The cloud and the future of geospatial data
Editor’s Note: Rony Ledany is managing director at TerraPixel. This guest post is the second in a series of monthly got geoint? articles authored by members of USGIF’s Innovation Task Force. This one-year task force has been stood up to help the Foundation and overall GEOINT Community develop methods to better accelerate geospatial innovation
Everyone loves music. As a child, I remember my parents going to the record store to purchase LPs, then along came CD players, then Apple revolutionized the music industry by making single songs available for download through iPods. According to the Guardian, Warner Music reported in May that revenue from streaming music services—primarily driven by Spotify—surpassed revenue derived from their downloadable music services for the first time ever.
The way we access geospatial data has similarly evolved. We are in an era where most content providers are transitioning from making data available on hard drives to constantly updated web services. The word “cloud” means many things; but for the most part, you rent your processing and storage and back up your data for ubiquitous access in an environment that has established network, data, and information security protocols/tools in place.
Traditionally, companies offered software licenses based on the level of compute power available on site to support their users. In today’s market, while migrating software packages to the cloud, we find most platforms offer Software as a Service (SaaS) with the option to select the compute power you desire.
Like Spotify, the new model gaining popularity in the geospatial world is Data as a Service (DaaS). Since cloud-based platforms ride on top of unlimited compute power, they are changing the way we sell our products. The challenge of sharing disparate data sets and databases still remains as each software application offers its own unique capabilities. To efficiently share data among many applications you need a common platform based on standards.
Providing open geospatial data interfaces allows data to be easily shared between client applications. Most importantly, it will also allow users to assemble data sets of their interests into a single map for real-time streaming analysis.
Imagine a world where you can build your own single app that combines information from all of your favorite apps such as Google Maps, Zillow, weather, social media, etc. The possibilities are endless! Everything is already here—it just needs to be brought from cloud platforms down to Earth and into our browser map.
It has been proven that the use of open standards is the most efficient way to achieve this goal. Going beyond geospatial client applications, I see a world where everyone (not only us geospatial geeks) can access geospatial information to manage their lives more efficiently. Every piece of data in our lives is related geospatially. It is important that everyone in any profession sees himself or herself as a contributor to this geospatial revolution.
Photo Credit: TerraPixel
Construction of the $1.75 billion National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency campus is scheduled to be completed in early 2026
The multi-year scholarships are sponsored by Greater St. Louis, Inc., the Globe Building, and Westway Services Group, LLC
The Honorable Gilman Louie will receive the Arthur C. Lundahl-Thomas C. Finnie Lifetime Achievement Award at GEOGala on Nov. 30