You’ve heard it many times before I am sure: “Everything happens somewhere”. That is everything happens at a location or locations. Geographers are focused on location. And it was geographers who, back in the late 1960’s, helped spawn a technology sector now valued at around $9 billion. The geospatial sector.
Today that sector is exploding. Many of tomorrow’s billion dollar companies are actively innovating. The investment community have turned their attention to the geospatial sector.
Geospatial means world and place. It is centred on data associated with a particular location. Some have described geospatial as digital geography. Many of us in the industry have gone one step further, describing geospatial as foundational.
What we do, how we organize, how we interact with and understand our world is rooted in geospatial. The potential uses of location data is almost endless:
- New tools for epidemiologists to track and fight the COVID-19 pandemic and other health crises.
- Utilities provided with insight so they can take measures to protect assets before weather events hit.
- Sustainable energy companies improving both planning and operations using real and near-real time data about both people and assets.
- Global warming understanding, risk assessment and mitigation.
- Crop commodity traders getting actionable information before their competition.
- Retailers being able to track, understand and react quickly to changes in consumer behavior.
The geospatial industry has been revolutionized by three notable technology advances.
1) New Sensor Technology – These have helped automate the collection of data. This includes Imagery/LiDAR/SAR (satellite, aerial, drone), intelligent sensors (IoT, IIoT, mobile phones).
2) New Analytical Methods – Included here is Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Deep Learning (DL), GIS location intelligence.
3) New Systems of Engagement – How we ask questions and get answers. This includes maps, dashboard, voice, text, machine-machine.
The geospatial industry is pulling these technology advances together to help solve business problems. Geospatial is at an inflexion point. We have called this new, expansive phase Geospatial 2.0, defined as:
The promise of Geospatial 2.0 is to improve the speed and accuracy of decision-making. We live in a dynamic, rapidly changing world. These changes all happen somewhere. Geospatial 2.0 leverages new sources of location-based data and methods to analyze that data, moving organizations from reactive to proactive.
Incredible investment opportunities exist within the industry. Two groups within the investment community include:
1. Private equity (PE), which is composed of funds and investors that directly invest in private companies, or that engage in buyouts of public companies. PE funds often focus on sectors and verticals. Infrastructure and sustainable energy are two examples.
2. Venture capital (VC) is a form of private equity and a type of financing that investors provide to startup companies and small businesses that are believed to have long-term growth potential.
Geospatial is at the centre of organizations’ drive to digital transformation. Recent world events (pandemics, hazards, natural disasters etc) have driven organization urgency to leverage new technology advances. That is driving incredible innovation much of that within the geospatial space. That presents an amazing array of potential investment opportunities.