Insurance companies, telcos, retailers and others are "embracing geospatial technology" to turn data into actionable information, according to Pitney Bowes ANZ managing director Nigel Lester, because they need to bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds. Examples include deciding where to target particular services, or where to open a new store.
The technology is also important for the public sector – 70% of local governments use Pitney Bowes to support decisions about putting services such as childcare in the most appropriate places.
If those can be considered macro decisions, Pitney Bowes' technology is also used at a micro level in various sectors. Location-based services can be used to deliver marketing messages to people in particular places — whether that's in terms of being physically present in a certain shopping centre or having an address within a particular area — or for operational purposes, such as directing a pizza order to the most appropriate store.
Other examples of "operational geospatial" include maintaining accurate address/location data (eg, for emergency services use), and the recording of location at the point that data is collected.
Geospatial information can be used in business intelligence, analytics or big data projects as a way of connecting different data sets or to make better sense of internal data, Lester told iTWire.
So data such as demographics, accessibility, consumer spending and the presence of competitors could be used by a big retailer explain why one store is performing very well while another apparently similar branch is having a harder time. It's about understanding how to best apply your resources, he said.
Pitney Bowes' Spectrum geospatial platform connects to databases, Hadoop and other software, Lester said. "There's a myriad ways to consume the data."
Interest in geospatial data and systems is exploding, he said, due at least in part to the widespread use of map software on smartphones. That said, the company focuses on the government or commercial sectors where it is important to know, for example, exactly where a property is, or where a building is located on a property.
Pitney Bowes achieves the required level of accuracy by assembling data from authoritative sources such as the Public Sector Mapping Agency and enhancing it with data collected by the company. Pitney Bowes actively monitors areas undergoing development and physically collects the data it needs to provide an accurate service, and also looks for areas such as private estates that aren't covered by government agencies.