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Look to the future now

By [email protected] - 1st November 2019 - 10:02

Tempus fugit, time flies – no matter how you say it, it’s still a truism. And despite the fact it almost seems like 2010 was yesterday, somehow, we’re about to enter the 2020s.

Nevertheless, the decade has brought many changes, in politics, the environment, business, trade and culture. Technology is almost unrecognisable – ten years ago, Apple had only just brought the iPhone to market, bringing about the smartphone revolution and giving every citizen who can afford it the chance to have a camera, the Internet, GPS and mapping technology with them wherever they are in the world.

Can we predict what the future will bring? No one really saw the phone being the medium that would finally make digital mapping ubiquitous, not even in science-fiction.

But as we enter a new decade, we can at least make an educated guess about what, in the short-term at least, is going to change and be important within the geospatial technology industry.

In this issue, we asked our contributors to do just that. The OGC, which we’re pleased to welcome back as a regular columnist in GeoConnexion International, keeps its eye on technology trends and on page 24, CTO George Percivall shows us its mind-map of what innovations the organisation thinks are going to take off.

Alistair Maclenan has a hunch about what he thinks is going to be big soon – constellations of radar satellites. He explains why in On Location on page 20.

On page 28, we interview the MD of SenseFly Jean-Thomas Celette. As well as looking back at the trends of 2019, he predicts consolidation and growth, as well as greater integration, as being the cornerstones of the future UAV industry.

UAVs, which were on nobody’s radar in 2010, are ubiquitous in surveying now. But with so many in the air, how can we prevent accidents? Ellen Malfliet looks at what forthcoming technology can do for e-identification, on page 30.

In the marine world, new technologies can make ports ‘smarter’. On page 32, Katie Eades and John Pepper look ahead to the smart port and how geospatial companies are bringing it to pass. Meanwhile, on page 35, Richard Mills reports on the cousin of the UAV, the USV, which is already making surveying waves. Could there come a time soon when fleets of them survey seabeds?

Meanwhile on page 38, Peter Berger sees clouds on the horizon for Europe in forthcoming years. Infrastructure is crumbling but we’re not even sure how bad it is, as no one is watching it. He calls for rapid investment in monitoring technology to prevent future disasters.

Next year, FIG’s Working Week is being held in The Netherlands, so it’s appropriate that on page 22, the federation looks back at 100 years of change in the country.

Let’s see what 2020 brings us.

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