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Tuesday, 20 October 2009 12:55

Geospatial expert predicts 'œepic explosion' in location related services

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Around 400 developers and entrepreneurs focussed on the next wave of geospatial enabled applications are converging on Sydney this week for FOSS4G – the Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial conference.

While Google Maps and TomTom have nudged along consumer demand for location focussed services, the next generation of geospatial enabled systems is likely to focus increasingly on enterprise scale applications.

According to Andrew Ross, director, engineering for database specialist Ingres, who has travelled from Canada to present at the conference, the emergence of a strong open source community underpinning spatial systems development is important as it “Allows collaborative design, so the costs and risks can be shared with the ecosystem.”

Ingres’ relational technology was made open source in 2004. Ross has been a part of Ingres’ open source geospatial project and said that Release 10.1 of Ingres’ open source geospatial code would be available in the second quarter of 2010.

Ross believes that the time is now ripe for “an epic explosion of GIS devices. To some degree this is happening as everyone’s mobile phone has a GPS chip in it even if they are not using it.

“Similar concepts to Moore’s Law are now affecting storage and you have high speed internet and memory, so the cost of building a system that understands location makes what was impossible feasible and practical,” Ross told iTWire.

He said that there were two prongs of demand – first for mobile applications which were fertile ground for geospatial enabled applications,  “However the other aspect is the convergence of location awareness into enterprise IT.”

Where such systems had once been the province of only specialised niche applications Ross predicted they would quickly percolate through to the mainstream. “Now we will see them for supply chain management – people want to see where their parts are when they are shipped.”

He acknowledged that geospatial enabled enterprise class applications seemed to be moving more slowly than consumer applications. However “Organisations such as UPS, DHL or FedEx, or defence which have a need and deep pockets,” were starting to pioneer the use of more geospatial enabled systems. He also believed emergency services would be enthusiastic adopters of the technology. 

But for the moment at least “We are not seeing the local pizzeria using this technology, nor is it quite as prevalent in health care where it could be used for tracking viruses.”

Nevertheless he saw real value for enterprises which did start to integrate geospatial capability in their enterprise applications, particularly for supply chain management where it could reduce friction and also reduce organisations’ carbon footprints by making them more efficient, which would also lead to cost savings.


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