There's a new document from the UN titled Future trends in geospatial information management: the five to ten year vision (4 Mb pdf).
The document was published by Ordnance Survey at the request of the Secretariat for the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management. The lead authors are John Carpenter and Jevon Snell, Ordnance Survey It was commissioned in October 2011 and just came out in a first edition this month.
The use of geospatial information is increasingrapidly. There is a growing recognition amongstboth governments and the private sector thatan understanding of location and place is a vitalcomponent of effective decision‑making. Citizens withno recognised expertise in geospatial information, andwho are unlikely to even be familiar with the term, arealso increasingly using and interacting with geospatialinformation; indeed in some cases they are contributingto its collection – often in an involuntary way.A number of important technology‑driven trendsare likely to have a major impact in the comingyears, creating previously-unimaginable amounts oflocation‑referenced information and questioning ourvery understanding of what constitutes geospatialinformation. These developments offer significantopportunities but also present challenges, both in termsof policy and in terms of law. Meeting these challengesand ensuring that the potential benefits can be realisedby all countries will be important in ensuring that the fullvalue of geospatial information can be maximised in thecoming five to ten years.It is recognised that different countries are atvery different stages in terms of the development,sophistication and use of their geospatial informationinfrastructures. There is a risk, inevitably, that not allcountries will be in a position to invest in and realise thefull potential of geospatial information for governments,businesses and citizens. International institutions suchas the United Nations have an increasingly importantrole in helping to minimise this risk, communicating thevalue and importance of investing in and developingan authoritative and maintained geospatial informationbase and reducing the prospect of any ‘digital divide’emerging.Ensuring that the full value of geospatial informationis realised in the coming years will also rely on havingthe necessary training mechanisms in place. Newand changing skills will be required to manage theincreasing amount of geospatial information that is likelyto be created and to ensure that the maximum value issecured from it.The number of actors involved in generating, managingand providing geospatial information has increasedsignificantly in the last ten years, and this proliferationwill continue and indeed is likely to accelerate in thecoming five to ten years. The private sector and thepublic will continue to play a significant role in providingthe technologies and information required to maximisethe opportunities available. They are likely to providevaluable, and in many cases unique, elements ofgeospatial information and the technologies andservices required to maximise it, in addition to offeringa growing understanding of the end‑user base forgeospatial information.Governments will continue to have a key role in theprovision of geospatial information and be substantialusers of geospatial data; however, governments’role in geospatial information management may wellchange in the coming five to ten years. Neverthelessit will continue to be vital. Building bridges betweenorganisations, collaborating with other areas ofthe geospatial information community and, mostimportantly, providing complete geospatial frameworkswith trusted, authoritative and maintained geospatialinformation, will be crucial to ensuring that users haveaccess to reliable and trusted geospatial informationand have confidence when using it. This information isvital to inform decision‑making, from long‑term planningto emergency response, and to ensure that the potentialbenefits of a fully spatially‑enabled society are realised.As with all technology‑driven sectors, the future isdifficult to predict. However, this paper takes the viewsof a recognised group of experts from a wide rangeof fields related to the geospatial world, together withvaluable contributions from the national mapping andcadastral authorities (NMCAs) and attempts to offersome vision of how this is likely to develop over the nextfive to ten years.Based on the contributions received, trends havebeen broken down into broad themes coveringmajor aspects of the geospatial world. They are asfollows: trends in technology and the future directionof data creation, maintenance and management;legal and policy developments; skills requirementsand training mechanisms; the role of the privateand non‑governmental sectors; and the future roleof governments in geospatial data provision andmanagement.