh

Vijay Singh

Disclaimer

Geospatial

A

Owner,

Jack Dangermond Founder, Esri 14 Andrew Anagnost President, Autodesk 16 Paolo Guglielmini President and CEO, Hexagon 20 Mike Nefkens CEO, HERE Technologies 22 Ronda Schrenk CEO, United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) 24 Ricardo Conde President, Portuguese Space Agency 28 Chiara Manfletti CEO, Neuraspace 32
Becker President, Federal Agency for Cartography and Geodesy, Germany 33 Miriam Daniel VP, GM, Google Maps 36
Coughenour Betancourt President & CEO, Cadasta Foundation 40 Juan Tomás Hernani CEO, Satlantis 42 David Henderson Chief Geospatial Officer, Ordnance Survey 44 Prateep Basu CEO, SatSure 45 Nicholas Brown Head of Office, United Nations Global Geodetic Centre of Excellence (UN-GGCE) 46 George Zhao Chairman & CEO, CHC Navigation 48 Dr.
Arai Founder & CEO, Synspective 50
Amy
Motoyuki
Brunswick CEO and Founder, SB Global LLC 52
Saoud Humaid Salim Al Shoaili Head, National Space Program, Oman 57
Victor Khoo Director, Survey and Geomatics Singapore Land Authority 58
Dean
Geo-information
University of Twente 60 Geert
CEO,
64
Dr.
Dr.
Professor Freek Van Der Meer
of the Faculty
and Earth Observation (ITC),
De Coensel
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CEO,
68
70
CEO
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76
Co-Founder,
78
Xavier
Kamilo
President,
80
CTO,
82
CEO,
84
86
Founder
88
90
CEO,
96
CEO,
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MULTI-DISCIPLINARY OUTLOOK FOR FUTURE

In 2024, geospatial will be defined by convergence, cooperation, and collaboration to meet the challenges looming ahead. Climate Change has become a reality with the temperature exceeding the Paris limit of 1.5 degrees.

Geopolitics is disturbing global cooperation for sustainable development. War in Europe and the Middle East poses humanitarian and environmental challenges. Meanwhile, space has been littered with junk and ever-growing constellations vying for superiority in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

It is interesting to observe that the geospatial industry is finally acknowledging that people-centric solutions are the need of the hour. Amid all the razzle dazzle of technology, the main purpose of geospatial solutions is to create a better world for people to inhabit.

The emerging reality of Climate Change is forcing administrations to acknowledge that Sustainable Development is no longer just the subject of erudite seminar papers but a burning real-world necessity. The recent IPPC report has highlighted the symbiotic and dangerous relationship between unsustainable development patterns and escalating climate change.

Sustainable Development is the best long term solution to Climate Change mitigation and adaptation. All 17 of the SDGs can significantly contribute to major climate change factors such as energy systems, urban and Infrastructure, land systems, society livelihoods and economies and industry both in terms of mitigation and adaptation. Each of these major areas use geospatial systems, but in silos.

Geospatial has evolved technologically by using the best available from computers to Expert Systems, IoT, Big Data and AI to name a few. A higher level convergence is seen with Business Intelligence, BIM, ERP and Digital Twins. However, the convergence at the societal level is yet to mature. In 1999, the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, which is the basis of all geospatial activities, stated that the impact and influence of GIS on individuals and societies needs to be studied.

For this, it is necessary to draw upon advances in cognitive and information science, and also from more specialized research fields such as computer science, statistics, mathematics, and psychology, and contributes to progress in those fields. While the fields of computer science, statistics and mathematics are well addressed as of today, the study of human-technology interaction

is not understood very well. This does lead to the rejection or partial acceptance of projects. Smart Cities is one such example of failure to enthuse the common public.

Smart cities have transformed into Digital Twins but that is not enough. There is a move for a Digital Twin of the Earth which might also address among others the global impact of Climate Change. Meteorology has long recognized that a better understanding of weather and climate can only happen if the earth and its atmosphere is considered as a single interactive system. Sustainable development is citizen focused and this requires attention to socio-economic factors and individual psychology. Thus, geospatial must address research in political science and anthropology, drawing on those fields in studies of geographic information and society.

The war in Europe is impacting countries hitherto reliant in Russia for energy. Germany, once the powerhouse of manufacturing, is feeling the pinch as energy costs have risen due to sanctions on Russia. It now has to import electricity at a higher costs as renewables are unable to meet the demand.

The alternative, to re-activate mothballed thermal power plants, will have adverse effects on global warming. Apart from this, there is a huge environmental and human toll attached to the destruction of infrastructure in Ukraine and Gaza. Rebuilding the infrastructure will be a huge geospatial opportunity. But it should also be noted that transport, industry and buildings are the biggest contributors of greenhouse gases. The Group of 20 or G20 has evolved to become the torchbearer of two-thirds of the global population, accounting for around 85% of gross world product (GWP), 75% of international trade, and 60% of the world's land area.

The group in its 2023 summit decided to work toward a human-centric development approach that aligns with the concerns of the Global South, including addressing strong, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive growth, and accelerating progress on SDGs. To achieve this, digital public infrastructure and multilateral institutions need to be aligned towards the needs and aspirations of the 21st Century.

2024 thus could be a transformational year which can set the tone and pace for the use of geospatial systems for inclusive human development.

6 | ANNUAL EDITION / JANUARY-MARCH 2024 EDITORIAL

GEOAI AND PLATFORMS: POWERING RESILIENT ECONOMIES

We are in a Digital Age. Get ready to be digital or be out of the game. This is true for all business enterprises and governance institutions, unless you don’t want to acknowledge the fast-approaching irrelevancy and natural exit.

I hate to accept this truth, but reality is what one can build by efficiently using digital tools in a year, may take few years to get hang of it otherwise. And by the time one succeeds, it gets outdated because someone else with better understanding and adoption of digital technology has made it work.

Though what excites me the most is growing recognition of combined value of space infrastructure and geospatial analytics in overall digital environment.

Host of technology innovations across Digital Twins, Metaverse, Generative AI, and Automation is driving geospatial crazy, but at the same time, it’s opening huge opportunities to make digital more real and immersive by adding visualization and real-time insights. This plays a critical role in next generation models of business and governance.

Generative AI and Platforms

As we consume more and more digital, we continue to share our lifestyles, business workflows, and beyond. This is the real data that’s making generative AI more customized and accurate – and we get served back with more structured behavioral patterns and insights.

As a consumer, I may use several apps, but as a business person, I would prefer developing my own platform. So, it’s obvious that generative AI and platforms will be biggest drivers of next few years. Instead of getting into complexities of data matrix, I would love to visually understand interdependence of workflows, assets, market outreach, and likely threats.

Space and geospatial industry are all about integrating and enriching data ecosystem and delivering actionable insights, to support Digital Twins of everything powered by generative AI and platforms of everything.

Environmental and Social Governance

Undoubtedly, civilization is challenged by existential crisis. Thereby it’s imperative to co-create sustainable

living today so that we can leave behind knowledge and resources for our loved ones – the next generations.

ESG is an approach towards attaining ‘sustainability of everything’, through integrating ESG principles within workflows of every aspect of business and governance. It’s not limited to advocacy for climate resilience but includes principles and practices for advancing sustainable economies and societies.

Geospatial Knowledge Infrastructure provides an integrated approach to measure, model, monitor, and manage resources, assets, connected workforce, and associated risks, thereby contributing towards productivity, efficiency, transparency, and compliance – the four pillars of ‘sustainability of everything’.

Data Sovereignty and Security

Today, nations are grappling with growing influence, power, and outreach of digital platforms. The line between ‘Right to Information’ and ‘Right of Influencers’ is very thin.

Often influencers do not limit themselves to consumers, but go well beyond, disrupting businesses and governance institutions, ultimately touching to core of national security and sovereignty.

Resilient national digital ecosystems, duly augmented by space infrastructure and geospatial solutions, are critical determinants of sustainable and secure national development goals.

Integrated national space and geospatial policies and strategy is the need of the hour, and so as robust and effective governance models, supporting progressive adoption of generative AI, and building in protection and security mechanisms.

While it’s time to invest strategically in digital infrastructure and utilize the best available in global market, it’s equally crucial to create an environment of innovation and entrepreneurship that fosters growth, resilience, as well as data sovereignty.

8 | ANNUAL EDITION / JANUARY-MARCH 2024 EDITOR'S NOTE

Geospatial Systems for Sustainable Economies

In order to build adaptive, responsive, and resilient economies, it is essential to tackle multiple complex challenges which is only possible through precise, actionable insights.

The world is facing myriad global challenges—including climate change, pandemics, and conflict. At the same time, many developing countries are dealing with shrinking growth prospects, weakening investment, and surging debt. These trends are reversing hard-won development gains and threatening progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals

~ World Bank Annual Report 2023

So there it is, a snapshot of the challenges ahead in 2024 and beyond. The era of unbridled growth is over and economies have to understand that de-growth is a better option for a sustainable earth.

The world needs to make sound climate related investments, promote

simpler living by implementing more efficient use of the worlds natural resources to prolong their availability, and use the Internet to sensitize people and make them participants in the development story.

These challenges have to be addressed in a holistic manner with geospatial

10 | ANNUAL EDITION / JANUARY-MARCH 2024
ARTICLE

systems being integrated with other technologies to provide solutions which address human and environmental needs.

The whole can be subdivided into four major groups of activities. The first is integration of technologies to provide solutions.

The second is to consider solutions as a part of a bigger effort aimed at a better quality of life which is the goal of the third group of activities – addressing Climate Change and Sustainable Development.

Finally, with the maturing of interactive communications systems like the Internet and Web 3.0 it is now possible to address the fourth group – citizen involvement in accepting, promoting and participating in achieving the goals set out by the challenges.

Technology Integration

Traditionally geospatial technologies have adopted and adapted emerging technologies in the fields of computer science and communications. As George Zhao, Chairman & CEO, CHC Navigation says, “The geospatial industry has always embraced innovation, and today, the convergence of AI, machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly reshaping the landscape.”

Adds Mo Sarwat, CEO, Wherobots, "AI and predictive analytics have emerged of great utility for everything from weather forecasting to agricultural production.”

He further goes on to state that “An underlying trend these days is bringing spatial context into data stack instead of having a completely new GIS stack.”

Tomás Hernani, CEO, Satlantis adds that “The focus on miniaturization and ultra-high pixel techniques has led to the development of instruments capable of achieving resolutions previously deemed impossible.”

Dr. Victor Khoo, Director, Survey and Geomatics, Singapore Land Authority believes “The future of geospatial domain is intrinsically linked to its ability to integrate with emerging technologies, foster innovative ecosystems, and contribute to sustainable development.”

Hernani adds that, “Methane detection, for example, illustrates the practical application of these technologies. By equipping satellites with the capability to capture multi-spectral and short-wave infrared data,

The era of unbridled growth is over and economies have to understand that de-growth is a better option for a sustainable earth.

scientists can now identify and quantify methane emissions with greater accuracy.

This capability is crucial for monitoring environmental health and ensuring regulatory compliance.”

“By translating environmental challenges into quantifiable data, technology is providing a pathway to actionable, impactful solutions.”

Ricardo Conde, President, Portuguese Space Agency and Ronda Schrenk, CEO, United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) have added the factor of Open Data as one of the means to enhance data accessibility and usage. This also leads to the issues of interoperability and standardization.

Holistic Applications

“Most of the big Fortune 500 companies today are problem-solvers, and it won’t be an overstatement to say that over 90% of them have a spatial use-case.

Salience of geospatial is a recurring thread all across”, says Sarwat, highlighting the need to look at total integrated solutions rather than a specific geospatial solution.

He goes on to add, as an example that “… over a decade back the insurance sector was not geospatially context driven, while today most insurance companies have a spatial strategy.”

According to Zhao “Geospatial data acts as a digital image of the whole world and its use translates to enhanced sustainability, climate resilience, optimized supply chains, and smarter infrastructure investments.

He adds that, ”The strategic use of geospatial data for consolidation and responsible infrastructure development has the potential to have a profound impact on local, national, and global economies”.

Hernani affirms that, “A company's success hinges on strategy and customer focus, not just technology.”

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 11 ARTICLE
The IPPC report has outlined the synergy between climate change and sustainable development in the areas of adaptation and mitigation of the ill effects of global warming.

On how to achieve this he states that, “Specific customer problems should be prioritized and solved. Companies taking this initiative are leading this change. By offering a mix of hardware, software, and services tailored to the unique requirements of industries such as energy, oil and gas, and agriculture, there should be a focus on customer-centric models.

This approach enhances efficiency, reduces costs, and fosters a closer alignment with the evolving demands of the marketplace”. “The future of the space industry is not just about technological breakthroughs but about creating sustainable, impactful solutions for our planet”, he concludes.

Sarwat observes that, “Similarly, ensuring food security is of utmost importance for the future of humanity. With the help of geospatial-based smart technology, we can decrease operational costs and simultaneously boost production to feed the growing population.”

Climate Change and Sustainable Development

The IPPC report has outlined the synergy between climate change and sustainable development in the areas of adaptation and mitigation of the ill effects of global warming.

Endorsing this Zhao adds, “Cloud-based geospatial solutions can guide informed decisions that strike a vital balance between economic progress and environmental stewardship”.

Sarwat avers that, “With a lot of startups trying to study weather patterns, track pollution, or map carbon footprint, geospatial takes the center-stage in Climate Change mitigation effort as well”.

Jack Dangermond, Founder, Esri recognizes the need when he states that, “As humans, our biggest challenge today is creating a sustainable future. Here, I think geospatial professionals and geospatial technology providers have a big role to play. It’s all about leveraging our best geographic science, technology and creative design thinking to find solutions to both climate change and protecting biodiversity.”

Zhao concurs that, “The key to sustainable transformation lies in the strategic integration of innovative technologies into society, both economically and environmentally.

People’s Involvement

While discussing technologies and their applications professionals tend to address the needs of an unknown entity called the ‘end users’. Who are these end users?

Managers, administrators, stakeholders or the citizens? Often the last entity is forgotten and professionals are surprised when a particular project fails to enthuse citizens.

Professor Freek Van Der Meer, Dean of the Faculty Geo-information and Earth Observation (ITC), University of Twente states, “Universities need to really engage and collaborate with society. That is the kind of transformation, the society needs, where research, education and innovation become the single thread of co-creation”.

“We need to connect social scientists, and people working in communication to culture. Through a multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach, we need to bring together communities”

Jeffrey Sachs, Director of Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University, and President, United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDSN) adds, “We are in a period of deeply disruptive technological change, where disruption means fundamentally new ways of facing problems, engaging in work, doing research, etc.”

“Our challenge is to harness new technologies for the human good, rather than for warfare, surveillance, fake news, rising inequality, , and conflict. It’s not easy, because our governments and businesses are not adequately and systematically working for the global common good.”

As is often stated, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This holds true for geospatial systems and applications. Perhaps the ultimate role of technologies can be summed up as:

“The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everything in life until they are indistinguishable from it.” Mark Weiser, CTO, Xerox PARC, also referred as the Father of Ubiquitous Computing.

12 | ANNUAL EDITION / JANUARY-MARCH 2024
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14 | ANNUAL EDITION / JANUARY-MARCH 2024 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024
Jack Dangermond Founder, Esri

GIS as an Enterprise System

The geospatial field continues expanding rapidly, fueled in part by the deployment of Geographic Information Systems (GISs).

Increasingly these systems are being implemented as enterprise IT systems supporting mission critical workflows that cut across organizations and leverage shared geospatial data. The open nature of a modern GIS makes these organization-wide deployments both easy and enormously valuable.

GeoAI and Gen AI

The GIS field is getting smarter, leveraging AI in two areas, GeoAI with traditional computer vision modeling and Generative AI using Large Language Models (LLMs).

Esri has been actively creating and making available GeoAI models for use with many types of imagery. These models create derivative data layers that can be directly used in GIS analytics and visualization. Examples include roads, land cover, buildings footprints, and

vegetation inventories. As sensors improve, these models are getting better, and while not always perfect, users are learning how best to integrate these models into their data management and analytic workflows.

Beyond GeoAI modeling applications, large language modeling (generative AI) is also emerging as a whole new technology for integrating natural language interfaces with GIS. At Esri, we are at the early stage of implementing these technologies to support a variety of workflows associated with our tools.

We believe there's value in helping users automate workflows and over time make decisions about assembling the right tools and data to address questions that only GISs can answer.

Generative AI represents something different that GIS professionals have ever had before. Its definitely promising and we all need to learn how best to leverage its power. At the same time we need to ensure to stay focused on providing truthful and

It’s all about leveraging our best geographic science, technology and creative design thinking to find solutions to both climate change and protecting biodiversity.

authoritative information to the various missions that GIS supports.

With the emergence of LLMs, the scenario gets quite exciting, especially for startups. There are opportunities for them to provide integration capabilities that we’ve never seen before.

Strategic Partnership

A “next generation” ecosystem of geospatial technologies is emerging. Vendors are increasingly creating interoperable systems that just work together out of the box and support integrated workflows. This is the result of deliberate collaboration and engineering efforts as well as strategic partnerships that overcome competitive challenges of overlapping technologies in the marketplace.

Examples of vendors doing this with Esri include Autodesk, Trimble, Adobe, Microsoft and others.

My sense is these kinds of partnerships and collaborations are enabling companies to focus on their core strengths and partner with other companies to provide more complete offerings. It’s a myth that

collaboration leads to lowered competition.

I strongly believe that over time vendors that are open, interoperable and promote open partnerships will tend to be more successful.

Collective Climate Action

As humans, our biggest challenge today is creating a sustainable future. Here, I think geospatial professionals and technology providers have a big role to play. It’s all about leveraging our best geographic science, technology and creative design thinking to find solutions to both climate change and protecting biodiversity.

This means creating better understanding and integrating this information into the way that humans plan and manage the future.

Geography, GIS and the “Geographic Approach” provide a framework for thinking and acting. Geospatial professionals and the geospatial field have a huge opportunity to make a difference, creating better understanding and a platform for sustainable action. What we do now will be responsible for what the future holds.

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 15 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

AI ADOPTION KEY TO DIGITAL FUTURE

16 | ANNUAL EDITION / JANUARY-MARCH 2024 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024
Andrew Anagnost President, Autodesk

Partnerships encourage the concept of business integration, enabling companies to move forward and deliver stakeholder value. Though there’s a need to connect information and data at a level of granularity.

For this, it’s crucial to go beyond the conventional methods and initiate a true mindset shift. This is especially needed when Cloud is concerned.

The hard task is initiating a paradigm shift that takes people forward. Microsoft Office 365 and its ability to work in a Cloud environment from anywhere real-time is a good example.

Tech companies often need to retrain core skillsets to evolve over the course of time. Office 365 story is illustrative here as well– an older suite of product moving to a new Cloud-based, high granularity paradigm.

Future Native

Part and parcel of our philosophy is to introduce tools natively built for the future. Over the past decade, we underwent a shift towards a Cloud native company.

Though it requires heavy investment, the main benefit is the ability to use the massive computing power to train Machine Learning (ML) models, which eventually lead to AI tools in a collaborative design interface.

With the cost of computing getting cheaper every year, we are entering a world where investment in Cloud capability allows deploying transformative AI agents. Moving our portfolio to the Cloud has become foundational to us.

AI is going to ignite the spark of creativity, as it reduces the time people spend on labor intensive tasks. AI can only work best when it collaborates with humans.

We are still a long way away from an AI agent that can fully create what an output that is good as what a human can create over a long period of time.

Most successful people in the future are going to be those who collaborate with AI to the highest degree. There’s no point in being afraid of AI, or worrying whether it will replace humans, rather we should try to leverage it as much as we can.

Industry leaders who master AI collaboration and reap maximum advantage out of it will stay ahead of the curve in innovation as well as business models. This is the ground truth.

Organic Evolution

Technology should evolve and play out on its own pace. Attempts to control it can destroy its potential. Regulations need to be instituted only for those areas that can have an adverse impact on people’s lives. There’s a

By the next decade, the impact of AI across sectors would be so tremendous that companies can only wait today at their own peril.

need of a fine balance over stringent regulations that would impede the development of newer Machine Learning models.

Regulators in Washington DC need to talk to experts in academia, industry and other places so that they can regulate AI smartly.

We shouldn’t repeat the mistake we made with social media platforms: with the clause that said they are not accountable for the content on their platform.

For a long time, this was the attitude and the law regarding the internet. The disastrous consequences are upon us – highly addictive tools, mental health issues, and fake news amplification.

Similarly, we won’t want AI to decide who to imprison unless there’s a completely unbiased algorithm behind it.

Increasingly, a lot of crossover is happening across technologies that is leading to cross pollination. This is what Autodesk platform services is all about too.

We want all cross-pollinating technologies to be in the same platform,

so that the user can avail maximum benefit of evolving technologies irrespective of the stack.

Digital Future

People need to embrace the digital future, which includes the Cloud. There’s a need to figure out how AI can improve processes and workflows, instead of being wary about it and avoiding it.

Organizations need to reap the first-mover advantage in terms of AI adoption. The AEC sector has to pick up the momentum digitally. A lot of old processes are no longer sustainable.

Companies that move fast on digital will benefit the most out of Cloud and AI. They are going to define the future of AEC and geospatial. The choice before companies today is either to adopt AI or get overrun by those who embrace it faster.

By the next decade, the impact of AI across sectors would be so tremendous that companies can only wait today at their own peril.

The column is based on a conversation with Andrew Anagnost during GeoBuiz 2024

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 17 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

Connected Workflows

Enabling Efficiency

An interaction with Rob Painter, CEO, Trimble on the company's focus, automation and connected processes and more.

Trimble has a long history of innovation and empowering industries. What are a few examples?

When we talk about “the why” of Trimble, we say, “feed the world, move the world, build the world.” We have a mission of transforming the way the world works. How we approach that is by delivering products and services that connect the physical and digital worlds.

When it comes to innovation, we put over 15% of our revenue into research and development every year, which means we’ve spent literally billions of dollars on innovation in the last three to four years.

In agriculture, we’re going to need 69% more calories to feed the world's growing population by the year 2050. How are we going to do that? We are using spatial technology

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In the world of construction, by doing the work right the first time, you eliminate the rebuild, which drives a lot of that waste and inefficiency. You have a sustainability benefit using our guidance and automation construction equipment for 40-50% productivity improvements.

to increase yield while simultaneously reducing inputs. In transportation, we have a driver shortage, with annual turnover in an average trucking company at almost 100%. Imagine losing your entire team every year. Using spatial technology to overlay routing and navigation with the business systems, we could save drivers time and help eliminate the shortage.

If we look at Trimble survey and geospatial technologies—our origin story—we are innovating at the edge of GNSS technology still today, through innovations such as tilt compensation and advanced positioning engines that are helping surveyors work more efficiently in areas in which they've never been able to easily use GNSS in before.

How is Trimble connecting the physical world to the digital world—and back?

Trimble is known for our positioning and sensing technologies. We think of the technology stack as the intersection of “the where, the what and the why.” The “where” is spatial intelligence, the precision of the geometry.

The “what” looks like adding relevant attributes to enrich the spatial data, and the “why” looks at the problems we are trying to solve. We have a strategy of “connect and scale” to connect users, data, stakeholders, and workflows across the industry lifecycle. We build capabilities to do that.

How important is collaboration to you?

Extremely important. We see an opportunity to move from

optimizing tasks to optimizing systems, which we do with partners like Esri and Autodesk. Independent companies have tech that optimizes tasks, so the next higher order opportunity is to solve for the systemic problems.

You have acquired many companies, including those with software for imagery processing. How has that enabled automation? Well, we haven't talked about AI yet. eCognition’s feature extraction and Inpho’s photogrammetry workflows are certainly part of our concerted strategy to complement what happens with sensors.

That's “the where” plus “the what” and “the why” that really help enable a workflow. Many of us in this industry have been doing AI and machine learning for years— we just didn't brag about it.

We were doing IoT before there was IoT. We've been doing autonomy before there was autonomy. We've been doing AI since before it was AI. We've missed a bunch of branding waves that maybe we need to get on!

So really, it's enabling the company to dive into the AI space with these features, and then to take it further?

Yes, and it's not AI for the sake of AI. What are we trying to do? We're trying to get data and turn it into information, something actionable.

The first thing you said was “feed the world.” You're leveraging technology for the sake of humanity, ultimately. And not everyone can say they're doing that.

I think the biggest sustainability benefits come through the application of our technology. In our “feed the world” arena for agriculture, with a machine learning application, we can detect the weed from the crop and spot spray, reducing the applied herbicide by 80-90%. That's a profound benefit to the Earth.

In the world of construction, by doing the work right the first time, you eliminate the rebuild, which drives a lot of that waste and inefficiency.

You have a sustainability benefit using our guidance and automation construction equipment for 40-50% productivity improvements.

We spend so much time talking about what it costs to build our infrastructure or buildings, but more than 80% of the lifetime cost of those assets takes place after they're put in place. It is critical to link these workflows.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

We have talked about a connected farm, a connected site, a connected supply chain, a connected forest, connected rail, connected utilities...

We've moved our strategy over the last few years to connecting what we've got better together, so we can show up as one Trimble to you, to the industry.

When I talk about our purpose, “feed the world, move the world, build the world,” that's something worth showing up for. That's work worth doing.

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 19 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

FORCE FOR GOOD AMID TURBULENT TIMES

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Paolo

The future of geospatial lies in seamless integration with emerging innovations such as AI through open digital platforms. The way forward is an interconnected digital ecosystem that breaks down data silos.

We envision a world where reality technologies transform complex data about people, places, and assets into meaningful information and capabilities for better, faster decision-making in public safety, utilities, defence, transportation, and government.

Minimizing Gaps

The proliferation of geospatial data and applications in the cloud has transformed decision-making processes, enabling real-time actionable insights.

However, a critical challenge, the data leverage gap, hinders the comprehensive and valuable use of the vast amounts of data generated, particularly in sectors like construction, manufacturing and surveying.

There is a need to close this gap and help customers realize the full value of their data assets to optimise their businesses' productivity, efficiency, safety and quality. Data must be fully leveraged so business, industry, and humanity can thrive responsibly.

One approach to closing the data leverage gap involves the use of autonomous solutions for jobsite productivity monitoring. Reality capture technology eliminates the need for manual data collection by continuously providing real-time information

about the environment.

Enhanced Transparency

The significance of automation lies in its ability to enhance data quality and organize real-time, highly accurate data into a common environment. The aggregated data serves as a single source of truth for all stakeholders involved in a project.

Architects, engineers, project managers, city planners, and policymakers access consistent, up-todate information. This transparency fosters collaboration, reduces errors, and ensures informed decision-making.

AI algorithms analyze and interpret the data, extracting actionable insights. Decision-makers gain visibility into project progress, resource allocation, and potential risks. Whether it’s optimising supply chains, monitoring environmental impact, or ensuring safety compliance, AI-driven insights drive better outcomes.

Embracing spatial technology requires a holistic approach. Decision-makers must recognize the data leverage gap, adopt autonomous tools, create a unified data environment, and leverage AI for sustainable transitions.

Comprehensive geospatial ecosystems will be built on open platforms that remove friction in data acquisition, sharing and analysis. A shift from standard geospatial data products, such as ortho imagery and geo-referenced point clouds, to semantic worlds in which

Digital reality solutions, sensors, software, and autonomous technologies will be critical across industries to reduce inefficiencies, combat labour shortages, and make processes safer and more sustainable.

AI automatically provides meaning to the acquired data will enable drastically new applications in the geospatial ecosystem.

New Mandate

Geospatial agencies have always played a critical role in building resilient economies. Now they are transforming and becoming increasingly central to major national priorities, such as command and control and mission planning, as they move from creating basic maps to offering leading-edge digital solutions.

Data collected by them is used by dozens of national government organisations, local governments, councils, and private industry to make decisions related to wetland ecosystems, urban development, deforestation, agricultural production, climate change and flooding.

They empower businesses and governments to leverage location intelligence and make data-driven decisions by migrating high-quality geospatial data to the cloud and making it accessible through modern platforms.

This is especially important at a time of climate crisis, geopolitical turmoil, and economic slowdown. Geospatial is poised to help

companies and countries deal with these challenges. Digital reality solutions, sensors, software, and autonomous technologies will be critical across industries to reduce inefficiencies, combat labour shortages, and make processes safer and more sustainable.

Innovative Architectures

In an uncertain world, technology can be a unifying force when used to deliver change responsibly. We focus on sustained collaboration with customers globally to solve shared challenges like climate change, labour shortages, and resilient infrastructure.

Sustainable development requires balancing economic progress and environmental stewardship. Innovations in sensors, software, AI, and geospatial solutions empower users with the actionable insights needed to optimise operations, resources, and processes.

Open platforms and architecture allow seamless integration with existing tools, making the benefits of the cloud accessible without prohibitive costs or lengthy integration processes. Rather than dividing, we endeavour to build bridges and forge new ways of thinking to drive positive transformation.

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 21 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

LOCATION INTEL FOR SEAMLESS SUPPLY CHAINS

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Digital mapping and location intelligence is critical to the world economy. They facilitate efficient and sustainable movement of people, goods and services.

Location information is the anchor for valuable insights into spatial relationships, patterns and trends.

Real-Time Insights

Logistic companies increasingly rely on access to a dynamic representation of their fleets on the road network to quickly react to unexpected events in the supply chain.

A near real-time view of reality empowers fleet and supply chain managers to quickly react to events, maintain accurate estimated time of arrival (ETA) predictions on point, as well as continuously evaluate if better routes are available.

As governments focus on reducing logistics costs through unified interfaces and enabling policies, the integration of advanced technologies such as Location Services, AI, IoT, and data analytics will continue to unfold.

These technologies have already started optimizing supply chain processes, enhancing real-time tracking, and improving overall efficiency. In the coming year, we can expect a deeper integration of

these technologies, leading to more intelligent and automated logistics operations.

To best embrace spatial tech, organizations need to prioritize data supply and governance, systems integration and collaboration, internally as well as with external technology partners.

By leveraging cloudbased geospatial platforms, decision-makers gain access to near realtime insights that enable addressing business needs while advancing sustainable development goals.

This requires a shift in mindset and investment in skills development, data literacy, and technology infrastructure.

Building a Greener World

From a sustainability perspective, location-aware applications can improve operational efficiency, reduce fuel consumption, waste and environmental impact.

Geospatial data helps city planners design cities and transportation systems that prioritize walkability, public transit, and green spaces, thereby reducing carbon emissions and enhancing quality of life.

It also helps support sustainable supply chain management by providing insights into fleet optimization throughout the first, middle, and last mile,

Investing in research and development, supporting start-ups and entrepreneurs, and incentivising crosssector partnerships is crucial for driving innovation in the geospatial space.

while helping to measure the environmental impacts of sourcing and production processes.

Moreover, location intelligence enables businesses to dynamically adjust their supply chains in response to changing market conditions, disruptions, and risks.

By analyzing real-time data on factors such as weather patterns and transportation infrastructure, companies can identify potential bottlenecks or vulnerabilities. Proactively re-route their supply chains to ensure continuity of operations.

Collaborative Transformation

As we observe geospatial thinking increasingly fostering among businesses and citizens, HERE is committed to help unleash the true value of geospatial technology, data and information.

We need to focus on opening market access to geospatial data and promoting an open ecosystem to foster collaboration between public and private

sectors. For instance, for the National Geospatial Policy of India to unlock full potential, it is essential to ensure equitable market practices that create a level playing field for all stakeholders.

Additionally, investing in research and development, supporting start-ups and entrepreneurs, and incentivizing cross-sector partnerships is crucial for driving innovation in the geospatial space.

We strongly believe in collaborative transformation through open dialogue, partnerships, and technology innovation.

By providing flexible, reliable, and scalable digital mapping and location solutions, we aims to empower governments, businesses and communities with the capabilities needed to work towards common goals.

Collaboration with international companies encourages the transfer of cutting-edge technologies and methodologies, which enhance the capabilities of companies and professionals.

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 23 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

THE SPATIAL ARC OF PROGRESS

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The possibilities of geospatial are endless across a myriad of industries. Some prominent examples include smart cities and urban planning where the combination of geospatial data and AI can enhance urban planning and development.

Smart cities may leverage real-time data from IoT devices, satellite imagery, and Machine Learning algorithms to optimize traffic management, energy consumption, and overall urban infrastructure.

Cross-industry collaboration is gaining momentum due to blurring of boundaries between geospatial and other technologies.

Be it logistics and finance, or disaster response and management, geospatial data offers crucial insights for better decision-making and operational efficiency.

Data Integration

Integrating geospatial data with AI can significantly improve response time and focus resource management in the most critical places.

Predictive modeling, real-time monitoring, and automated decision-making can help authorities respond more effectively to natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires.

Emerging technologies such as satellite-based internet

constellations and space-based manufacturing can open up new avenues for economic growth and innovation.

These technologies can provide improved connectivity, enable new business models, and foster economic dynamism.

If we consider how the global economy expanded during the transition from national market focus towards global markets, just think what growth can be achieved by further connecting the planet’s population through geospatially enabled, space-based access to markets.

Geospatial and space technologies provide valuable insights into climate change patterns.

Monitoring changes in the environment, such as deforestation, sea level rise, and greenhouse gas emissions, allow informed decision-making and the development of strategies to mitigate the economic impact of climate change.

Real-time Insights

Cloud and near real-time access to a deluge of data presents tremendous opportunities

Policy and tradecraft must focus on creating the conditions that allow us to trust the data in the moment. However, I like to focus on the opportunity these developments provide decision-makers. Embracing spatial tech-

We should explore opportunities for collaboration between government agencies, private sector, academia, and research institutions to create the desired ecosystem

nology provides a key avenue for increased data integration and seamless interoperability.

Open data initiatives are extremely important to foster the geospatial ecosystem.

Supporting open data initiatives and making geospatial data freely available to the public whenever possible can spur innovation by allowing a wide range of users access to create new capabilities.

Collaborative Models

Spatio-temporal data ties us all together. Crowdsourced data is an untapped resource whose value is relevant across geographies to gather local inputs to drive better decisions at all levels.

Additionally, stakeholders across the globe can discuss, analyze, critique, and collaborate using the same data.

There’s a need to look for collaborative opportunities between government agencies, private sector, academia, and research institutions to drive farther faster in creating the desired ecosystem.

However, there’s also a need to spend significant time developing legal frameworks and ethical guidelines to address those who try to turn our efforts towards malicious or dangerous intent.

As we provide more open access to geospatial data and as new space companies bring down cost, we should see a natural progression of increased collaboration and innovation.

Unfortunately, misinformation and disinformation plays a role in how people see their version of the truth. However, the rigor our companies apply will have an increasingly positive effect on how the truth is presented, enabling us to bridge divides and move forward together.

We should encourage the creation of datasharing platforms and collaborative communities to facilitate knowledge exchange and problem-solving.

Communities need to self-regulate for responsible use of data and focus on the collective human good.

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 25 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

Time For Geospatial is Now

Exclusive Interview with Nadine Alameh on geospatial innovation, social impact, complex global challenges, and more. She is the inaugural Executive Director of the Taylor Geospatial Institute, a consortium of 8 academic and research institutions led by Saint Louis University.

You have been associated with the geospatial industry for a long time. How do you feel about taking the helm of the Taylor Geospatial Institute? It’s a privilege because there’s never been a better time to make an impact at scale with geospatial!

And yes, I have been saying this every year for the last 20

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years. I said it in the late 90s, when I was a student at MIT, experimenting with the first Web Map Service (WMS) serving bits and pieces of Landsat Imagery and in a simple format that could be layered with other data sources.

I said it at the turn of the 21st Century, when we all witnessed the power of geospatial in the 9/11 rescue efforts – using data from thermal sensors, aerial imagery, LIDAR, and more. I said it when Google Earth and Google Maps became household names in the early 2000s.

I said it in the mid-2000s when I worked at the NASA GeoSciences Interoperability Office to make it easy for researchers everywhere to use the voluminous NASA Earth Science data. I said it when the Geospatial Data Act was signed into law in 2018. And I said it when COVID-19 made geospatial front-page news in 2020!

I continue to believe that now is the perfect time for geospatial to exert a positive global impact: as I see space exploration and utilization expand and intersect with geospatial, as I constantly hear the phrase “GeoAI”, and as I see the shift of geospatial from 2D to 3D all the way to the Metaverse – like when Epic Games recently announced a new plugin bringing Geospatial 3D datasets to Unreal Engine!

Geospatial innovation impacts multiple sectors and could help us solve some of the most complex global challenges. How do we harness its untapped potential?

For those of us who have been in geospatial for decades, the building excitement around geospatial is coupled with rising frustration – frustration that our vision for what geospatial can do is taking so long to realize.

I know that geospatial can revolutionize how we plan and respond to disasters, track and adapt to climate change, predict pandemics, anticipate supply chain disruptions, achieve equity, ensure sustainability, and improve the quality of life on this planet.

As the clock keeps ticking, we have not yet arrived at this reality, With climate specifically, there’s a sense of urgency. Our world is getting more, not less, challenging despite all the technological advancements and innovations.

This is why I think now is the best time to be at the Taylor Geospatial Institute (TGI). We sit at an inflection point between these bracing realities, at a fulcrum balancing humanity’s potential to address global challenges with the complex problems we face.

TGI is uniquely built to fuel geospatial research that can understand climate impact, predict disasters,

Geospatial can revolutionize how we plan and respond to disasters, track and adapt to climate change, predict pandemics, anticipate supply chain disruptions, achieve equity, ensure sustainability, and improve the quality of life on this planet.

analyze migration patterns, measure carbon sequestration, improve property insurance, and more.

How can TGI deliver on its promise to spark a revolution in geospatial science and technology that will benefit humanity?

TGI can change the scale and impact of geospatial science and technology by:

● Harnessing the power of collaborative, interdisciplinary research with hundreds of researchers across our consortium to solve problems in public health, food security, national security, disaster resilience, and more.

● Leveraging and advancing science & technology from improved sensor technology to advanced unmanned aerial vehicles and drones to applications of AI/ML to the increased sophistication of cloud native computing, supercomputing, and quantum computer & information science.

● Nurturing the next generation of not only data scientists, but also of decision and policy makers

● Partnering with industry, government, and end users for maximum impact

As a geospatial community, we are finally at a place where we can transcend the boundaries of science & technology to focus on transformative, accessible solutions to our shared problems. TGI represents the right model for this type of shift.

A community built on collaboration, bent on innovation, and aimed at impact is the only way that we can mobilize a geospatial research effort that is scaled appropriately to address such complex challenges.

I’ve always been one of the biggest cheerleaders for geospatial as the key to making the world better. Now, as the leader of TGI, I believe this is the right place at the right time to finally make it happen.

Interviewed by Aditya Chaturvedi

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 27 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

OPEN DATA CRITICAL FOR GLOBAL SUSTAINABILITY

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Ricardo Conde President, Portuguese Space Agency

Ensuring sustainability is indeed a global emergency and we are running out of time. This is where space-based technology and timely data accessibility can play a significant role.

Open data access should be our main goal. The public sectors can use it for KPIs to monitor, visualize, and provide services such as mapping droughts, forest fires, and biomass level. This information can also be utilized by the private sector.

Sharing data timely with national authorities enable proper planning, decision-making, and implementation.

For instance, in case of fire breakout in rural areas, it’s crucial for local authorities and stakeholders to identify hotspots to douse the flames and ensure public safety.

Space tech innovations are proving to be critical in managing forests, water, biomass, and addressing the effects of climate related events such drought, overheating, and floods.

Droughts and forest fires afflict Portugal. Earth Observation tools are vital to tackle them.

With the help of accurate data and space tech, we aim to create a national GeoHub.

Focus Area

Portuguese Space Agency’s key priority is

to build capacity for the national programs.

The other key priorities include capacity building and supporting companies to develop national programs in order to enhance space literacy.

We are developing National Geohub, in order to advance “a policy of national Earth observation data in high and very high resolution”.

Open data policy for the country is our main initiative that will concentrate all the data available for free to develop downstream applications.

This is our responsibility as national entity is to provide answers about the dynamics of the territory with a certain frequency of data inflow that we can implement in daily operations.

Challenges Ahead

One of the challenges confronting Portugal is water scarcity. 70% of the water in the south is used for agriculture.

It is also a touristic region, which puts additional stress on water usage. With the help of space technologies, proper analysis and Digital Twin technology, proper calculative actions can be taken to monitor water wastage and prevent leakages.

There is also a dire need to focus on maritime economy. As an Atlantic nation, oceans bring

equilibrium to Portugal’s ecosystem. Hence, the use of space technologies to take care of the oceans, and coastal lines could be the direction where collective efforts is needed the most.

Greater Public Good Space must be seen as a public good to be associated with our institutions and collective ambitions. It is critical to continue to democratize access to Space.

With data access, the public can manage their territory in several dimensions of sustainability and city planning.

tutions working on it.

The Digital Twins of Lisbon is quite advances in some areas. We have used it to monitor rainfall, temperature, and provide relief to people by highlighting the hotspots.

We are trying to use Digital Twin to tackle climate change, especially in agriculture.

For two years, we are trying to monitor plastic litter in the ocean using satellite dataset, supercomputing, Artificial Intelligence but we did not get real-time data

Droughts and forest fires afflict Portugal. Earth Observation tools are vital to tackle them. With the help of accurate data and space tech, we aim to create a national GeoHub.

In the European context, Digital Twin will greatly help to tackle climate change.

Through the open data policy, data can be made available to develop applications. But there’s also a need to build capabilities for the timely exchange of information.

The Digital Twin of the ocean is being developed under the European Commission. However, the unavailability of realtime data is proving to be a problem for some insti-

from satellites, which is really frustrating.

Without access to continuous flow of data, high-tech gadgets, and powerful applications such as supercomputing are of no use.

This is why an inclusive open data policy has the potential to initiate a true paradigm-shift.

Geospatial data should be made available to everyone to make the world more resilient and sustainable.

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 29 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

Digitizing Geospatial Data to Enhance Census Accuracy

Deirdre Dalpiaz Bishop, Chief of the Census Bureau’s Geography Division, shares her views on the role of geospatial data in census digitization, unlocking innovation, addressing community challenges, and more.

The US Census Bureau’s mission is to provide quality statistics on the nation’s people, places, and economy. Geospatial data is the bedrock upon which the Census Bureau builds its comprehensive foundation of statistics on the nation’s population.

The use of geospatial data, geographic information systems (GIS), and spatial analysis are critical to ensuring the agency has a complete and accurate list to achieve its mission to count everyone, once, only once, and in the right place.

“In the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau used high quality satellite imagery to validate 65% of U.S. addresses,” said Deirdre Dalpiaz Bishop , Chief of the Census Bureau’s Geography Division. “These successful innovations increased the accuracy of the Master Address File”, says Deidre

Mapping and satellite technology were critical in detecting changes in the landscape, and high-resolution satellite imagery was used to pin-point and validate structures.

And thanks to more sophisticated techniques, the process has evolved to the point where the Census Bureau plans to automate the manual processes of the past, allowing computers and machine learning to detect the change in the future.

Digital Transformation of the 2020 Census

Digitization was critical in actively digitizing and linking data in the census including address information, geocodes, master lists of businesses and jobs, and Cloud-based data.

“The 2020 Census represented a significant milestone in the digital transformation of the census process,” says Bishop.

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“The integration of geographic information systems and digitization of data records laid a strong foundation for future censuses.

The resulting geospatial database is the most complete and accurate in history, enabling the Census Bureau to focus on challenge areas and enhancements to data visualization capabilities that make it easier for the public to use Census data.”

The Census Bureau’s technological evolution, as showcased in preparations for the 2030 Census, reflects a commitment to innovation, collaboration, and precision in national data collection efforts.

Data visualization capability allows everyone from amateurs to sophisticated data users to examine a map and drill down to their local neighborhood and find out where they belong in a certain community.

Beyond the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau has continued to harness various geographic technologies to not only gather demographic information but also actively contribute to community

welfare and development.

The Open Innovation Lab

The Census Bureau's Open Innovation Lab exemplifies a forwardthinking approach to addressing community needs through technology.

By partnering with technologists, governments and communities, the lab tackles challenges such as address standardization in the wake of natural disasters.

The collaboration after Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico is a testament to the power of combining geospatial data, data science, artificial intelligence and machine learning in real-world applications.

“The increasing importance of geospatial data in observing demographic patterns and solving key problems cannot be overstated,” believes Bishop.

“A complete and accurate address list is a critical component of the Census Bureau’s 130+ surveys and programs. It’s what allows us to unravel the complex-

ities of population shifts and ensure our understanding of our nation’s population remains both precise and panoramic.”

The Census Bureau actively champions the broad use and integration of geospatial data, recognizing its pivotal role in highlighting the value of Census Bureau data down to the smallest geographic levels.

Critical Role of Geocoding

Geocoding continues to be a critical component of the Census Bureau's methodology. Ensuring that each address is accurately geocoded is paramount for the correct allocation of statistical data.

The Census Bureau’s development and enhancement of geocoding tools, including a publicly available geocoder, support the accurate distribution of resources and services (as demonstrated by use of the geocoder in distributing Paycheck Protection Program loans during the COVID-19 pandemic).

Interviewed by GW Media

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 31 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

ENDURING ROLE OF SPACE IN BUILDING BRIDGES

While geopolitical tensions pull the world apart, human nature and business opportunities have driven globalisation.

In the realm of space, what began as a race between the world’s superpowers entered a new age with human spaceflight. Since the launch of the International Space Station, collaboration in space has been a continued success.

Renewed Collaboration

The Moon Village concept and the Artemis space programme all include major space-faring nations and their actors as partners. There can be no doubt that space exploration brings and keeps people from various nations together.

The same spirit of collaboration will be needed for meaningful space sustainability, safety and security. The economic, social, environmental, and political importance of space

leaves us with no choice but to tackle the various issues of space spatial awareness, debris threats, and space traffic management at a multi-national and global level.

New Space means many different things, but it also means private investments, placing space no longer just as the remit of public institutions and governments.

In the world of operations and space situational awareness, it is essential to understand the various resident space objects (RSOs) in orbit and their behaviour.

Common Framework

Factors influencing behaviour in space can be better understood through a well-established taxonomy that can facilitate research and analysis by providing a common language and framework.

These factors, in turn, help design more efficient and effective strategies for space traffic management and are a foundational aspect of a

Where governments do not agree, businesses will build bridges that no conflict can tear down. There’s a need to put all our efforts into making space sustainability and safety a reality.

shared set of guidelines or rules of the road.

AI and Machine

Learning are key to enabling in-space automation and autonomy. This implies E4-level autonomy (i.e., goal-oriented autonomy), as defined by the European Space Agency. This level of autonomy means that a system is capable of autonomously deliberating on the mission’s goals itself and tasks and re-planning activities it needs to perform.

Goal reasoning studies how autonomous agents can dynamically reason about and adjust their

goals. Two models for goal reasoning are GoalDriven Autonomy (GDA), which allows an autonomous agent to not only manage existing goals but also introduce new goals and pre-empt active goals and Goal Lifecycle (GL), whereby goals transition through stages of increasingly detailed modes by activating a series of refinement strategies.

We hope that where governments do not agree, businesses will build bridges that no conflict can tear down. There’s a need to put all our efforts into making space sustainability and safety a reality.

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With the availability of new information sources such as Earth Observation and drones, technology focus has shifted from just the commercial sector to crowdsourced communities and others as well.

Geospatial agencies need to take these developments into account, and emphasize on integration in the context of spatial data infrastructure. There’s also a need for geospatial agencies to view themselves as solution providers, and not just as data providers.

STANDARDS, RELIABLE POLICIES ESSENTIAL FOR GEOSPATIAL ECOSYSTEM

sensing data, whereas the potential and benefits are far beyond. It can be used to gather more perspective for the future, from identifying and integrating content of heterogeneous data sources like real-time sensors, to updating core geospatial sets with an automatic approach.

It can also be used in generalization of maps, which is still a challenge for many of the mapping agencies. The potential of AI can be explored on the implementation of existing solutions, and in exploring new fields of use.

Geospatial agencies need to underline their relevance and help other public bodies to face global challenges.

Untapped Potential

The diversity of geospatial applications stem from the linking up and integration of different types of high-quality data, which depends on availability and easy accessibility. Most mapping agencies use AI/ML for classifying objects, especially with remote

The development of Digital Twins will be a game changer for decision makers, especially for disaster risk management. Geospatial visualization and high definition maps are used more as an interface for users to make information insight in Digital Twins.

Digital Twins have the potential to bring this data together by using Big Data technology or cloud platforms and bring out dynamic solutions in the future, like in case of flooding or heat mapping, including all the consequences.

Resilient Ecosystem

To foster an innovative geospatial ecosystem, there is a need to know the players in the geospatial habitat. Geospatial agencies and spatial stakeholders are evolving beyond their traditional purpose, still the definition of a geospatial ecosystem is not clear for everybody.

The government, industry and academia are working together, developing new technologies and extensive geospatial workforce.

The establishment of the UN-GGCE in Bonn, Germany, has been a great achievement for the geospatial ecosystem. The idea is that the Centre will assist the member states in making that geospatial data findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable in line with standards,

policies and conventions.

Informed DecisionMaking

We face increasing geopolitical uncertainty, which depends on reliable geo-information for decision making. Maps and visualizations are still considered as the first source of information for decision makers during any crisis outbreak.

This is the only way to answer the pressing questions on climate change, and sustainable development. BKG tries to contribute to the exchange of ideas, the collaboration with partners from neighboring countries at EU level and at the global level. UN-GGIM is a perfect example for this.

In the next five years, we have to identify the important players, global issues, and need to bring together standards and reliable policy. For example, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which is a reliable organization gets all the meteorological data with well-defined standards, thus everybody knows what they have to do.

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 33 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

Tech Access to Foster Inclusive Growth

An interview with Doris Sullivan, Managing Director –Innovation, The Rockefeller Foundation on renewable energy transition, net zero, tangible social impact, and more.

How can geospatial tech and its convergence drive inclusive and sustainable growth?

Geospatial coordinates can be thought of as an additional dimension to any data you might have. Having a handle on geographical areas can be quite helpful. For example, if an area was recently flooded, by analyzing sensor data, you can deploy assistance to those specific areas.

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Geospatial tech, including data coming from satellites, can be helpful in filling in missing data, enhancing existing data, and bringing in more insight.

Greater access to previously untapped data can help identify the best places for inclusive and sustainable growth—but it has to be the right kind of data and validation is always key.

What can be done at a global level to reduce the glaring digital divide and ensure greater technology access to build impactful solutions that can address grassroots social and developmental issues?

Our grantee Data.org, which was founded with support from The Rockefeller Foundation and Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth, is committed to helping ensure a digital divide doesn’t emerge as people have unprecedented access to technology.

We believe strongly in these kinds of efforts, which is why we support organizations like data.org that are trying to make sure data and AI have positive impacts on a local level, particularly through their technical Capacity Acceler-

ator Network hubs located in the US, Africa and India.

Tell us more about the Energy Transition Accelerator Program, and how critical do you think it is for countries to decarbonize and move towards renewable energy sources?

As the International Energy Agency notes, annual clean energy investment must triple to $4.2 trillion by 2030 to keep 1.5°C of warming within reach—but right now, the world is nowhere near closing that financing gap.

The Energy Transition Accelerator is a joint collaboration between the U.S. Department of State, The Rockefeller Foundation, the Bezos Earth Fund, and others that aims to help bridge this gap and empower developing economies/countries to achieve a just transition to renewable energy.

The ETA is working to drive private investment to accelerate the retirement of fossil fuel assets and the deployment of renewable power in developing countries.

We view the ETA as a potentially crucial tool for unlocking the funding needed to help low- and

Greater access to previously untapped data helps identify the best places for inclusive and sustainable growth—but it has to be the right kind of data and validation is always key.

middle-income countries achieve their energy transition goals.

There's a lot of skepticism about AI, ranging from automation anxieties to doomsday foreboding. How can we best use it as a force for good and agent for change?

It’s important to understand that like any technology, AI is a tool that has strengths, weaknesses, and many limitations—but it also has potential to catalyze solutions that create positive change for individuals and communities.

At The Rockefeller Foundation, we are always looking to advance solutions that can leverage AI to promote the well-being of humanity.

Take, for instance, our grantee Blue Conduit. They’ve used advanced analytics to map toxic lead water pipes in US cities that can be later eradicated from the water supply to individual homes.

They have a goal of replacing 5 million service lines affecting 10 million homes, and their unique approach has helped to cut costs by up to 70% when compared to the traditional approach of removing lead pipes in U.S. cities. Without advances in AI, progress like this would not be possible as quickly.

Interviewed by Aditya Chaturvedi

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 35 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

MAXIMIZING GEOSPATIAL FOR FUTURE MAPPING

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Miriam Daniel VP, GM, Google Maps

Mapping is a dire necessity. Be it combating climate change, holistic city planning, or resilient adaptation for disaster preparedness.

Beginning with 2D maps, we have evolved to address a range of complex issues across various industries.

Satellite imagery is at the heart of what we do. Google Earth, for instance, merges data from diverse sources such as the street view images.

This data, updated regularly by city authorities on public transit and infrastructure, is integrated using advanced Machine Learning and AI.

There has been a surge in innovative use-cases with aerial imagery becoming more accessible and high-resolution.

Take our recent launch of immersive views for places and routes as an example.

We're collating and stitching together millions of pixels of imagery, applying AI to accurately geolocate places, and overlaying this with points of interest and other useful information. This helps users make informed decisions in real time.

Through the integration of geospatial with AI, Ml, and Big Data, we offer services such as flood forecasting in over 80 countries.

Immersive Digital Twins

The essence of Digital Twins lie in their interconnectedness, convergence, and collaboration.

For any virtual simulation, the focus should be on tailoring precision and resolution for specific purposes.

This approach caters to the unique requirements of various industries, ensuring that the Digital Twins are not just realistic but also highly functional and relevant to user needs.

We aim to provide data of varying fidelity and layers to meet the diverse needs of our partners and the industries we serve.

Whether it's a simple point cloud image, 3D imagery, or an abstract map, we're equipped to handle it.

Google’s partnership with the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) exemplifies this, focusing on shared standards that foster interoperability.

This partnership is pivotal because it emerged when the space was still developing.

Collaboration for Innovation

No single company or entity in the industry can build everything in a fully vertical integration, so interoperability is not just beneficial – it's essential.

Our collaborations are invaluable in driving

It is only through the power of collaboration that diverse industries utilize and combine shared data in innovative ways, laying the groundwork of tech advancement.

the industry forward and maximizing the potential of these technologies.

Whether it is projects related to air quality monitoring, carbon emissions tracking, or solar energy planning, collaboration with city authorities and governments is crucial.

It is only through the power of collaboration that diverse industries utilize and combine shared data in innovative ways, laying the groundwork of tech advancement.

Interoperability is another non-negotiable in an industry where no single entity can achieve full vertical integration.

For instance, real estate firms can now leverage our technology to visualize the architectural future of cities, including planned roadways and infrastructure.

This capability aids their partners and investors in strategic planning and decision-making.

Sustainable Choices

Customized geospatial APIs are indispensable everywhere, from educational and cultural explorations to practical urban planning.

We offer full support to individual AR (Augmented Reality) creators as well. Someone designing a guided tour of a historic city like Florence is simply inconceivable without geospatial APIs.

Data-driven approach not only empowers stakeholders to make informed decisions and implement proactive measures, but drives sustainable choices. Modelling eco-friendly routes to reduce carbon emissions is also a key Google Maps priority.

Our 18-year journey has been pivotal in enabling these advancements. We're thrilled to work alongside industry leaders and contribute to the societal benefits of these emerging mapping technologies, benefiting users, businesses, and society at large.

We're pushing the boundaries through convergence. Interoperability is crucial for the advancement of geospatial.

Disclaimer: This is based on Miriam's views in the plenary session titled Geospatial Imaging and Digital Twin of Everything at GeoBuiz 2024

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 37 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

Vigorous Global Cooperation Only Way to Achieve SDGs

A conversation on innovation, social good, disruptions, and more. Dr. Jeffery Sachs is a leading American economist, eminent public intellectual, and dynamic policy thinker. He is the Director of Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University, and President, United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDSN).

What role can geospatial and space tech play in creating impactful tech solutions to achieve SDGs? Geospatial data, including satellite-based info, plays a fundamental role in sustainable development policies in virtually every sector of society.

We need geospatial and space-based data to monitor Earth’s physical systems (drought, flood, soil moisture, photosynthetic production, vegetative cover, deforestation, energy flux, ocean circulation, and countless more dimensions).

We require geospatial data for designing physical infrastructure such as roads, rail, transmission lines, fiber, and housing, and for sustainable land use and location of public institutions (clinics, hospitals, schools, government centers, etc.).

Spatial data is also important for day-to-day management of public services and infrastructure, and for monitoring public health and disease transmission.

It is also crucial for accountability of public and private actors. And of course, we need geospatial data for emergency responses to forest fires, heat waves, droughts, floods, and other natural hazards.

In your remarkable 2015 book, The Age of Sustainable Development,

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you laid down practical pathways to solve some of the most pressing global challenges. Which of those recommendations are urgently critical today, and how can technology augment them?

I tend to focus on six major societal transformations: quality education for all; quality health systems for all; energy-system decarbonization and sustainable industrial production (including drastic reductions of pollutants); sustainable agriculture and land use; urban and inter-urban infrastructure (roads, rail, water and sanitation, fiber, electricity, social housing); and digital platforms for public and private services.

In every one of these areas, technological transformation is at the core, and new digital technologies (e.g., 5G, robotics, 3D printing, AI, supercomputing, etc.) are fundamentally important.

For energy decarbonization, we need cutting-edge technologies. Be it zero-carbon power generation, electrification of transport and industry, production and uses of green hydrogen (e.g., in steel-making), smart grids, or battery storage.

In the age of looming geopolitical uncertainty and volatility, how can UNSDSN bridge divides and help forge collaborative transformation?

SDSN operates on several principles and dimensions. We help to incorporate sustainable development into the teaching curriculum at all levels, from primary schools through advanced post-doctoral research.

We are engaged in multi-stakeholder problem solving, bringing together government, business, civil society, and the university sector.

We are engaged in regional integration, with multi-country SDSN chapters in all parts of the world working across national

Our challenge is to harness new technologies for human good, rather than for warfare, surveillance, fake news, rising inequality, hate, and conflict. It’s not easy, because governments and businesses are not adequately and systematically working for the global common good.

boundaries. We are advising national governments on SDG-based strategies.

And we are heavily engaged in many global research programs on how to achieve the SDGs, in terms of investments, financing, technology, metrics, accountability, and participatory strategies.

Your work has been at the cross-section of economic development, social changes wrought by it, and ways to deal with abrupt transition and its unintended consequences. What is your view on the transition to Fourth Industrial Revolution and future shocks associated with it?

I read Future Shock by Alvin Toffler in 1970 as a high-school student. I was fascinated by it. Indeed, it got a lot right on target, especially the acceleration of technological change as we entered the digital age.

We are in a period of deeply disruptive technological change, where disruption means fundamentally new ways of facing problems, engaging in work, doing research, etc.

Our challenge is to harness new technologies for the human good, rather than for warfare, surveillance, fake news, rising inequality, hate, and conflict.

It’s not easy, because our governments and businesses are

not adequately and systematically working for the global common good.

We have collectively overcome the worst-case Malthusian nightmare due to rapid tech advancements and efficient energy supply, yet overpopulation and depleting natural resources remain serious concerns. What is the way forward for a resilient world?

We need to engage in cooperative problem solving at all scales, from local communities, to cities, provinces, nations, multi-country regions (such as the European Union, African Union, and ASEAN, to name three), and globally. Cooperative problem solving means effective governance at all scales from local to global.

Strengthening the global system means first and foremost strengthening the United Nations. That is the aim of upcoming UN Summit of the Future.

Sustainable development –the simultaneous achievement of economic prosperity, social justice, environmental sustainability, and peace and cooperation – is achievable.

But it will require new forms of politics and geopolitics, as well as fundamental reforms to the global financial architecture. It is only through global cooperation that we can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Interviewed by Aditya Chaturvedi

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 39 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

INDIGENOUS AND LOCAL COMMUNITIES

EMPOWERING
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Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendent, and other Local Communities are increasingly deploying geospatial technologies to map and manage their territories, which are under threat from climate change and encroachment. Community-based mapping, enabled by low-cost tech access and training, has become a key strategy for protecting community-held land and empowering people through access to data.

Bridging the Divide

Historical community distrust of government and their exclusion from land rights recognition have created a significant disconnect between national-level agencies and the on-the-ground needs of communities.

National mapping, land, and environmental agencies can provide critical technology and expertise to support local collection of accurate geospatial data needed to secure tenure rights for indigenous people, local customary communities, informal settlements, farming communities, and other tenure-insecure populations.

These datasets are also vital for the implementation of social and economic development initiatives, land-use planning, resource management, and disaster preparedness.

In order to build trust and extend needed technical support, land, environmental, and mapping and other agencies need

to adopt policies and practices that respect and include indigenous people, local communities, and other rights holders in planning and decisions that profoundly impact their lives, culture, and livelihoods.

Monitoring Threats and Ecological Destruction

Geospatial data does not only support tenure rights. It also aids indigenous people, Afro-descendent, and local communities in collecting evidence on how climate change and human activity affect their territories and natural resources.

For example, by creating GIS platforms to link locally collected data with satellite and remote sensing data, communities can better manage natural resources and monitor territorial threats, such as deforestation from illegal logging and mining, and natural disasters, like forest fires or floods.

Data visualization tools, for example, dashboards, Web maps, and story maps aid communities in making decisions and organizing actions for land use planning, adaptation, mitigation, agricultural or forestbased production planning, and legal enforcement and advocacy.

Sustained Collaboration

The geospatial sector needs to be more engaged with global development challenges and more inclusive of

Geospatial data aids local communities in collecting evidence on how climate change and human activity affect their territories and natural resources.

historically marginalized sectors.

To effectively address climate issues and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, geospatial technology providers must not only prioritize close collaboration, but the government also requires to transform the way they work.

There is a need for collaborative, inclusive approaches to develop capacity and support community-led efforts with civil society, local stakeholders, and Indigenous and other traditional and marginalized groups. This is essential to ensure affordable, sustainable access to hardware, software, training, and technical support.

There is a need for ongoing targeted investment and support from governments, donors, and the private sector, including the geospatial sector, to democratize the use of geospatial technologies.

Technology design should prioritize user-friendliness, account for gender differences, and offer customizable solutions tailored to specific regions, cultures, and capacities. Advocating for poli-

cies that safeguard data privacy, respect rights, and ensure equitable distribution of technology benefits is vital.

Community education about the positive impact of geospatial tech on climate issues fosters sustainable development. Thus, it becomes a tool for inclusive and sustainable practices.

As technology access and affordability increase, more advanced applications, such as AI and VR, offer potential for Indigenous and traditional communities interested in digitally visualizing and preserving cultural knowledge and traditions.

As Cadasta Foundation strives to catalyze land systems change, leading to inclusive land and resource rights for half the world's one billion tenure-insecure people by 2040, we invite the geospatial sector to join us.

Our key strategies for achieving this are bridging digital and data divides through training and technical assistance, empowering local actors around their own data, and building a network of local partners working to achieve secure, equitable communities and a sustainable planet.

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 41 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

FUTURE OF SPACE: ASTROPHYSICS, ADVANCED IMAGING CONVERGENCE

The space landscape is undergoing a major transformation, driven by the convergence of astrophysics and advanced imaging technologies.

This integration marks a crucial shift from traditional observation methods to more sophisticated, compact, and efficient imaging systems.

The focus on miniaturization and ultra-high pixel techniques has led to the development of instruments capable of achieving resolutions previously deemed impossible. These advancements are not only enhancing our ability to observe Earth in exceptional detail but also expanding the possibilities for cosmic exploration.

Integrating Astrophysics and Tech

Astrophysics plays a critical role in this evolution, providing the foundational principles that guide the development of

these innovative imaging technologies.

The field's obsession with photons and the language of light has shown the way for precision and efficiency in observation. By leveraging insights from astrophysics, researchers and technologists have succeeded in creating smaller, more powerful instruments.

Innovative Solutions

The advancements in imaging technology are not confined to observation alone; they are instrumental in addressing some of the most pressing environmental challenges.

Methane detection, for example, illustrates the practical application of these technologies. By equipping satellites with the capability to capture multi-spectral and short-wave infrared data, scientists can now identify and quantify methane emissions with greater accuracy. This capability is crucial for monitoring environmental health and ensuring regulatory compliance.

The future of the space industry is not just about technological breakthroughs but about creating sustainable, impactful solutions for our planet.

The dual-satellite system, capable of analyzing data across ten bands, exemplifies the technological ingenuity at play. This system enables a comprehensive analysis, converting pixel information into measurable emission rates.

Such technological solutions extend beyond methane detection, offering novel approaches to monitoring urban heat islands, building efficiencies, and tracking oceanic plastic waste. By translating environmental challenges into quantifiable data, technology is providing a pathway to actionable, impactful solutions.

Future of Space

The growth and success of a company lies not just in its technological innovations but in its strategic, customer-focused approach. The space and satellite industry, particularly in Earth observation, is ripe for transformation.

The past two years have witnessed a revolution in the space industry, especially in telecommunications. Starlink's disruptive entry and the promise of even faster innovations are reshaping the world.

However, Earth observation hasn't kept pace. Despite

a flurry of commercial ventures, it seems stuck in an old paradigm: launching satellites, collecting data, storing it, and hoping for later applications. This formula just isn't cutting it anymore. While small satellites remain expensive, their cost has arguably dropped dramatically.

Specific customer problems should be prioritized and solved. Companies taking this initiative are leading this change.

By offering a mix of hardware, software, and services tailored to the unique requirements of industries such as energy, oil and gas, and agriculture, there should be a focus on customer-centric models. This approach enhances efficiency, reduces costs, and fosters a closer alignment with the evolving demands of the marketplace.

The future of the space industry is not just about technological breakthroughs but about creating sustainable, impactful solutions for our planet.

42 | ANNUAL EDITION / JANUARY-MARCH 2024 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

SPACE TECNOLOGY FOR EARTH OBSERVATION & UNIVERSE EXPLORATION

GEOSPATIAL AGENCIES TO BE AT FOREFRONT OF AI-ENABLED WORKFLOWS

Geospatial data transcends boundaries. It serves as a foundation to a nation’s resilience, economic advantage, sustainability, and health. Artificial Intelligence is growing rapidly as a pervasive technology. Coupled

with advances in Machine Learning, this means we need to assess its impact on our workflows.

As we begin to incorporate AI and ML into workflows, there’s a need to ensure that steps are taken to safeguard the

In a systems-of-systems world, geospatial information provides a vital common denominator, delivering greater insight from disparate information contained across national and international data lakes.

reliability and trust in our foundational data, and subsequent analysis. Explicitly incorporating location data and spatially-enabled flowlines from the outset will be fundamental to achieve the benefits from these emerging technologies.

It is imperative that we work together openly to ensure that AI can be developed and deployed in a safe and responsible way. Geospatial agencies have an important role to play at the forefront of these conversations – to develop and implement responsible AI practices.

As we move into the future, deploying new Machine Learning techniques, applying quantum computing to solve uncertainty models, or the ongoing development of Digital Twins, we will continue to rely on trusted foundational data for effective and efficient decision-making.

Acting with Authority Ordnance Survey’s data has been underpinning decision making in the Great Britain for over 200 years. In recent times we have made great strides in reducing the complexities in how we serve data to our users.

National geospatial authorities have the potential to enable the social, economic, and environmental aspirations of their nations and the world economy by providing data and insight for geospatially informed decision-making.

Whilst we rightly focus on seeking technological advantage, it’s essential

for the geospatial sector to reflect on its relationship with the development of national infrastructures –both physical and digital – and reconsidering our role in accelerating the resilience, prosperity, health and sustainability of our nations.

Integrated Approach

In a systems-of-systems world, geospatial information provides a vital common denominator , delivering greater insight from disparate information contained across national and international data lakes and interconnected datasets.

This use of multiple datasets, underpinned by accurate and trusted geospatial data, can balance the competing demands for a sustainable transition and drive forward sustainable practices to deliver positive outcomes for our people and the planet.

We recognise the role for organisations such as ourselves to act as the glue, to create an ecosystem of data providers and consumers, integrating multiple views of the world, and joining those up, unlocking the rich seams of data that are currently held in isolated silos. Geography – location – can be viewed as an integration technology in its own right that will help facilitate that.

In a future characterised by interconnected systems, National geospatial authorities will play a role in enabling and defining trusted data environments driven by user needs.

44 | ANNUAL EDITION / JANUARY-MARCH 2024 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

PLUGGING THE DATA GAPS

With AI and ML advancements, there are tools to extract insights from vast spatial datasets surrounding us.

However, a significant challenge remains in translating geospatial data into tabular formats that align with other datasets. This highlights an awareness gap in the industry

Bridging it is crucial for enterprises to effectively leverage geospatial data for their businesses.

Though the use of geospatial data has been quite extensive in domains such as oil and gas, defense, utilities, agriculture, and forestry.

However, those have mostly been standalone insights coming at low frequency and with different kinds of data, whether it is aerial imagery or satellite imagery.

Greater Value

The gaps in demand for geospatial data lie in the

establishment of new business value propositions, particularly in change monitoring of assets, both natural and man-made.

Traditional use cases, such as surveying and cartography, are well-established, but there's a need to integrate geospatial insights seamlessly into the broader data and software ecosystem to unlock new value propositions.

The synergies of geospatial and space technologies will play a pivotal role in enhancing the world economy's robustness, resilience, and dynamism in the next five years.

Whether data is collected from space, air, or the ground, true business value emerges when different data forms are integrated accurately to generate actionable insights.

This integration ensures the coverage and equitability of space data combined with the precision of aerial and ground data.

Geospatial companies need to become integral to mainstream data strategies, leveraging cloud services to reduce waste, accelerate adoption, and create value for everyone.

Breaking Silos

In the future, geospatial data will become a subset of the diverse data enterprises handle, rather than being distinguished in itself.

While geospatial solutions are scaling on the cloud, they often operate

in isolation, lacking interoperability with various socio-economic and other datasets.

To facilitate a sustainable transition, geospatial companies need to become integral to mainstream data strategies, leveraging cloud services to reduce waste, accelerate adoption, and create value for everyone.

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 45 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

NEED TO PRIORITIZE INVESTMENTS IN GEODESY

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Nicholas Brown Head of Office, United Nations Global Geodetic Centre of Excellence (UN-GGCE)

Mark Weiser, CTO, Xerox PARC, also referred as the Father of Ubiquitous Computing, famously said “The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everything in life until they are indistinguishable from it.”

That is geospatial today! It is integral and integrated into more and more things we do every year. To users of technology, geospatial will seamlessly blend in with AI, ML, and IoT.

Geospatial is crucial for decision-makers, because they have the opportunity to build strong foundation and technology ecosystems which can be applied in multiple ways to solve problems or drive investment in a range of areas.

The challenge that the geodesy, geospatial, and the other emerging tech sectors face is how to ‘sell’ the value of what they provide to decision makers.

Often fundamentals are forgotten when it comes to budgets. They fall by the wayside to accommodate higher priorities.

Those who work on the fundamentals need stronger evidence to showcase the value of what they enable, and the risks associated with them collapsing.

Geodesy for Digital Twins

While visualization is considered to be at the core of Digital Twin, geodesy and standards play a very critical role . However unfortunately they are an afterthought in Digital Twins.

Digital Twins should provide an accurate and reliable digital representation of the real-world, enabling us to simulate exact scenarios and develop detailed and precise infrastructure models.

This is only possible with geodesy and standards being at the core of Digital Twin development.

I am a strong believer in the build once, apply many practice. There’s a need for greater investment in geodesy and standards to develop and foster a comprehensive and innovative geospatial ecosystem.

Invigorating Foundations

We cannot benefit from integration unless we strengthen the founda-

Without up-to-date geodetic information, the applications we take for granted risk being degraded or lost forever

Ground Observatories that measure the movement of Earth and satellites

Data Centres for quality check the data from observatories and make it available to the global analysis community

Analysis Centres to translate the raw data into satellite intelligence products and make it available to users

tions of satellite services. Our reliance on satellites has grown to the extent that in some countries satellite services are seen as a single point of failure for national economies and operation of critical infrastructure.

The risk is the lack of resilience in the global geodesy supply chain. Without geodesists constantly measuring this critical information and providing it to satellites, the applications we take for granted, and the benefits they afford us are at the risk of being degraded or lost.

Stronger Together

No country can do geodesy on its own. We have to work together to constantly measure the dynamics of the Earth and combine our information to ensure satellites continue to operate.

The difficulty with geodesy is that traditionally we have had trouble explaining the importance of what we do to

decision-makers.

Within the UN-GGCE, we aworking hard to change this. We are working with Member States and partners on a Joint Development Plan to strengthen the global geodesy supply chain.

This includes providing stronger evidence of the risks associated with a degradation in the global geodesy supply chain and the economic benefits of investment in stronger foundations and more capacity development.

The UN-GGCE’s vision is one where all countries have strong political support for geodesy which enables them to – together – accelerate the achievements of the Sustainable Development Goals to derive social, environmental and economic benefits.

The future is bright as long as we don’t forget the core aspects of our work.

The Global Geodesy Supply Chain
JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 47 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION KEY TO SUSTAINABLE TRANSFORMATION

The geospatial industry has always embraced innovation.

Today, the convergence of AI, machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly reshaping the landscape.

We have observed how quickly AI can streamline repetitive tasks by aggregating human experience. For example, this is evident when applied to automatically extracting features from massive 3D point clouds.

The convergence of IoT and cloud computing enables the real-time collection and analysis of geospatial data on an unprecedented scale. Real-time data processing improves quality control and empowers on-site operators to make informed decisions. These transformative technologies are poised to play a pivotal role in the industry, allowing greater focus on non-repetitive, high-value tasks, such

as advanced analysis and decision-making.

From Data to Cloud

Geospatial data serves as the digital blueprint of our planet. It serves as the foundation for the digitization of the physical world. By unlocking insights hidden within this data, we can make informed decisions from resource allocation to infra development.

This, in turn, translates to enhanced sustainability, climate resilience, optimized supply chains, and smarter infrastructure investments. Geospatial data has the potential to be a cornerstone for economic growth and stability.

The strategic use of geospatial data for consolidation and responsible infrastructure development has the potential to have a profound impact on local, national, and global economies.

The key to sustainable transformation lies in the strategic integration of innovative tech-

The strategic use of geospatial data for infrastructure development will have have a profound impact on local, national, and global economies.

nologies into society, both economically and environmentally. Cloud computing represents a quantum leap in the scale, analysis, and application of spatial information.

The cloud revolution has democratized access to geospatial data and applications, empowering leaders with actionable insights in near real-time. This opens doors for the strategic integration of spatial information into everyday operations, allowing us to optimize resource allocation and policy-making.

Cloud-based geospatial solutions can guide informed decisions that strike a vital balance between economic progress and environmental stewardship.

Force for Collaboration

A healthy ecosystem fosters innovation and growth through positive feedback loops. For this, we need to ensure widespread accessibility of geospatial data capture and visualization technologies, particularly those crucial for creating Digital Twins.

Lowering acquisition costs, improving usability, and fostering a competitive landscape are key aspects. Both manufacturers, such as CHC Navigation, and end-users will benefit from an actively competitive marketplace that fosters innovation and the continuous development of new solutions.

While perspectives and priorities might differ between countries and communities, the view from space reminds us of our shared home on this planet.

Geospatial data provides policymakers with a neutral, visual overview that can transcend controversy and pave the way for collective progress. The potential of these technologies for regional and global cooperation is immense, offering a compelling model for a more united future.

48 | ANNUAL EDITION / JANUARY-MARCH 2024 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

COLLECTIVE LEARNING VITAL FOR INNOVATION

50 | ANNUAL EDITION / JANUARY-MARCH 2024 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024
Dr. Motoyuki Arai Founder & CEO, Synspective

For the widespread dissemination of spatial knowledge, a bottom-up approach is essential— acquiring diverse datasets and insights from industry experts and then distributing them.

However, this approach poses the challenge of extracting usable information from vast datasets. Educating experts and scientists alone will not suffice; there is a need to train university students through carefully curated programs.

Collective learning involving individuals from various backgrounds, fostering diversity and experience, is a crucial factor for systematic innovation.

The development of knowledge will result in standardized capabilities, paving the way for the generation of innovative applications and use cases through open data. To achieve this, a more data-driven approach is necessary.

Incorporating academia with international entities such as the United Nations and the World Bank will ensure a linear worldwide progression of knowledge building.

International players can establish a platform with analytics to facilitate learning, while companies can contribute by providing APIs and insights, collaborating

within an ecosystem.

It is imperative to leverage these technologies to build a better future. The entire concept of a data-driven approach and collective learning holds significant importance for the next generation.

Disaster Mitigation

Satellite data plays a crucial role not only in identifying complex objects and tracking developments on Earth but also in disaster mitigation and building resilient infrastructure.

During the 2011 earthquake in the east of Japan, satellite data were insufficient to provide immediate information for risk assessment and recovery activities.

However, in the 2024 earthquake, we were able to promptly provide satellite data that aided in rescue missions and monitored the affected areas.

Yet, there is still much to be done. The solution lies in sharing live URLs of real-time satellite data for disaster management in the event of earthquakes, flood damage, or forest fires.

We can enhance our capability by increasing the number of satellites, reducing processing time, and offering precise information. For instance, accurate landslide risk assessments can be provided, pinpointing potential risk zones.

The next 15 years are pivotal for humanity. Emphasizing an appropriate vision is essential to harness the full potential of AI systems for sustainable decision-making.

AI introduces a new dimension to disaster prediction and analysis at timely intervals. We are amassing information and datasets about global disaster occurrences to train AI models and machine learning algorithms for predictive intelligence.

Within six years, we anticipate predicting the damages from a disaster and proactively preparing to minimize the impact, while also furnishing relevant data for constructing robust infrastructure.

Future Transition

Understanding the benefits of interoperability and mitigating conflicts is crucial. Recent geopolitical risks stem from various factors, such as each country's economic state or energy security.

When addressing this complex issue, it's essential to recognize the power of the economy, often not given sufficient importance. Policymaking is intricate in many countries.

If geospatial data, or any data for that matter, can demonstrate incentives for greater prof-

itability with a positive impact on society, many people may choose this less turbulent route.

Changing people's minds takes time, so whatever transformation we envision for the next generation must be initiated by this generation. For instance, sustainable goals and positive climate change actions must be undertaken now.

Economics has already shown that collaboration can yield greater benefits than conflict through the power of a competitive market.

Scientific approaches, fueled by robust economic actions, can shape a different future for the next generation. While it may take time, laying the groundwork for usable platforms, tools, and structures will redefine the concept of living.

The next 15 years are pivotal for humanity. Emphasizing an appropriate vision is essential to harness the full potential of AI systems for sustainable decision-making.

This is sponsored content from Synspective’

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 51 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN EARTH AND SPACE

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From climate change, resource scarcity, to rising inequality and geopolitical instability, the world faces unprecedented challenges.

Building a more robust, resilient, and dynamic global economy requires innovative solutions that bridge the gap between Earth and space. This is where the joint synergies of geospatial and space infrastructure come into play.

Five years down the line, this dynamic duo will play a crucial role in key areas such as resource conservation, building climate resilience, and enhancing infrastructure and connectivity.

Combined synergy between geospatial and space will also foster innovation and economic growth. The space economy is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2040, creating new jobs and opportunities across various sectors. Initiatives like the Artemis program and private space ventures are driving this growth.

Geospatial data and analytics will empower businesses to make informed decisions on everything from supply chain optimization to risk management, leading to

increased efficiency and competitiveness.

Circular Economy

Geospatial plays a vital role in optimizing resource management, sustainable infra planning, and renewable energy site selection.

Multi-level collaboration, capacity development, and open and interoperable geospatial data access is key to achieve a circular economy.

Spatial analysis tracks materials and products throughout supply chains, reducing transportation emissions and waste generation.

It helps optimize waste collection routes, identify efficient recycling facilities, and promote circular economy practices.

GIS also helps design compact, walkable cities with efficient public transport, reducing energy consumption and pollution.

Global Partnerships

Public-private partnerships and international collaboration are key to accelerating the development and adoption of spatial technologies. Initiatives such as the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and the Space

Multi-level collaboration, capacity development, and open and interoperable geospatial data access is key to achieve a circular economy.

Climate Change Initiative (SCCI) demonstrate the power of collaboration.

The geospatial and space ecosystem presents a unique opportunity to build a more resilient and dynamic global economy. By embracing these technologies, we can create a future where everyone benefits from the insights they offer.

Decision-makers at all levels are facing a complex challenge: balancing economic growth with the urgent need for a sustainable future.

Spatial technologies, encompassing tools like Geographic Information Systems (GIS), remote sensing, and spatial analytics, offer powerful solutions to navigate this tightrope.

Resilient Future for All

Geospatial data plays a vital role in coordinating disaster relief efforts, guiding first responders, ad assessing damage.

Initiatives such as the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters leverage satellite data for rapid response and recovery in affected regions.

NewSpace companies are developing innovative solutions for monitoring and mitigating climate change, such as Earth observation satellites and greenhouse gas tracking technologies. These efforts require international cooperation to ensure equitable access to data and benefits.

Examples of Collaborative Transformation

Mapping for Peacekeeping

The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) utilizes satellite imagery and geospatial analysis to support peacekeeping missions, providing crucial information for conflict resolution and monitoring.

Disaster Response and Recovery

Geospatial data plays a vital role in coordinating disaster relief efforts, guiding first responders, and assessing damage. Initiatives like the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters leverage satellite data for rapid response and recovery in affected regions.

Sustainable Development Goals

Geospatial technologies are instrumental in monitoring progress towards the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), enabling datadriven decision-making and resource allocation for poverty reduction, climate action, and environmental protection.

As geospatial and NewSpace technologies continue to evolve, their potential to bridge divides and foster collaboration will only grow. By harnessing these tools effectively, we can build a more resilient and equitable future for all.

Let's join forces, invest in innovation, and harness the power of Earth observation and space exploration to build a brighter future for all.

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 53 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

Circular Economy

Necessary but Not Sufficient

A conversation with Dr. Joyeeta Gupta, outgoing Co-Chair, the Earth Commission, and Professor of Environment & Development at the University of Amsterdam. She specializes in resource conservation, biodiversity, and Climate Change challenges in, and in relation to, developing countries. She was co-chair of the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Global Environment Outlook-6, Commissioner in the Global Commission on the Economics of Water.

You are the first Indian to be awarded the prestigious Spinoza Prize, colloquially referred as the Dutch Nobel Prize. Baruch De Spinoza, the philosopher, famously said the key to learning is to understand, because understanding is what makes us free. How do you think in today's world, spatial technology, especially modeling and visualization, helps people understand better about climate change and other pressing issues that concern us all?

Spatial technology has both pros and cons. It can open up your mind because you can look at what’s needed. For instance, in the case of agriculture it can tell us about the optimal amount of water or fertilizers that are needed for growing specific plants in specific areas. In that way, technology solutions enable us to understand how to make the future more sustainable.

However, there are underlying assumptions in all technologies, which can be for good or for worse. Such technologies may enable an assessment of

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the quality of soil per km2, but may not actually generate information on social inequality per km2 thus creating a bias if this information is used for policies.

Another example: the response to a particular query on Google or any other platform regarding Climate Change would depend a lot on your interests and the algorithm may completely push you in one direction. If you enter the query, what are the facts on climate change, then the response could be based on facts emerging from IPCC. However, if you tweak the question differently, you may get sucked into the vortex of misinformation by climate change skeptics and denialists.

The prevailing assumptions and scenarios play a key role. An old but classic paper by Jyoti Parekh in the 1990s questions the assumptions developed in Global North based scenarios that did not account for Global South interests.

The problem of energy is another factor. Every technology intervention, be it smart agriculture or AI, requires some form of energy. Even for renewable energy we need a lot of energy and rare earth metals and minerals to make the equipment and batteries. So the human dependence on energy is not quite straightforward; we can make it partly renewable but it is difficult to make it circular.

As the co-author of the 2007 IPCC report, the recipient of the Nobel Prize for peace along with Al Gore, you stressed on how climate change is becoming a big hazard and what needs to be done. 2023, as we know, was the hottest year in all of recorded history. In this context, how crucial is climate governance, particularly for the developing countries? Since 1998, what worries me is that for a long time, developing countries thought that climate change is a northern political issue and that

Mobilizing

scholars, policymakers and NGOs to think of how best different priorities can be integrated is critical to finding the right context relevant solutions. Visualization enables us to see something about the social indicators, not just soil quality, which can be mapped through remote sensing

the impacts would happen much later. They did not realize that they would be seriously affected by climate change, not just in the future, but also now and possibly in the past. They have thus not worked with scenarios – what do we do if the global North does not help us, or does not reduce its emissions fast enough.

Climate change is already here and it is hugely problematic for a country like India. Due to increasing global warming, the evaporation rates and glacial melting increase which put a lot of stress on water resources, and requires judicious resource use.

The key here is to reconcile our energy consumption and development patterns in such a way that we don’t repeat the same mistakes that the global North did.

The Global North production and consumption patterns should not be a goal that developing countries should aspire to. Instead of solely focusing on narrow parameters and metrics are concerned solely with the transition from a low income to a high income country and mirroring the development patterns in the west, the developing countries should focus on better healthcare, better well-being, and more integrated societies.

Cities in the global South have high air pollution leading to respiratory diseases and lung problems. This is the price that has been paid for haphazard development.

More use of a better public transit system and making it friendly to the

children and the elderly can help reduce the pollution burden, the costs, the energy needs as well as foster a more inclusive society.

For example, in the Netherlands, the public transport is used by the elderly who cannot drive anymore as well as children. The system has been designed also keeping them in mind. The roads and the pavements have been constructed for cycling. But in a hot country like India, cycling may not be a feasible option. So there are complexities too.

A lot of people think that the circular economy is the solution to climate change, but it is not. Let me say it upfront, energy is not circular. It dissipates.

Our food systems are not circular. There are some metals such as steel that can be recycled, but medicines such as antibiotics or plastics or the textile industry can’t get circular. We need to promote a circular economy, while realizing that it is not sufficient for living within our environmental means.

For all countries of the world, moderate consumption and equitable, inclusive sharing of resources is the hope.

A lot of countries today are witnessing multi-pronged climate crisis and increased disasters, ranging from desertification on one hand to rising sea levels and risk of submerging on the other. It is leading to population dislocation and acute loss of livelihoods. Clearly, there’s a need for a more

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participative approach. What can decision-makers do to adapt databased insights to craft innovative grassroots strategies and solutions?

The global West needs to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which basically means that the fossil fuel has to be left underground. While the West needs to do it practically overnight, the global South has to avoid new fossil investments within the next 10-15 years and phase out fossil fuel use as soon as possible.

It is a big challenge. There are battery run vehicles in some Indian cities, but they are charged using thermal energy. So for countries with ample sunshine, the next step should be to harness solar energy. India and the African countries need to prioritize this transformation and leapfrog into a new energy system.

Good quality public transportation is another piece in the puzzle. India luckily has a fairly good public transport network. It should be upgraded and made more renewable.

Mitigation is a very big issue. If countries in the global South don't actively begin it now, then a few decades down the line we may have reached the point of no return, triggering tipping points in the climate system.

Gradually, there needs to be a shift towards a shared economy.

In Amsterdam, for example, new buildings are telling owners that there's no parking space for all cars and home owners need to share cars, cycles and other vehicles. India traditionally had a culture of sharing till the 90s. For mitigation, it is very important that we start reevaluating our old values.

We also need to think about water conservation and using products that use less water. In Australia, they're moving from one nut to the other to save water. Thinking about more crop per drop becomes critical for the farming community.

There is a school of thought which says global south countries should focus more on poverty alleviation rather than on climate issues or energy transition. But these issues are increasingly getting interlinked to the extent that it’s no more an either/or choice. What role can mapping and visualization play to drive this message harder?

The argument that poverty, development, health and environment are competing issues is outdated. These are linked issues. Many health issues can be avoided if environmental issues are accounted for. Similarly, efforts to reduce poverty of develop new infrastructure may be wiped out by the impacts of climate change.

Poverty alleviation using fossil fuels, even for basic energy access, locks us into a future which is going to create bigger problems in the long run. The challenge before India and other developing countries is to decentralize renewable energy grids for the poor.

We need to create a system that makes it easier for people to learn how to maintain and fix them as well. The skills and the training necessary for it is not really complicated, and India has an advantage with in-house knowledge and a vast talent pool of engineers. And

in all this, we need to ensure good demand side management.

Mobilizing scholars, policymakers and NGOs to think of how best different priorities can be integrated is critical to finding the right context relevant solutions.

Visualization enables us to see something about the social indicators, not just soil quality, which can be mapped through remote sensing, etc.

Visualization processes need to develop further to not only show environmental challenges, but also socio-economic challenges to be truly useful for policymaking. This can enable social opportunities to be equitable through access to quality education, healthcare etc.

Are we at a standpoint to achieve the Paris Agreement goals before 2030?

The window of actually achieving 1.5 C target is closing very fast. We need to race to achieve it. Once it is crossed and a tipping point is triggered then anything can happen. The main reason we have to race now is because for the last 35 years, we took it easy.

The Himalayas are melting fast, and if they keep melting the way they are now, there will be heavy flooding first and then there'll be no water. While I am primarily blaming the developed countries for slow action, the developing world needs to come together.

They need to assess what can be done, what needs to be done and how this can be mobilized domestically. In the international negotiations they need to cooperate better to put pressure on global North countries.

We have to urgently reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. This is necessary for the future of all our children.

Interviewed by Aditya Chaturvedi

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EARTH OBSERVATION BUSINESS KEY PRIORITY FOR OMAN

Data-based insights have always informed our decisions and choices. Space data not only informs us but h elps predict and a nalyze what we can’t see view from the ground.

Myriad Solutions

Various sectors of the economy employ spacebased data. For instance, it is crucial in the agro

We aim to position Oman as a regional gateway for technological development, collaboration, and applications. We have invited many global service providers to establish a local presence in the country and benefit from our geopolitical relationships to penetrate various markets.

impact is another great example. There are multiple applications of space data across sectors.

In the future, AI will be a part of most applications. There are many ways space services will embrace AI, such as controlling orbital satellites, sorting data and images prior to sending them to ground stations, analyzing data and images and providing intelligent insights based on ML.

Muscat Roadmap

phases along the timeline of the policy.

The EO business is a priority for the country that has been identified in the policy.

The philosophy behind executing these projects is to partner with the private sector and attract investments. The EO business is a priority for the country that has been identified in the policy.

sector to monitor and control crops and pests. It also helps to remotely manage farm operations.

Environmental sector and fisheries are also highly reliant on space data and insights to track illegal activities and ensure compliance.

Maritime observation and tracking ships to avoid any ecological

Oman has embarked on a long term development policy and executive program for the space sector. This is the first national plan that that envisions to establish the country as a regional gateway for space applications and technologies.

The plan also highlights the focus on the downstream segment to maximise the potential benefits for socio-economic development.

In order to realise this vision, the executive program identified 14 strategic projects to be executed over three

While the upstream segment is not a national priority yet, the government facilitates investments in this segment.

The spaceport project is one of the ones in which the government blessed and facilitated a private investment.

We aim to position Oman as a regional gateway for technological development, collaboration, and applications.

We have invited many global service providers to establish a local presence in the country and benefit from our geopolitical relationships to penetrate various markets.

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 57 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

GEOSPATIAL DATA INTEGRATION FOR SUSTAINABLE TRANSITION

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Dr. Victor Khoo Director, Survey and Geomatics Singapore Land Authority

Integration of geospatial data with cutting-edge technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), the Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud computing is not merely an enhancement but a necessary evolution to meet the increasing demands of our complex world.

The challenges we face today—ranging from climate change to urban planning—demand multi-faceted solutions.

Integration is essential, not only among various technological paradigms but also across different types of data and information.

For instance, the synergy between GNSS location data, IoT sensors, high resolution digital maps, and cloud technologies exemplifies the kind of integrated solutions required to meet the sophisticated expectations of smart city users today.

This integration extends to combining diverse data types such as terrestrial, marine, cadastre, atmospheric, and biodiversity.

Under the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM), experts in land administration data are tasked with developing a framework for this integration.

One of the most compelling illustrations of

this integrated approach is the concept of Digital Twin, which amalgamate 2D and 3D geospatial data, IoT sensor data, and realtime analytics into a cohesive digital representation of the physical world.

This integration facilitates the creation of sophisticated models that can predict, visualize, and manage complex phenomena, offering solutions to problems ranging from urban planning to environmental conservation.

Comprehensive Ecosystem

For geospatial information technology to realize its full potential, a comprehensive and innovative ecosystem is imperative.

This involves not only the integration of data and technology but also a concerted effort towards fostering innovation in data processing, visualization, and application.

The transition to a geospatial knowledge infrastructure is already underway in several countries, including Singapore, where the emphasis is on deriving actionable insights from geospatial data to inform decision-making across various sectors.0

To achieve this, collaboration among stakeholders is crucial. This includes collaboration between data providers, technology developers, and end-users across

The future of geospatial domain is intrinsically linked to its ability to integrate with emerging technologies, foster innovative ecosystems, and contribute to sustainable development.

different sectors such as climate crisis management, sustainability, smart cities, and beyond.

Additionally, the exploration of new frontiers such as the metaverse presents an opportunity for geospatial to provide even more immersive and realistic representations of the Digital Twin. It further enhances our ability to interact with and understand complex data in a spatial context.

Sustainable Transition

As we look towards the future, the role of geospatial information in facilitating a sustainable transition cannot be overstated.

The adoption of cloud computing offers a pathway to handle the ever-increasing volume and variety of geospatial data more efficiently, enabling real-time insights and collaborative problem-solving.

Location information and cloud environment stands as a catalyst for fostering collaboration and bridging divides through shared frameworks and objectives,

such as those outlined by the United Nations.

The sustainable development goals by UN is also a platform where different nations have a common objective. Geospatial Information is a key enabler here.

Common Framework

It is imperative that a strong geospatial information management framework be present globally as well as nationally.

This ensures the availability of quality geospatial data, which can be used as an enabler to tackle environmental and climate change issues.

The future of geospatial domain is intrinsically linked to its ability to integrate with emerging technologies, foster innovative ecosystems, and contribute to sustainable development.

Strategic application of geospatial data and technology will be paramount in crafting solutions that are not only effective but also equitable and sustainable.

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 59 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

THE HIDDEN DYNAMIC OF DIGITAL TWIN

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Professor Freek Van Der Meer Dean of the Faculty Geo-information and Earth Observation (ITC), University of Twente

Artificial Intelligence and Machine

Learning have been around for decades. However, on one hand technology is advancing at a rampant pace, and on the other big tech players such as Google are also entering the market to develop these technologies faster.

Traditional boundaries of what used to be geo-informatics is now getting blurred with informatics, mathematics, physics and all sorts of integrations.

Towards Digital Twin

Geospatial is at the forefront to monitor what is going on. We already have a lot of Earth observation data and the time monitor, develop mitigation plans, and provide forecasts such as early warning systems and near real-time monitoring systems.

Now we actually need a Digital Twin of the Earth to understand, develop scenarios, see probable events and make mitigation plans and develop strategies accordingly.

Technology is suitable for adaptation strategies, but when it comes to mitigation, it's really a combination of engineering solutions and behavior.

It is fascinating to see what we can do with Digital Twins.

When it comes to Digital Twin, engineering is only one aspect of it. While the other is understanding human behavior.

We should make a connection between technology, psychology, social science and culture, because a lot of mitigating efforts depend on influence and behavior.

Thinking Spatially

Most decision-makers don't really think spatially, when they consider risks and uncertainties. When we interact with decision makers, we present to them how to use it in an actionable way, in the form of storytelling.

There’s a need to understand how decision-makers think in terms of risk perceptions, uncertainty and resources, and translate stories into a mindset that helps them to actually make decisions.

For the University of Twente and ITC, learning is lifelong process. We encourage people to upskill and reskill themselve.

The future role of academia will become an integral part of the

Technology is suitable for adaptation strategies, but when it comes to mitigation, it's really a combination of engineering solutions and behavior.

society, as we gradually move from being co-creators for the society to co-creating for it.

The role of university today is to provide baseline of facts for discussion, which is difficult, but universities need to really engage and collaborate with society.

That is the kind of transformation, the that's needed, where research, education and innovation become the single thread of co-creation.

Customized Solutions

As goes the famous American psychologist Abraham Maslow's Law of the Instrument, "If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail."

Out tool here is geospatial, to solve all the major global problems like looking at renewable energy and creating climate adaptation strategies, and how we can use Earth Observation data with geospatial models to address the needs of future cities.

That is where geospatial as a domain can make a transition to connect complicated models to simple stories, to convince decision makers

at all different levels.

With the current pace of rapid urbanization, 20 years from now, almost the entire world population will live in cities.

To design a thriving city, there’s a need to keep in mind the existing population, as well as the environmental and sustainability factor.

Concerted Outlook

While dealing with volumes of Big Data, the bottom line is not to forget about the people on the field, and grasp real world insights and local knowledge to tackle global challenges.

We need to connect social scientists and people working in communication to culture. Through a multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach, we need to bring together communities.

Grassroots knowledge and domain expertise are both crucial to make a proper interpretation of the models.

We constantly strive to make a difference across disaster resilience, resource security, biodiversity, global health, geospatial AI, and technology integration.

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 61 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

Mitigation Begins with Measurement

A conversation with Dr. Gianpaolo Balsamo, Director, Global Greenhouse Watch, World Meteorological Organization ( WMO) on monitoring methane emissions, and the sustainability roadmap ahead.

2023 was the hottest year in recorded history. Increasing global warming and intensifying pollution is triggering environmental degradation, adversely affecting people’s habitats and initiating a chain reaction of instability and

crisis. How can Global Green House Watch insights help vulnerable communities residing in climate risk zones?  The Paris Agreement provides a framework for Climate Action to reduce the atmospheric concentrations of the Greenhouse Gases responsible for Climate Change.

The Global Greenhouse Gas Watch, or G3W in short, will coordinate global effort for measuring progress in abating emissions and reducing concentration for Carbon Dioxide, Methane, and Nitrous Oxide, the top three gases responsible for global warming and associated

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impacts that manifest in extreme weather.

We cannot manage what we don't measure and therefore our first priority is to foster a coordinate Global Observation Network of surface and space-based sensors to accurately measure the Greenhouse Gases, or GHGs.

Greenhouse gas emissions, particularly methane, is responsible for most of the global warming. With the help of satellites we now have near real-time data of hotspots globally. What can governments and citizen collectives do to translate this info into concrete action?

Methane, or CH4 to use its chemical formula, is the second most abundant GHG after Carbon Dioxide, or CO2. While Nitrous Oxide, or N2O is less abundant but is a very potent Greenhouse Gas.

Abating Methane is very important as it is part of the IPCC Carbon budget calculations involved in the Paris Agreement.

COP28 has reached a consensus on transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade to achieve net zero by 2050.

It is important to reduce CO2 CH4 and N2O concentrations with a plan to phase out fossil fuel combustion.

The priority and speed of GHGs reduction needs to follow the science guidelines and convert them into effective policy. The role of G3W will be to provide the observational support to the National Climate Change mitigations efforts until the goal of climate neutrality is achieved in 2050.

Therefore, our plans and vision extends over the next three decades and in alignment with

We cannot manage what we don't measure and therefore our first priority is to foster a coordinate Global Observation Network of surface-based and space-based sensors capable to accurately measure the Greenhouse Gases, or GHGs.

the Paris Agreement Enhanced Transparency Framework. There are virtuous behaviours that each and everyone can adopt to reduce the emissions.

Climate Change has become a keystone at all leading global summits and conclaves. It is at the core of policy discourse is most countries. Yet the progress on achieving the Paris Agreement goals is still not up to the mark. What do you think needs to be done to put it on track?

The nationally determined contributions collect the nations efforts and ambitions to abate Greenhouse Gases, but to be effective they need a system that can reliably measure the effectiveness of the deployed Climate change solutions. As any doctor or manager will tell, to manage you need to measure.

This is true for complex systems such as the human body and it is equally true for the planet's climate where we need to accurately measure the concentrations and emissions of Greenhouse Gases, the primary cause of Climate Change.

In the Paris Agreement, the Global Stocktake represents this assessment step. The G3W infrastructure will empower the Global Stocktake to be based on the best science practices and technology such as technology of Earth Observations. This would also include satellites and surface based measurements optimally combined using Earth System Models and

feeding into information products for science informed decision making.

Tell us about the new Global Greenhouse Watch Draft implementation plan ?

The G3W-IP is a detailed action plan drafted by 35 world renowned GHGs experts who have engaged several more experts organised in drafting teams.

As Director of the G3W, I have coordinated the plan consolidation into a document via an open revision process that engaged a thousand experts.

The G3W IP is now published as an official document that is going to be presented to the 193 Nations of the World Meteorological Organisation for further discussion and endorsement by the WMO Executive Council.

The Implementation Plan covers in detail the steps in the next 4-years and projects the vision thereafter. This is now an official document that will be evaluated discussed and ultimately endorsed by the intergovernmental bodies of the WMO.

The proper action plan of the future will continue to be a science-driven plan, as the Earth system responds to the law of physics, and the planet temperature must be stabilised for life to continue to prosper. It is not feasible to negotiate with physics, we have to work with it.

Interviewed by Aditya Chaturvedi

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 63 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

GEOSPATIAL DASHBOARDS FOR RELIABLE DECISION-MAKING

Geospatial is at the centre of where every day “change” occurs. All actors, including global financial institutions, have spotted this , creating more robust and consolidated geospatial powerhouses worldwide.

Emerging technologies such as AI and ML are accelerating the processing power for analyzing, correcting, and augmenting different types of geospatial data. AI, ML, IoT are no longer industry trends, they are here to stay and gradually be absorbed in all IT-initiatives including geospatial powered ones.

Seamless Data Flow

The geospatial community witnesses huge digital transformations and daily explosions of new raw data that flows in at real-time

speeds. Although the data capturing process is fast, maintaining the right quality level as data evolves over time, remains the bigger challenge.

We see, too much, degrading data quality over time that has the potential to lead to wrong business decisions. To load it once has become easy. The real challenge is updating data and syncing it.

There is a need of good quality actionable data with a focus to keep the “system of record” up-to-date using Digital Twin concepts.

In order to foster a comprehensive and innovative geospatial ecosystem, there is a need to introduce continuous real-time feed-back from the field.

The Digital Twin market is going to flourish, as it supports all

Geospatial is the true eye-opener. People see what is going on, not by using an abstract tabular report via the power of maps. Though it appears easy, but there is a need for the right software toolsets and industry expertise to make it a reality.

forms of asset mapping. For a Digital Twin to be of significance, there has to be data collection and a seamless and continuous flow of information from the physical to the digital model.

Geospatial is the true eye-opener. People see what is going on, not by using an abstract tabular report but with the power of intelligent maps.

Though it appears easy, but there is a need for the right enterprise software toolsets and vast industry expertise to make it a reality.

Real-time Insights

ML and computer vision are not new to the geospatial imaging market. They have been heavily used

since more than a decade. The execution speed of digital transformation is a direct effect of AI, which will only accelerate in the future.

There is still a lot of undiscovered potential when it comes to decision-makers embracing spatial technologies to harmonise economic necessities, because in many ways geospatial remains the domain of the specialists, the academic community and engineers.

As more data can be trusted, geospatial dashboard technology will surface. This would allow decision-makers to to look at a spectrum of data real-time making right decisions on-the-fly.

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DEMYSTIFYING SPATIAL CONTEXT

Most of the big Fortune 500 companies today are problem-solvers, and it won’t be an overstatement to say that over 90% of them have a spatial use-case. Salience of geospatial is a recurring thread all across. This is because everything happens in a space and time continuum.

With a lot of startups trying to study weather patterns, track pollution, or map carbon footprint, geospatial takes the center-stage in Climate Change mitigation efforts as well.

Similarly, ensuring food security is of utmost importance for the future of humanity. With the help of geospatial-based smart technology, we can decrease operational costs and simultaneously boost production to feed the growing population.

Versatile Applications

De facto, the geospatial industry is highly map-centered. Though increasingly, AI and

predictive analytics have emerged of great utility for everything from weather forecasting to agricultural production.

Spatial use-cases are ubiquitous across all industries, though the degree and magnitude varies. For instance, over a decade back the insurance sector was not geospatially context driven, while today most insurance companies have a spatial strategy.

Whether it is claim forecasting for property damage due to disasters, or underwriting process, the spatial component is absolutely critical. Organizations are purchasing spatial technology and embedding it into their stacks.

There is really no alternative to spatial data for providing insights on the most pressing challenges to planners and decision-makers.

AI Outlook

Cloud has emerged as a true game-changer in the geospatial domain with the proliferation of data and the rise of near realtime actionable insights across use-cases and

AI and predictive analytics are of great utility for everything from weather forecasting to agricultural production.

verticals, and applications with many uses, enabling near real-time actionable insights.

What’s most significant for the geospatial industry is the spatial attribute and the ability to get maximum functionality and tech stack optimization for spatial data infrastructure, analytics, and moving forward, an organization’s AI needs.

There are multiple dimensions defining data, but location and time are the most crucial ones. However, they are incomplete without a spatial context. A common challenge that users face is integrating data sources and creating a unified spatial context to derive value.

An underlying trend these days is bringing spatial context into data stack instead of having a completely

new GIS stack. One of the limitations is that be it conventional Cloud data infrastructure companies such as AWS, Azure, or Google, or even specialized data warehousing solutions, they don't treat spatial analytics and AI as first class citizens. This is where Robots Cloud comes in.

We are building a Cloud data infrastructure for spatial analytics and AI, which would redefine a lot of things. Solving the data integration riddle is at the core of what we do.

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THE SPATIAL ANALYTICS AND AI CLOUD

Wherobots offers the most scalable, fully-managed cloud spatial analytics platform. Our cloud-native, scalable spatial database engine provides enterprise-scale spatial data infrastructure for myriads of applications in automotive, logistics, supply chain, insurance, real estate, agriculture tech, climate tech, and more.

Apache SedonaTM Wherobots Cloud WE PROVIDE INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS

Creative, scalable, productionready and enterprise-grade solutions for spatial analytics & AI workloads with SedonaDB and Wherobots Cloud.

Apache Sedona™, Cluster computing for large-scale spatial data. Extends platforms like Spark, Flink, and Snowflake with Spatial Datasets and SQL for efficient analysis.

A spatial analytics and AI cloud that can manage and provision cloud resources for SedonaDB as well as other major spatial analytics tools.

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wherobots.com

DIGITAL TWIN FOR DISASTER RESILIENT THAILAND

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The integration of geospatial with advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), and other emerging tech marks a transformative era in understanding and interacting with our world.

Geospatial not only enhances decision-making and planning but also fosters a collaborative and innovative ecosystem for sustainable development.

Digital Transformation Catalyst

Geospatial serves as the backbone for numerous applications critical to the digital transformation of societies and economies.

From disaster response and urban planning to agriculture and smart cities, the application of geospatial data, when combined with AI and IoT, unlocks a myriad of possibilities.

The ability to conduct real-time or near-real-time analysis and visualization leads to timely insights for decision-making.

This fusion of technologies enables faster, more dynamic monitoring and provides better insights into various phenomena affecting our world.

Digital Twins and high-definition maps exemplify the critical role of geospatial visualization in digital transformation,

acting as essential components in creating more resilient and efficient urban environments.

Thailand is moving towards a Geospatial Knowledge Infrastructure, emphasizing the importance of open data initiatives, standardization, and collaboration that includes coverage and partnerships.

The initiative “GI for All” in Thailand makes Geospatial data available and accessible for all.

The Five-Year plan from 2023-2027 encourage relevant government agencies to release geospatial data under open license to promote transparency, collaboration, and innovation.

This initiative will enable developers and researchers to leverage geospatial information for a wide range of applications and services. Standardization and protocols for Geospatial design format metadata and API will facilitate the opportunity in different system.

By making geospatial data accessible and fostering partnerships across government, private sector, academia, and non-profits, there is a need to innovate and support the development of a comprehensive geospatial ecosystem.

Enhancing Resilience

The implementation of Digital Twins has the potential to significantly enhance Thailand's

Digital

Twin has the potential to significantly enhance Thailand's resilience to natural disasters, develop livable smart cities, and enable effective environmental conservation.

resilience to natural disasters, develop livable smart cities, and enable effective environmental conservation.

It allows for the simulation and optimization of city infrastructures, offering a tool for urban planners and policymakers to improve the quality of life for residents and ensure sustainable urban development.

Digital Twins can also track environmental change and predict the future scenarios where policymaker can effectively address climate impacts.

Additionally, by facilitating the analysis of environmental changes and energy consumption, Digital Twins contribute to more informed climate action and energy planning.

By providing readyto-use information and solutions, businesses utilizing satellite imagery is supported for various applications, from agriculture to infrastructure monitoring. This encourages the development of geospatial data-driven business models.

This approach not only serves the imme-

diate needs of the Thai people but also lays the groundwork for a vibrant and innovative geospatial ecosystem.

Global Cooperation

Earth Observation and geospatial data offer a unique, objective view of our planet that transcends political boundaries, making them powerful tools for international cooperation.

By providing reliable information, these technologies can help mitigate geopolitical tensions and foster collaboration on shared challenges such as climate change and environmental conservation.

Thailand's digital transformation is advancing and also contributing to a future where technology enables a more resilient, sustainable, and interconnected world.

This is being done through open data access, standardization, and partnerships, bridging the gap technology and opportunity,

We need to pave the way for a future where geospatial innovation plays a central role in shaping societies and economies for the better.

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 69 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

GEOSPATIAL PIVOTAL TO NET ZERO ECONOMY

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Antoine Halff Chief Analyst & Co-Founder, Kayrros

The power of Earth Observation isn’t just on the hardware side, or in the profusion of satellites that are becoming cheaper to build and launch, or in the sensors they carry It is also on the software side, in the AI/ML-built algorithms that squeeze more precise, actionable information out of them.

There is already a huge amount of information that is just begging to be used more systematically to help reduce our climate footprint and slow global warming, to name just two of our priorities.

We use AI to fuse data from multiple satellites, and to match earth observations with our vast database of millions of industrial and energy assets.

These software advances have been key to bring the level of nearreal-time transparency along many climate and environmental metrics.

Tackling Uncertainty

The world is heating up both meteorologically and politically, becoming more unstable on many fronts. Instability isn’t usually a recipe for growth and robustness.

Neither are climate catastrophes. But geospatial is at the very least a powerful mitigating factor, a tool that can be used to manage all this uncertainty and unpredictability, which will even help slow global warming, if rightly used.

It is not optional. Geospatial data and applications are key to measure things. As the saying goes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure.

The transparency provided by geospatial makes it possible to manage our climate footprint in a meaningful way and take effective action to tackle the climate emergency – and to do so cost-efficiently.

There is a proliferation of data, and each new data streams unlocks a wealth of use cases. Some of these use cases are so new that a lot of market education needs to be done to get traction.

But there really is no contradiction between economic necessity and demands for sustainability. It is a false dichotomy.

The cost of ignoring demands for sustainability is orders of magnitude greater than that of tackling them.

Many climate and sustainability solutions are revenue generating and can unlock opportunities that would not otherwise exist.

Building clean energy projects is regions that had remained beyond the reach of modern energy services is a case in point.

Climate Governance

Climate change knows no borders. Neither does geospatial tech. Transparency on climate issues brought by geospatial can set the stage for a

With geospatial, methane footprint can be reduced quickly and carbon space can be opened up to tackle longer term measures to reduce CO2 and transition to a lower-carbon economy.

new climate governance regime.

For example, outlawing methane super-emitters is now technically within reach, thanks to geospatial monitoring. Such a measure could slow global warming by 0.3 to 0.5°C in less than five years.

Methane mitigation is the poster child for geospatial-enabled measures that could change the trajectory of climate change.

We cannot dream of achieving our climate goals without tackling anthropogenic methane emissions real fast. Geospatial makes that possible.

Unrivalled Tools

Satellites are key for methane tracking in at least two ways. They see emission events that for the most part could not be seen otherwise, such as massive but intermittent emission events known as super-emitters. They also measure leaks that can’t get measured from the ground.

There is a widespread misperception that local in-situ sensors hold the ground truth while satellites are just an approximation. Nothing could be further from the

truth: because of the way methane disperses, many large leaks or releases cannot be properly measured with local sensors, but can be accurately and precisely quantified from space.

But even more importantly, satellite monitoring of methane is independent. The granularity, spatial resolution, revisit frequency, coverage, sensitivity and cost-efficiency of satellites keep getting better.

This makes them an unrivalled tool of accountability for methane emissions.

Methane abatement is the number one priority for climate action, for reasons that are thankfully becoming familiar: it is the fastest growing greenhouse gas and a very potent one, with roughly 85 times the warming power of CO2 in the first 20 years.

Many anthropogenic methane emissions are comparatively easy to avoid. With geospatial, methane footprint can be reduced quickly and carbon space can be opened up to tackle longer term measures to reduce CO2 and transition to a lower-carbon economy.

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 71 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

Data Hubs to Advance SDGs and Build Resilient Economies

A vast repository of actionable data is integral to advance sustainability goals and make the world a better place to live

In order to achieve a more sustainable world, robust economic prosperity, and shock resilience, many ‘enabling’ factors need to be at play.

These includes strengthening productive capacities, ensuring social justice and equity, transparent financial markets and investment, stronger governance and institutional settings, and efficient resource consumption and management.

However, countries are now also becoming more aware of and dependent on other ‘cross-cutting’ enabling factors in the digital transformation domain – in science, technology, space research, and other analytical capacities.

These include digital infrastructure; robotics and automation; innovation and knowledge capital; and the benefits and value of data, sensors, networks, and location intelligence to guide and support evidence-based policy and decision-making.

This is where we see the role of geospatial data, information, and enabling technologies making a significant impact into the future.

Governments, at least to some degree, now understand the need for reliable data, information, and knowledge to support their deci-

sions – and to ensure a level of transparency and accountability.

Boosting Development

Moving forward, countries and sectors will have a growing need for geospatial information to support national development, policy, and decision-making, and to achieve socio-economic prosperity.

Information systems that are comprehensive, coordinated, integrated, and underpinned by geospatial information technologies and applications, provide the evidence on ‘where’ people interact with their place, cities and environment, and to deliver timely and reliable information necessary for citizens, organizations and governments to build accountable actions, decisions and impact.

Managing Complexity

Geospatial technologies and the geopolitical landscape are often perceived as being co-dependent, especially given the long history of map-making in a military context. Both are anchored to location, knowing what is happening where and when, and understanding geographic positions on Earth.

However, with increasing globalization, our world is becoming increasingly complex, and perhaps less resilient. One of the major learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic was that it demonstrated how entrenched our interconnected world, and commensurate vulnerability, had become – especially with global supply chains.

The pandemic had no respect for political borders, development divides, or physical limitations. No country was left untouched, although the developed world suffered much more than the developing world, and all governments and sectors of society were significantly impacted, creating ripple effects, shocks, and prolonged distress to the global economy.

But at the same time, reinforced the unprecedented need for timely data, geospatial information, enabling technologies, and insights for governments and citizens across the globe, to not only enable decision-makers to inform policies and planning, but to also minimize the risk to people, especially the most vulnerable population groups.

The pandemic also provided a catalyst for bridging divides and forging collaborative digital transformation and innovation in multiple areas of society.

Every country had to learn to adapt, and every country used technology to do so – including geospatial technologies. Today, we are much more technologically mobile and adaptive than in the past. That bodes well for the future.

Knowledge Infrastructure

The geospatial knowledge infrastructure (GKI) concepts, a bit like the UN-IGIF, challenge us to move beyond ‘geospatial data as a product’ to ‘geospatial knowledge as an outcome’ within the broader digital ecosystem.

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For communicating to external stakeholders, this messaging is important, as geospatial data ecosystem is only a part, albeit a very important one, of the wider digital data ecosystem.

In this regard, as we think more about building resilient and sustainable economies we need to recognize and adapt to how digital technologies and innovation are evolving and are able to assist governments, industry, and the broader community to better understand the role of geospatial information within the ‘knowledge economy’.

This helps us to then focus more on the provision of solutions – being able to solve problems, rather than on provision of data – and you solve the problem. This means data, applications, analytics, and existing knowledge are embedded in the process and creating the value.

Making a Difference

The SDG Data Alliance is establishing a very special role as a means to provide and accelerate SDG implementation reality in developing countries – including some of the world’s least developed countries.

Using the power of purposedriven collaboration, global geospatial frameworks, innovation, and enabling GIS technology from Esri, the SDG Data Alliance is presently supporting 20 countries in Central and South America, the Caribbean, Pacific Islands, and Africa.

With the mantra ‘country led, and country owned, the Data Alliance’s unique approach allows countries to not only track progress towards achieving the SDGs, but to develop the necessary national capabilities and capacities to make data-driven decisions based on their unique national circumstances.

We provide methods, frameworks, and technology, and they make them their own. We provide guidance and they do. They learn

Two-Pronged Approach

Creation and implementation

UN-IGIF Country-level Action Plans to improve national geospatial information management, an essential element of national digital infrastructures

SDG Data Hubs

SDG Data Hubs to enable national leaders and communities to better integrate, visualize and understand their data so they can make better decisions and act on a range of national development priorities and the SDGs.

and gain knowledge and we learn and gain knowledge. They grow and we grow. Most importantly as a partnership – there is a high level of trust, commitment and collaboration established on both sides.

Expansion

Now, building on this momentum, the SDG Data Alliance is focused on growing its reach and impact and is turning its sights toward Small Island Developing States (SIDS) as they prepare for the United Nations’ 4th Conference of Small Island Developing States (SIDS4), hosted by Antigua & Barbuda May 27-30.

SIDS4 is a unique once-in-adecade gathering that will bring together Heads of State from 39 island countries to shape a ten year economic framework for sustainable development.

Island nations are impacted the most by climate change, though they have contributed the least. On the frontlines of the climate crisis, they have become one of the most influential blocs during climate negotiations.

During the 78th United Nations General Assembly in September 2023, PVBLIC signed an agreement with the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and Antigua and Barbuda, with the support of the UN Office of Project Services (UNOPS), to collaborate on the expansion

of the SDG Data Alliance to the 39 island nations.

In November, PVBLIC signed a Partnership Framework Agreement with the Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda, Gaston Browne, outlining the creation of a Center of Excellence and Global Data Hub for Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which will be focused on propelling small island developing states into a future marked by resilient prosperity, and sustainable development.

The SDG Data Alliance, with partners Antigua and Barbuda and UNOPS, plans to begin implementation in 2024 with the creation of a SIDS Global Data Hub, with the objective to establish a sustainable and enduring repository for comprehensive socio-economic and environmental data on SIDS.

Additional plans and exciting announcements will be made during SIDS4 in late May. We hope to see the geospatial community there in full force in support of the sustainable development of island nations.

Stephen Keppel & Sergio Fernández de Córdova PVBLIC Foundation
JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 73 ARTICLE

REVOLUTIONIZING OCEAN EXPLORATION

The depths of oceans remain one of the last frontiers of exploration on Earth, harbouring vital resources and critical ecological systems. Traditionally, two types of uncrewed vehicles are used to explore the deep sea.

The first type is remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), which are connected to a surface vessel via a communications and control tether and operated by pilots on-board.

The other type is autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), which are tetherless and can travel underwater without requiring operator intervention. Both vehicles are reliable tools for underwater data collection.

However, as the need

to understand the ocean becomes more imperative in the wake of climate change, searching with ROVs and AUVs begin to present shortfalls. They are expensive to build and maintain, and often require large, specialised crews to deploy and retrieve.

Micro-AUVs represent a paradigm shift

Understanding there’s a gap to be filled in the market, we developed Hydrus, a fully autonomous underwater robot that miniaturised multiple technologies to enable a drone-like experience underwater. This introduced the concept of micro-AUVs to the market.

Hydrus is transforming undersea research, inspection, detection and classification by making data capture simple and accessible. It is effectively an all-in-one, untethered autonomous solution ready for use directly out of the box.

This is a critical attribute, given the rate of change in oceans is accelerating and more constant access to knowledge is required to help analyse the ocean’s condition.

Opening up ocean access

Taking into account the harsh environments underwater, Hydrus is equipped with advanced sonar, navigation and communications systems. This allows it to navigate tetherless and fully auton-

omously, utilising object detection and avoidance to adjust missions in real time.

It also allows 3D missions to be planned in minutes without specific knowledge or training.

In a collaboration with the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Hydrus demonstrates its capabilities at the institute’s tropical marine test range on the north eastern coast of Australia, known as ReefWorks.

Hydrus was tasked to autonomously map a predefined area of the seabed to look for specific points of interest—which, in this scenario, were hidden objects intended to represent underwater mines. Typically, exercises of this kind would entail logistical complexities and significant costs.

This would be compounded by the notoriously difficult tropical waters and potential hazards introduced by the simulation. This mirrored a real-world mission in an unfamiliar and hazardous environment.

During the mission, Hydrus autonomously followed a predefined search pattern within a set perimeter in the water, in a path akin to mowing a lawn.

While executing the search pattern, its camera successfully identified

The rise of micro-AUVs is enabling a more efficient ocean economy.

points of interest and captured high-accuracy imagery of the target objects.

By repeating the simulation, the team observed that the mine-like objects had shifted positions on the seabed between each operation.

This not only highlights the complex currents in tropical waters, but also underscores the potential safety risks had the operation been conducted only once, as typically expected with traditional systems.

Looking into the future

A decade ago, underwater surveying and data collection was exclusively the domain of highly trained experts with complex, expensive vehicles.

The rise of micro-AUVs is changing the game by enabling a more efficient ocean economy.

With reduced costs, simplified logistics, and powerful capabilities, micro-AUVs make ocean data more accessible to global communities, scaling up ocean exploration with profound benefits delivered to science, industry, the environment and society at large.

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THE DRONE REVOLUTION UNDERWATER

Hydrus Micro-AUV

Hydrus takes the drone revolution underwater with the most advanced navigation and communication systems of any subsea vehicle. Its ability to detect obstacles, avoid collisions and deliver high-quality georeferenced imagery makes Hydrus an excellent tool for underwater management, surveying and inspection.

Learn more about Hydrus. advancednavigation.com

EMBEDDING AI TO ESCALATE GEOSPATIAL

Where do you think geospatial is headed in the next 5 years?

The integration of AI and ML into core geospatial processes, also known as GeoAI, is accelerating. Although the sky is the limit in terms of applicability, the maturity curve and end-state embeddedness for the geospatial industry remains to be seen.

Within the next five years, AI and ML will be embedded in countless tools the industry uses to collect, process, and analyze geospatial data.

What would be the core future application areas?

We already have the capability for precise spatial analytics, but the entire process gets limited due to velocity and volume of raw input data.

Newer possibilities will surface when overhead platforms persistently deliver real-time, high-resolution data to AI and ML models in the cloud.

Those with access to this information will be able to minimize hazards, improve crop yields, reduce pollution, and generally navigate the physical world more efficiently.

Unlike any other digital information,

geospatial data is not immune to the same alternate representations and interpretation. Consumers already have many choices in where they get geospatial data, analytical outputs, and interpretations.

What would be the impact of Generative AI on the geospatial sector?

Generative AI is expected to usher new ways to move from observation to action, bypassing mapping processes and digital geospatial information as we know it.

Meanwhile, AI and ML would be used as assistive technology in many geospatial processes.

We will need mechanisms to gauge the lineage and veracity of decisions made based on geospatial data and technologies, and in all likelihood, these mechanisms will take a form of governance and regulation that currently does not exist.

Though there are existing resources to capture high-resolution 3D spatial data, they are allocated primarily to project work.

Due to variable government procurement cycles or discontinuous areas of interest, wide-area, high-resolution coverage rarely happens.

What is the role of mapping in socio economic development?

There is no alternative to accurate, timely mapping for economic development and stability.

Updated digital maps are extremely valuable to support critical societal functions such as land administration, natural resource management, infrastructure design, delivery of goods and services, and emergency management.

A marketplace for raw pixels and point clouds is much needed. It will encourage the industry to collect data continuously, leading to increased velocity and

volume, and lower cost.

How do you build a dynamic geospatial ecosystem?

To build a geospatial ecosystem, there is a need for digital twins that maintain fidelity to the real 3D world.

Updates to digital twins and HD maps depend on timely observation and inputs, but the mechanisms for this real-time collection, especially from overhead observation are lacking.

From updating digital twins in Singapore to regenerating 30-year-old topographic maps of Africa, we understand the criticality of geospatial tech and data.

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FOSTERING RESOURCE SUSTAINABILITY

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Anna Marie Cook Co-Founder, Kamilo

Geospatial is ideally suited for integration with AI and ML by using location-based data to train algorithms that can predict patterns, trends, and enhance decision-making in areas such as urban planning, environmental monitoring, and logistics.

When combined with IoT, geospatial technology leverages data from sensors and devices spread across various locations to provide real-time insights and automated responses to spatially related events and phenomena.

The future of integrating core geospatial technology with AI, ML, and IoT is set to redefine the landscape of industries, aligning closely with the principles of Industry 4.0.

This convergence is creating smarter, more connected manufacturing ecosystems, where realtime tracking and predictive analytics enhance operational efficiency and sustainability.

Ecological Footprint

In this evolving landscape, Industry 4.0’s focus on automation, data

exchange, and interconnected systems merges seamlessly with advanced geospatial solutions, enabling businesses to anticipate disruptions, optimize production, and reduce environmental impact.

The outcome is a significant enhancement of the bottom line through improved resource management and waste reduction.

As these technologies continue to intertwine, the future promises not only greater transparency and accountability but also a robust platform to drive economic value while advancing sustainable practices.

Risk Management

By harnessing the power of geospatial datasets, decision-makers at all levels can significantly enhance strategic planning, operational efficiency, and sustainability initiatives.

Geospatial data facilitates better risk management by providing spatial insights into market trends, consumer behaviors, and environmental impacts, empowering leaders to anticipate changes and adapt

Confronting complex issues plaguing marine ecosystems necessitates creative solutions, with geospatial emerging as a key resource for recording and evaluating the spread and effects of oceanic pollution.

strategies proactively thus securing a competitive edge.

Integrating geospatial data into decision-making processes not only drives economic success but also fosters a commitment to sustainable practices, demonstrating corporate responsibility and enhancing brand reputation.

Combatting Inequities

In today's climate of geopolitical tension and complex challenges, geospatial technology stands out as a crucial instrument for addressing disparities and fostering collective progress globally.

The integration of advanced, cohesive data sets, covering various aspects of issues from environmental consequences to social injustices, enables global communities and governments to make well-informed decisions, strategically allocate resources, and pursue sustainable initiatives.

The availability of extensive global data sets provides policymakers with the critical information needed to craft policies that advocate for sustainability.

Accessibility to these data sets facilitates the investment in eco-friendly infrastructure and the launch of local initiatives, catalyzing international collaboration and bridging geopolitical divides with shared environmental goals.

Marine Pollution

Confronting complex issues plaguing marine ecosystems necessitates creative solutions, with geospatial emerging as a key resource for recording and evaluating the spread and effects of oceanic pollution.

This technology synthesizes information from a variety of sources, such as drones, satellites, and maritime observations, offering a detailed view of the ways in which pollution accumulates and flows through marine and coastal areas.

The cornerstone of preventing plastic pollution in our oceans hinges on ensuring responsible handling of waste.

The broad application of geolocation intelligence technology allows for precise monitoring of changes in marine biodiversity, the extent of coastal erosion, and the concentration of various pollutants, including plastic debris and chemical discharge, in the ocean.

Furthermore, geospatial data offers valuable insights into the impact of pollution mitigation efforts on marine protected areas, revealing shifts in habitat quality and the recuperation of marine life over time.

It also aids in assessing the effectiveness of sustainable fishing methods and the reduction of overfishing in targeted areas, which are crucial for the sustenance of healthy ocean ecosystems.

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SOLVING THE DATA RIDDLE

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Jan Kestle President, Environics Analytics

Technology advancements have invariably enabled researchers to access new kinds of data.

In the consumer marketing space, over the past five decades, researchers went from relying on basic census data and sample surveys to combining them –leading to geo-demographics.

As a result, we got to know where things happen and their significance. It enabled us to draw inferences about consumer patterns.

When businesses began tracking their actual customer behaviour in POS and CRM systems, this behaviour data was used to build models – expanding into what we called predictive analytics.

At the same time, desktop mapping and GIS tools became more accessible – so retailers, government planners and many others combined modelling with spatial analytics.

Then came the digital era, where purchasing, researching and advertising moved online.

Secret Sauce

Geography is often “the secret sauce” to help test representativity, normalize data, ensure privacy is embedded, and ensure goodquality analytics.

We are on the verge of true data-driven decision-making and an era where there will be true effectiveness measurement.

Data scientists and business leaders must lead with a strategy that ensures ethics, best practices, and standards to take advantage of this to help organizations make better decisions.

The use of smallarea data, combined with first-party data when used properly, finally gets us to the holy grail of advertising –better attribution, data blending, and accurate measurement of marketing effectiveness.

We are using more data, combining traditional and innovative analytical techniques, and we will have clear and near-real-time feedback on what is working.

Clean rooms will allow brands to co-market and public sector organizations to combine with other data providers and models to create something close to Digital Twins.

As time and location gets embedded in realtime data, a whole new world of local analytics opens up.

Making decisions based on real data, with testing and learning along the way, helps businesses and governments innovate faster. It’s a truly exciting

Thought leaders, governments, businesses, associations and the data community needs to advocate for geospatial data usage to design workable policies and programs.

opportunity if we let the data speak.

Decoding the Maze

Our economic and social infrastructure relies on understanding the complexity of different populations and markets – small segments and small areas can be analyzed locally and rolled up to inform program design and policy.

Organizations need a data strategy led from the top – by the CEO and the rest of the C-suite – not just the IT, Marketing, or Real Estate analysts.

The tools that are used to harness the data need to be organized across silos. It’s not a time for disparate parts of organizations to each do their own thing.

Moreover, many brilliant programmers and platform designers do not have the methodology expertise to help analysts pick the right tool for the right job.

Data stewardship, methodology standards and a focus on ethics and social responsibility are essential to an effective data strategy.

We are in a battle in many aspects of our lives for “truth”. In journalism, politics and social media it is becoming harder to separate fact from fiction.

Data are so prevalent and technology so powerful that data can make our lives better and make a difference in our future.

Spatial Encapsulation

Many tech firms do not have the expertise to integrate advanced spatial analytics into their platforms.

It’s important for data scientists to test algorithms and outputs from technology not yet embedded with advanced spatial analysis.

Thought leaders, governments, businesses, associations and the data community needs to advocate for geospatial data usage to design workable policies and programs.

Investment, innovation and collaboration are essential. There is no contradiction between leveraging data and protecting the privacy of individuals – it just has to be done right.

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 81 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

ACTIONABLE DRONE DATA FOR SUSTAINABILITY

The integration of geospatial technology with AI, ML, and IoT signifies a paradigm shift in how we understand and interact with our environment. This synergy creates a cohesive ecosystem where geospatial data becomes the key player for well-informed decision-making.

Burgeoning technologies that keep tech redundancies out and aid in easier evaluation, analysis, and insights become frontrunners when sifting through huge chunks of data. Though, a streamlined and accurate collection of data also becomes paramount, but is often looked over and left for latter stages to reorganise and rationalise.

This makes actionable drone data instrumental in advancing the journey towards a sustainable and resilient world. Drones, equipped with cuttingedge data collection capabilities, empower to monitor environmental changes, assess infrastructure, and respond rapidly to crises.

In pursuit of sustain-

ability, the use of actionable drone data facilitates informed decision-making, optimizing resource allocation and fostering the development of resilient communities capable of adapting to evolving challenges.

End-to-end Ecosytem

Various use-cases and an adjunct ecosystem suggest that a distinct and comprehensive end-to-end solution is required to bring real value to the stakeholders.

Covering every stage, from drone take-off to data capture, processing, and final visualization and analysis, PDRL's AeroMegh ecosystem ensures a seamless and integrated approach.

The need for a holistic integration, going beyond the delivery of raw data to provide actionable insights that significantly enhance efficiency and foster innovation in operations is the ultimate requirement from the user’s perspective.

Offering users a complete ecosystem, eliminating the need to navigate through multiple platforms for various tasks also becomes vital. With AeroMegh, users can

Geospatial can bridge divides by facilitating cross-border collaborations, aiding in resource management and disaster response.

effortlessly perform all necessary functions within a single platform, benefiting from the simplicity of our user interface.

Another process that keeps the user in advantage is the hassle-less and straightforward user experience, allowing users to concentrate on their core tasks without unnecessary complexity.

PicStork, a component of PDRL’s ecosystem, empowers AI-powered geospatial analytics. It facilitates the entire process, from preparing geotiff images to building ML models, creating AI workflows, and analysing geospatial data.

The versatility of PicStork extends across diverse industries, including Agriculture, Construction, Infrastructure, and utility inspections. It stands as a testament to PDRL's commitment to delivering innovative solutions that cater to the varied needs of our clients.

Greater Good

In an era marked by geopolitical uncertainty, geospatial technology plays a pivotal role in fostering collaboration. By offering real-time, accurate information, it serves as a neutral platform for dialogue and understanding.

Geospatial can bridge divides by facilitating cross-border collaborations, aiding in resource

management, and enabling swift disaster response. The transparency and objectivity of geospatial data make it a potent tool for building bridges and promoting shared interests in our interconnected world.

Looking ahead, my vision revolves around unleashing the full potential of geospatial technology to collaboratively address global challenges. Innovation will be the driving force, not only in technological advancements but also in our problem-solving approaches.

Embracing innovation entails adapting to change, exploring new possibilities, and staying at the forefront of progress. The future holds exciting opportunities to push the boundaries of geospatial technology, making it an indispensable force for positive transformation on a global scale.

82 | ANNUAL EDITION / JANUARY-MARCH 2024 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

SPATIAL FINANCE FOR A CLIMATE RESILIENT WORLD

In the past few years, the integration of core geospatial with AI, ML, and IoT has picked up pace.

Sensor networks now include not only ground-based sensors for temperature monitoring or grounds or water stress monitoring, but also atmospheric sensors.

Going forward we will be even witnessing quantum sensors. There would be a significant profusion of data to the geospatial data lake.

In terms of climate modeling, ML is very useful for the inferential downscaling because climate models don't necessarily have a lot of granularity, but with ML, you can rapidly increase the scale or the processing time for the downscaling of climate modeling.

Reinforcing Resilience

The applications of

new-age IT and data science applications to geospatial are quite significant.

Spatial finance, which is about complexity modeling and geospatial data science, is critical to build a resilient world.

It is a vital tool for understanding the impact of complex phenomena in complex, inter-connected systems, such as that of biosphere in global geography.

Anticipating the impact of climate risk, physical risk, and other hazards on locations, enables us to adapt better and to make investments that can reinforce their resilience.

Swiss RE says that for every $7 spent on disaster recovery, only $1 is spent on resilience.

But if you can forecast better the impact of climate hazards, then you can spend that $1 or more in a precautionary way that helps places get more insulated from climate risks.

Spatial Finance, which is about complexity modeling and geospatial data science, is critical to build a resilient world. It is a vital tool for understanding the impact of complex phenomena in complex, interconnected systems, such as that of biosphere in global geography.

Climate Consensus

Climate is a singular unifying global issue in many ways. There's some evidence of leading countries such as the US, China, and European Union cooperating more with each other to promote de-carbonization and net zero.

We are into Modeling, understanding the interplay of climate trends, asset values, demographic shifts, insurance premiums, and investment flows.

We guide investors to invest more capital in more resilient locations so that people, businesses, infrastructure can be increasingly located in resilient areas rather that are a very high persistent climate risk in a chronic way.

Tech for Abundance

Technology more broadly plays a key role in climate change mitigation and advancing

sustainability because of abundance.

The abundance thesis is that technology raises productivity and efficiency of resource consumption, generating new resources such as cellular meat, plant-based food etc.

Technology as a tool for generating abundance limits the likelihood of competition among major powers over resources because they hopefully don't have to compete over them.

84 | ANNUAL EDITION / JANUARY-MARCH 2024 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

In an ever-changing world, governments and businesses need real-time accurate intelligence so they can see, understand and anticipate change for decisive action all the way to the tactical edge. BlackSky delivers unparalleled real-time satellite imagery, analytics and high-frequency monitoring of the most strategic locations, economic assets and events around the globe so customers can act not just fast, but first.

Harness the power of a superpower with BlackSky.

To learn more visit blacksky.com and follow us on LinkedIn. Hindsight is 20/20. Foresight is a superpower.

AI ACCELERATING GEOSPATIAL INNOVATION

The global geospatial market is expected to grow from $63 to $148 billion in the next five years. Satellites transformed modern mapping from static approximations into dynamic reflections of our world and the activity within it.

In the early 2010s, the use of distributed networks of small satellites made it more cost effective to capture timely geospatial data at a global scale.

Reshaping Industries

Today, a variety of geospatial platforms (including satellites) capture data at different altitudes, benefiting from low-cost components, commoditized storage/ compute, and decades of GIS product development.

The adoption of cloud, edge computing, new AI capabilities, and increasingly powerful geospatial APIs and SDKs are making the benefits of geospatial intelligence more accessible.

Developers no longer need to be experts in image capture, data processing, or object detection, and instead can focus on building specialized applications tailored to unique customers, similar to the proliferation of GPS brought about by Apple’s App Store.

The ability to collect, process, and analyze endless amounts of geospatial data is creating powerful new applications that are helping to reshape how the largest global industries operate.

A seemingly infinite number of venture-scale businesses are now being built in multi-trillion dollar global industries such as agriculture, insurance, and climate markets.

AI Boom

As a horizontal technology that cuts across everything including next-gen manufacturing and supply chain management, satellite design and operations, deeper and more actionable intelligence, SatCom network management, and more.

While 2023 was a year of experimentation, 2024 will see AI integrated into enterprise workflows as products from AWS, Google, and Microsoft will set the pace for enterprise adoption and revenue generation.

Funding to AI companies remains strong, driving growth in an otherwise tepid market.

Today, NVIDIA’s platform is powering everything from simulation to design and operations to asset management on orbit. Meanwhile, synthetic data has become an essential tool for the advancement of AI and ML.

Given the massive datasets produced by Earth imaging satellites, GEOINT is the largest initial market and leading GEOINT organizations like Maxar, Planet, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency are leveraging this technology for AI training and validation.

The Road Ahead

As much growth as we’ve seen in recent years, AI is not as widely adopted as it will be – not by a long shot. Computer vision

tools are still in the early stages of adoption and we expect to see much more innovation here.

Recent advancements in AI are enhancing the capabilities of companies across the Space Economy. While 2023 was a year of experimentation, 2024 will see AI integrated into enterprise workflows as products from AWS, Google, and Microsoft will set the pace for enterprise adoption and revenue generation.

AI will continue to play a pivotal role, accelerating innovation and enabling companies to unlock the value of geospatial data for a broad set of users.

This trend will benefit not only space applications, but also various other segments of the Space Economy as digitization of our physical world gains momentum.

86 | ANNUAL EDITION / JANUARY-MARCH 2024 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024
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NEW SPACE FOR RESILIENT SUPPLY CHAINS

We are seeing more and more Edge Computing and AI application in the space technology sector,

leading to faster data transfers, tailored insights, and a much more efficient workflow for the customers.

Soon, AI models will witness convergence with geospatial data to provide more insights to customers, probably in a fully packaged products rather than just delivering geospatial data to customers.

New Era

NewSpace is augmenting a more robust and resilient world economy, but we are just scratching the surface. However, there is a particular role of NewSpace in supply chain resilience. Space enables local insights with a global view at the same time, a unique prospect that is only available through satellites in orbit. We are seeing more and more Fortune 500

Space enables local insights with a global view at the same time, a unique prospect that is only available through satellites in orbit. We are seeing more and more Fortune 500 companies using space to maintain and observe their supply chains.

companies using space to maintain and observe their supply chains.

Prime concerns for companies that use space-enabled monitoring generally focuses on price fluctuations through changes in crop yields, and deforestation caused through inefficient logistics or precise inspection of farms to understand discrepancies.

Governments are the most sophisticated users of space data right now. Countries around the world can become the de-facto first customers for NewSpace startups, enabling a comprehensive and innovative geospatial and space ecosystem.

State Contracts

Governments tend to allocate their funding for startups as grants rather than contracts, mistaking the belief that grants are as good as or even better than contracts. This is absolutely not the case.

Contracts translate to solid revenue, which increases a company's valuation and allows them raise venture capital or

other forms of capital. This phenomena happens as contracts and revenue prove demand for your product, which grants tend not to.

Perhaps, more importantly, the act of delivering on a contract is much healthier for any company as it forces them to supply products or services on time tailored to customer specifications. Grants, on the other hand tend to come with many reporting requirements which contracts do not.

Geopolitical Dilemma

There is a worldview that space is becoming the next theatre of war. This is a concern for the global space sector as the domain definitely plays a huge role in defence application worldwide, making countries eager to stay ahead of adversaries.

However, more and more countries see the benefit in terms of capability and coalition building by actively working with allies to improve the applications and use-cases of space. This can be as simple as being willing to procure from allies.

88 | ANNUAL EDITION / JANUARY-MARCH 2024 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

OPEN DATA ACCESS FOR GREATER SOCIAL INCLUSION

Big breakthroughs are coming in data management and processing, making it more accessible. This is also leading to packaging with new kinds of systems to gain actionable insights from development. AI/ML has a major role to play.

World Bank has new mechanisms for geospatial AI. We are trying spatial chatbots to see how we can make these systems easily accessible to everyone, including the poorest around the world.

It's now no longer just about poverty, but also about alleviating poverty and make the planet livable, by dealing with issues of pollution, biodiversity, climate mitigation, adaptation, and a whole range of these global issues.

Data for All National Geospatial Agencies should focus on

making open data systems easily accessible.

The role of the government is to contribute to public data infrastructure in a consistent and interoperable manner, so that the data can be used for making models based on Earth observation data to get better insights, accurate forecast, and development of early warning systems or digital Monitoring Reporting and Evaluation (MRE) systems.

The cloud era has transformed data access as well as analytics. Today, transitioning from data sets to data services has been a new revolution. Earlier, modeling used to be done with the help of computers that only a handful of people could operate, but now with Cloud, we can leverage the power of data through faster cloud analytics.

This is where governments can play a really big role to both encourage entrepreneurial ecosystem.

There’s also a need to focus on inequality and ensure that applications are

Today, GIS entrepreneurs anywhere can dream of starting up a global analytics or insights organization because they have the power of the world's data and analytics at their fingertips.

made for all, because a lot of the services get leveraged by people who can afford it, and a lot of applications get developed for the richer sections of society.

Interactive Visualization

New ways of data visualization, which is mainly interactive data visualization, new kinds of e-packaging, dashboards, interactive charts, maps, graphs, schematic in different ways is the core of the transformation that's starting to happen to help people interact.

A lot of the data visualization has now spilled

over into a lot of the aspects of AR/VR, especially in the metaverse, to visualize data and interact with them in new ways.

Today Digital Twin concepts are applied mainly for really big projects, but there should be a Digital Twin of even a small community-driven development project.

We are trying to see if we can help make this a standard approach to make Digital Twins basically of every investment that we make so that it can be used not only for planning, but also to monitor, share and access information.

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 89 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

GEOSPATIAL INNOVATION ADVANCING RESILIENCE

We live in an era marked by unprecedented challenges and opportunities. Integrating geospatial with emerging tech such as AI, ML, IoT, and Cloud Computing to facilitate decision-making is at the core of our economic and societal resilience.

Integration with Emerging Tech

Geospatial technology has always been a key contributor to the complex challenges of our planet, especially when combined with other technologies. This is not a new trend but rather the logical extension of a continuum born out of necessity.

However, the key to unlocking this potential lies in creating consistency in data acquisition, management, and use.

Our focus on cloud-native data formats and crosssensor analytics-ready data is a testament to this approach: we want to make the experience across diverse data sources seamless. That’s how we will help power new use cases through integrations and data fusion.

Another pillar in the world economy's robustness could be the role of National geospatial agencies.

By making their data more accessible through platforms like ours, they could empower users with diverse datasets, avoiding technical lock-ins and legal complexities. Public mapping agencies could also leverage platforms to more easily manage commercial data acquisition from multiple sources at scale.

Embracing Spatial Tech

When we look at the cloud-led proliferation of geospatial data, decision-makers must align economic necessities with sustainable transitions. The key is not to be swayed by the “next shiny object” in technology but to focus on long-term value creation.

As the adage goes, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” – and geospatial is just one of the many solutions. We need a clear understanding of the problems, assessing the technical and economic feasibilities of different solutions, and evaluating performance against existing solutions.

The process is easier if we provide decision-makers with insights to make informed choices. Often, the solution will require some form of geospatial technology. However, our long-term credibility in the decision-making process also includes being transparent when there is a better alternative.

New Ecosytem Ecosystem

Ecosystems can only thrive if we remove barriers to commercial and technical transactions between players.

With over 175 commercial products from over 80 data and analytics partners available through a comprehensive developer-first platform, UP42 is helping grow the EO ecosystem. We create common access mechanisms across data sources by embracing industry standards such as STAC.

Bridging Divides

Our vision in today’s volatile geopolitical climate is to bridge divides and foster collaborative transformation. Our platform facilitates technical and financial exchanges across the value chain, contributing to a strong global ecosystem.

We inject resilience

Decision-makers must align economic necessities with sustainable transitions. The key is not to be swayed by the next shiny object but focus on long-term creation.

and redundancy into our customers’ operations by providing multiple alternative data sources with a single data ordering and management platform. At the same time, we have to navigate the complexities of KYC, KYS, export control, and sanctions, ensuring compliance and responsible use of dual-use imagery.

Through this balanced approach, we facilitate engagement while respecting the rules of engagement laid out by governments and our data providers.

Whatever the future looks like, at UP42, we are committed to advancing the geospatial ecosystem, imbuing resilience into every layer of our economies and societies.

We want to be that gateway to a world where geospatial technology drives innovation and fosters an inclusive and resilient future.

90 | ANNUAL EDITION / JANUARY-MARCH 2024 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

LOCATION INTEL TRANSFORMING THE WORLD

There’s huge potential to positively reshape industries and enhance daily lives with location intelligence. Simple, precise addressing system is revolutionising everything from navigation, logistics, to emergency response.

We focus on combining digital transformation with efficiency and innovation by offering global addressing system that not only simplifies location sharing but also increases efficiencies for both people and businesses.

With our technology, businesses can better optimise routes, find customers first time and cut out the inefficiencies that create surplus

emissions. Due to its multi-lingual nature, what3words technology is used globally by leading automakers, logistic providers, as well as emergency services.

Grassroots Impact

We extend support to humanitarian efforts like disaster and emergency response to make a tangible impact on how digital innovation can be used for good.

Precise addressing is used by communities all over the world in need of a more precise addressing system - in Haiti, for example, IHS used the app to help specify where water pipes needed to be laid.

In Durban, South Africa, NGO Gateway Health Institute, which

Precise location data has an immense potential to bridge divides. Accurate location information can support humanitarian aid, enhance global trade, and foster cooperation across borders.

provides emergency support vehicles for people living in the townships, trained local young people to help residents discover and use their what3words address. The local emergency services were also trained to quickly find and navigate what3words address they are given over the phone or via SMS.

The Rhino Refugee Camp in Arua, Uganda is embracing what3words to make life easier for the people who live there. Videre Global also uses what3words to efficiently deliver, install, and maintain their solar solutions across Africa.

Interconnected World

Intelligent location technology is a vital tool in

building a more connected, collaborative world, even in the face of adversity.

Precise location data has an immense potential to bridge divides. Accurate location information can support humanitarian aid, enhance global trade, and foster cooperation across borders.

It is not just about improving operational efficiencies but creating a framework that allows businesses to contribute to a more interconnected, dynamic, and resilient global economy.

Precise, real-time location intelligence is fundamental to a resilient global economy. It underpins everything from emergency services to logistics and mobility solutions.

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 91 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

DATA FOR THE AGE OF COMPLEX SYSTEMS

With Large Language Models (LLMs) gaining traction, our ability to see the world, to understand it, and to enact changes, gets even better.

This places a huge responsibility on our shoulders to use all these insights for the greater public good. We use data visualization and mapping to show people what and where things are happening. This enables them to get better informed, participate, and

We must deeply understand the data needs of people making policy and infrastructure decisions, develop solutions and tools to meet those needs, and then work together to use analytics to drive more sustainable infrastructure and policy choices.

take timely actions, which is super important for all the bigger goals, like climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The combination of AI and ML with remote sensing info and ground truth data, allows us to identify what the algorithms predict. To improve those models over time, we need more field data through IoT sensors and field surveys, which is the way of the future.

Merging Data Pipelines

We use data for three things: planning, tracking, and evaluation. We also use it to communicate the problems to local communities through data visualization and mapping.

We ensure our data is presented in a useful and accessible manner. Based on these insights, decision-makers are able to take important decisions and allocate resources.

Traditionally, remote sensing scientists have been solving only a set of problems, which is quite difficult. With bigger datasets, gradually they encounter other problems as well. This is why, there’s a need of greater collaboration across disciplines for merging data pipelines, which can get quite daunting.

The work we do with remote sensing is challenging enough, though it presents new opportunities and horizons. We use data in a whole range of ways, starting from planning. Acting in isolation can lead to disruption, so we try to get a clear picture of what's actually happening in the whole system. We have a System Change Lab that tries to look at how all of systems interact in society and track their progress.

Cooler Urban Infra

WRI, with support from Google.org, is working with cities and urban decision-makers to improve the uptake of cool infrastructure solutions.

Urban greening can have great impacts, in creating cooler space, and improving shade. The complexity for policymakers is that they have space limitations –they can't overnight build a bunch of trees. With the combination of better measurement, we can actually measure the experience of temperature or the reflectivity of services at a very local level.

This is the era of geospatial. There’s a need to understand the data needs of key stakeholders, develop solutions and tools to meet their needs, and use analytics to drive more sustainable infrastructure choices. This, in the nutshell, is the need of the hour.

92 | ANNUAL EDITION / JANUARY-MARCH 2024 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have progressed beyond simple mapping to bring true location intelligence to organizations across every sector and in every market. Within GIS systems, Digital Twins are meant to closely resemble reality. They are used for testing and monitoring, as well as for simulations, to improve the quality of life for all citizens.

Adept organizations are combining mobile and geodemographic data to add an element of human behaviour to Digital Twins that many models lack. How do citizens behave? Who visited that location? Which entrances and exits do citizens use? What time do people use certain facilities? How does human movement change during an emergency like a wildfire or flood? When Digital Twin models are combined with location data and analytics, the opportunities are endless.

Looking for ways to add the when and who to your where?

Ask EA.

environicsanalytics.com/geoworld ENVIRONICS ANALYTICS

EUROPEAN AUTONOMY, INNOVATION PILLARS OF GLOBAL SPACE COOPERATION

94 | ANNUAL EDITION / JANUARY-MARCH 2024
LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

About 8o% of the data used in meteorological models and climate models is based on satellite data, making it very important to understand climate change. This provides an exemplary contribution to the planet, helping us to really chalk out a sustainable plan ahead.

The European Space Agency (ESA) disseminates over 35O terabytes of Sentinel and Earth explorer mission data across the world every single day.

It's the largest volume of Earth Observation (EO) data that is being disseminated for general use. But we need to do much more to promote the use of this data and get users engaged that are outside of the classical space or EO domain.

Users in domains as diverse as agriculture, tourism, transport and the shipping industry are dependent on this data. Yet there's still much more to be done because of the wealth of valuable data that can be converted into services and create new businesses and new opportunities from an economic perspective.

This is one of the reasons why we created the `Accelerators' programme. There are a number of 'accelerators' ranging from space for a green future to rapid and resilient crisis response, which really is meant to be to team up with other organizations whose job

it is to decarbonize the economy where space may make a small contribution, but an important one.

Zero Debris Charter

Our sustainability efforts are not only limited to Earth. Space debris is becoming a bigger issue day by day as satellites stationed in orbit that become defunct pollute space for newer, operational satellites.

We would like to make sure that at the end of its life you bring back the satellite from its orbit and therefore do not pollute space with old satellites that are out of service and defunct.

Those who sign up to the Charter commit to taking the satellite out of its orbit at end of life.

Our job is to develop a mechanism that de-orbits the satellite when it reaches end of life, therefore making sure that it can burn up in the atmosphere and disappear from orbit.

We are talking with industry, national space agencies as well as international partners in an effort to convince them to adhere to the same principles and sign up to the Charter.

Commercializing EO

We have gone a long way in EO to utilize the potential, but we have a much longer way to go. This sector is just picking up from a commercial perspective as we are seeing a few constellations of micro and nanosatellites being established now.

Europe would like to develop greater autonomy and design and build more domestically in order to contribute to a wider international space architecture. International collaboration is extremely important, especially when working in Earth observation.

This promises very good economic growth in the near future. In the last decade, we saw more than io% growth in turnover for these commercial companies, which is going to continue at the same rate or more.

Buying a service from industry and letting industry take initiatives is fundamental because it starts a paradigm shift where we apply a system that allows industry to be much more flexible and innovative faster, while having the freedom to choose what kind of technical solution to develop.

This was successfully implemented through the commercialization programme in the United States, out of which SpaceX was developing on one side, and launching rockets on the other. Europe is moving in a very similar direction.

Collaboration in Space

It is clear that in exploration missions, we will always work with international partners. We have had a good relationship and good cooperation strategies with NASA for decades now.

We have also had very good relations with Japan, India, and many other countries for quite some time. But it's time to rein force these relationships and say that we really are one partner, an important one in a wider international cooperative effort.

Europe would like to develop greater autonomy and design and build more domestically in order to contribute to a wider international space architecture. International collaboration is extremely important, especially when working in Earth observation.

Sharing and establishing joint projects where contribution is the key. To address climate change with satellite data, it can be essential to understand climate patterns and therefore mitigate and adapt accordingly.

This gives an accurate picture of the space sector and technology being an important factor to change the planet for the better.

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 95 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

NEED TO LOOK BEYOND 2030 SDGS AGENDA

The opportunity of emerging technologies is rising significantly, especially with the promise of AI implementation, which can play a vital role in enhancing cost-efficiency as well as the qualitative and quantitative aspects of land administration around the globe.

Kadaster uses AI for multiple purposes. For example, we use text recognition for processing large amounts of incoming data. This way, we are able to quickly and efficiently make data available for society, at the same time limit human errors.

While it’s difficult to predict new possibilities that lie beyond the horizon, we see a role for AI in land measurement, customer interaction, and processing vast amounts of data.

Factual Decision Making

National geospatial agencies are at the forefront of providing communities with the tools to

increase the quality of land management and decision-making. Both the quality and quantity of data analytics is improving, thanks to technological developments and international cooperation.

Fact-based decision making is of utmost importance in building a robust and resilient society. Providing decision makers with the tools and information to make the right decisions is key. Therefore, national geospatial agencies can make a difference in the years to come.

If we look five years down the line, we are looking at the end of the Sustainable Development 2030 agenda. We still have a long way to go, and the international geospatial community has a lot to offer. Now is the time to make our mark, not only for the 2030 agenda, but beyond.

Stakeholder Interactions

Societies are constantly changing. The challenges we face are also changing all the time. But change

Fact-based decision making is of utmost importance in building a robust and resilient society. Providing decision makers with the tools and information to make the right decisions is key.

is not a negative development in itself. It also grants opportunities. Opportunities to connect with others, to learn from each other, and to implement the latest technological developments for the good of all.

Interacting with the people we serve and listening to their needs is critical. This way we form a bridge between high level decision-makers and the people. If the tools we provide reflect the needs of our citizens, we enable decision-makers to make the right calls.

An international geospatial ecosystem can only function if we align our leading technical and semantic principles. This enables us to connect and integrate systems, data, and most importantly people, across the globe.

The United Nations initiative of Global

Geospatial Information Management (GGIM) is crucial for this endeavour. It brings together nations and people across the world, and has accomplished a lot in the last decade.

Shared Values

We need to continue to look for common goals and values. Common goals like sustainable development and climate resilience can unite us.

The value of geospatial information and land registration is that it empowers ordinary people by providing them tools to improve their lives.

At Kadaster, we are fortunate to work with local partners all over the world to improve people’s livelihoods by introducing new land administrations. Exchanging knowledge and empowering people is the way to bridge divides, now and in the future.

96 | ANNUAL EDITION / JANUARY-MARCH 2024 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024

GEOSPATIAL INTEGRATION TO HERALD IMMENSE POSSIBILITIES

The integration of core geospatial with emerging tech such as AI, ML, IoT, and others represent a significant evolution in the field, leading to unprecedented possibilities and opportunities.

In essence, the future of integrating geospatial and emerging technologies holds immense promise for revolutionizing how we understand, interact with,

and navigate the world around us.

As these technologies continue to evolve and intersect, they will undoubtedly shape the way we live, work, and innovate in the years to come. For instance, geospatial data analysis, powered by AI/ ML, is crucial for precise decision-making.

When integrated with IoT, it can be used for for real-time monitoring and emergency response, and enhancing efficiency in transportation and agriculture.

Collaborative geospatial initiatives foster innovation across diverse industries. Moreover, advancements in connectivity and satellite tech is leading to greater accessibility to geospatial data.

Upscaling Investments

To foster a comprehensive and innovative geospatial ecosystem that supports digital transformation, drives economic growth,

Decision-makers can best embrace spatial technology to harmonize economic necessity by integrating spatial data into policy formulation, fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing among stakeholders.

and addresses societal challenges effectively, there is a need to invest in geospatial infrastructure, which includes satellite systems and data repositories as well.

There is also a need to establish common standards for geospatial data formats and exchange.

Developing clear policies and regulatory frameworks for geospatial data use should also be a key priority.

Open data initiatives foster public-private partnerships for collaborative geospatial projects, and help in establishing innovation hubs and incubators,

A Better Tomorrow

Geospatial helps governments, businesses, and organizations drive innovation, and unlock new opportunities for sustainable development and prosperity on a global scale.

Decision-makers can best embrace spatial technology to harmonize economic necessity by integrating spatial data into policy formulation, fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing among stakeholders, prioritizing investments in spatial infrastructure and capacity building.

They can better utilize the technologies to ensure equitable access to spatial

Core Applications

Infrastructure Development

By integrating satellite imagery, GIS mapping, and remote sensing data, governments and businesses can make informed decisions, optimize resource allocation, and ensure the resilience of critical infrastructure systems.

Disaster Preparedness and Response

By leveraging real-time satellite imagery, GIS analysis, and predictive modeling, authorities can identify vulnerable areas, implement preventive measures, and coordinate efficient disaster response efforts, thereby reducing the economic impact and saving lives.

Agricultural Innovation:

By combining satellite imagery, weather data, and machine learning algorithms, farmers can optimize inputs, minimize waste, and increase productivity. This leads to a more resilient agricultural sector capable of feeding a growing global population amidst changing environmental conditions.

Smart Cities and Urban Planning:

Through spatial analytics, satellite-based navigation, and IoT integration, cities improve transportation systems, reduce energy consumption, and enhance citizen services, fostering economic growth and livability.

data and tools for all communities, incorporate spatial considerations into investment decisions, for monitoring and evaluation of policies and projects.

We should promote international collaboration to harmonize standards and address global challenges to raise awareness about the importance of geospatial applications.

JANUARY-MARCH 2024 / ANNUAL EDITION | 97 LEADERS' OUTLOOK 2024
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