Startups: What’s the Next Big Thing?

By Directions Staff

School is back in session.  You’re back to your routine at work.  It’s time to think about what’s next.  After our visits this summer with the StartsUps at the 2016 Esri User Conference, we discovered a few fresh ideas that may solve your geospatial problems.  All of these organizations are members of their much-touted StartUp Program, which provides three years of free cloud services, software, training, mentoring, networking and co-marketing opportunities to new companies, helping jumpstart GIS product development. We asked anyone willing to participate the same questions, "Why You?  Why now?"

On the mapping front, a backpack ambulatory scanning system may revolutionize indoor mapping:

"We enable super fast 3D modeling of indoor spaces...Our acquisition speed is 10x traditional static scanning. Our software pipeline is fully automated and results in a rich set of data products for the end user to consume."- Indoor Reality

While what3words continues to unleash their “simple way to talk about location” with the power of their three-word location codes across the globe.  The Mongolian post is now using their system to deliver to their whole country, “allowing everyone to talk about everywhere easier than any other system.” 

Vricon is "building The Globe in 3D at 0.5m resolution with absolute accuracy of 3m SE90. This will provide an accurate global 3D foundation created from Satellite imagery and available as a web service." Who is interested in such highly precise 3D mapping? Military, intelligence and government agencies certainly, but the business applications are truly endless!

A next-gen web-mapping company busy answering a question often asked by GIS pros: how do I know if this map is actually any good?

"... We all think we make great maps, but we don't actually know. We built Maptiks because at Sparkgeo we build a lot of web maps but we weren't able to determine how good they were. As Sparkgeo spans both the GIS and web communities we've seen that user analytics are the baseline of any web-oriented design process. So in reality capturing user activities made great sense. We built Maptiks for ourselves. In the last 12 months we have beefed it out for scale and broader community adoption by adding more map platforms and easing the on-boarding process. We have designed Maptiks to be an easily accessible analytics platform for map makers, product owners and marketers to build better maps.

So, the question begs: what makes a good map? Well, only data will start to answer that question. A map isn't built for some reigning monarch anymore; a map's quality or performance isn't defined by a single opinion. It's the crowd that matters. Maptiks is a way for map developers, product owners and marketing people to know more about how their maps perform in the wild."- Sparkgeo, makers of Maptiks

In the world of utilities, public works and public safety, fleet management technology continued to be a focal point, with personnel tracking technology growing — not just for improved efficiency, but also for worker safety.

"We connect and deploy fleet-wide on an easily modified smartphone platform. For the Wyoming DOT, NeoTreks' Plow Ops saved almost 1 year's worth of reporting time. " - NeoTreks

  "AntrisPro is the only fully-automated personnel monitoring, data analysis reporting and automated lone worker safety response app fully integrated with Esri ArcGIS." - Antris

"We provide the who and when to go with Esri's where for mobile people-verification and attendance and asset tracking." - Mobile Security Solutions, makers of the mobss Mobile RFID Card Reader

StreetScan aims to maximize street repair budgets through their web-app, PAVEMON.

"By leveraging modern sensing and big data technologies we make Infrastructure Health Monitoring more affordable and efficient for wide-spread use, allowing clients to make informed decisions, maximizing the impact of their maintenance and repair funding. Using a multi-sensor platform, we take the subjectivity out of pavement inspection, and in weeks rather than months we provide a network-wide map of roadway condition along with decision making tools to maximize the road repair dollars through a user-friendly powerful web-app." -  StreetScan

While UtiliSync is urging utility companies to move into the 21st century.

"It is time for field crews in the utility and government industries to ditch their paper forms and clipboards and pick up a tablet and be more efficient!...UtiliSync is a GIS-based forms and document management platform. Forms can be submitted to the required agency directly from the field app. Calendar reminders are automatically sent out if follow-up is required. A PDF version of every form is safely archived for access during compliance audits.

Salt Lake County was using paper forms to track their storm water inspections, until they received a $280,000 fine from the EPA and State of Utah. Now they are using UtiliSync to track their inspections." -

Companies helping to manage crises are part of this landscape as well.

" ... the United Nations reports that every dollar spent on preparedness saves seven in response and recovery. As such, understanding potential impacts of business disruptions resulting from a disaster in terms of economic losses is a key gap area..."- SPIN Global

Spin Global's ArcEconomics provides "real-time calculation of local/regional/national economic impacts related to business disruptions lasting a day, a week or a month, etc.," with economic modeling achieved in partnership with REMI, a premier macroeconomics firm.

"We provide accurate, site-specific global hazard data for tropical cyclones in real-time in a way that no local forecasting agency does for emergency managers, planning, logistics and risk managers."- Kinetic Analysis Corporation

" [Echosec] is a new type of search engine that will change the way you see the world...Echosec is being used to help endangered wildlife, help first responders and help save lives... We map over 85 million public social posts per day. " - Echosec

These products are game-changing, even lifesaving! And that's the point of Esri's program: to spur transformative innovation — innovation which builds on and extends the Esri platform across all limitations, industries and borders to a global community of developers, the Next Gen of our professions, each on a mission to solve their own unique business problems in a way that solves problems for all of us.

Esri has made it clear that they want to mentor young companies to integrate mapping technology. They also admit that they benefit from the program as much as the entrepreneurs that they are helping. Lars Schmitz, the Esri Startup Program head for Esri Germany, called the arrangement a "win-win-win": one for the entrepreneur, one for Esri and one for the consumer.

Consumers will benefit, indeed, from the multitude of innovations showcased at EsriUC 2016 concerned with the way companies get to know and communicate with their customers.

"Calling a business is frustrating for a customer. It's also costly to your operations. UtiliSocial empowers brand managers and public relations professionals to interact with your digital customers.... [It is] the first comprehensive social engagement platform for the utilities industry. Providing event maps, cross platform digital communications, real-time aggregate event reports, customer sentiment feedback, weather event data, situational awareness, and logistics support for utilities." - Data Capable

"The changing landscape of healthcare demands data-driven insights from data currently not available in one place. Carevoyance joins all available public and even private data to create a healthcare provider profile, which we can then use to answer a variety of questions about the provider, their practice, their patients, history, etc.... Carevoyance distills billions of data points about every single provider in the United States into actionable insights for the life sciences industry." - Carevoyance

"The ever-growing list of communication channels (phone, email, SMS, social, IoT), coupled with the boom of IoT devices, makes communication exponentially complex. Stakes are high: Use the wrong channel and your message is ignored. Stop listening and your organization will miss on key intelligence...SmartNotify brings Artificial Intelligence to Communications. By leveraging the contextual intelligence and GIS knowledge embedded in SmartNotify’s patent-pending technology, organizations in many industries — from SmartCities, to retail, utilities and sports —can now better focus on being proactive rather than reactive to events." - SmartNotify

Employees, meanwhile, will reap the benefits of transformative new ways to collaborate.

"Bluescape is a visual collaboration workspace, making it easy for individuals and teams to create, interact and share content on different devices including multi-touch displays, browser, and mobile devices. [It] is cloud-based and hardware-agnostic, making it the most flexible and compelling solution for team collaboration." - Bluescape

"In many industries, the analysis and understanding of geospatial data has become a critical step to support strategic planning, communication and decision-making on projects that range from hundreds of thousands of dollars to hundreds of millions of dollars in value. However, the very sophisticated analytics tools used are generally individual person-based and don’t lend themselves to group engagement, even though strategic planning and decision-making are group activities. We create engagement spaces that allow one to many people to simultaneously engage with each other's data in context and as a result create a rich, vibrant decision support environment." - VizworX Inc.

Companies will see the ways that they gather and analyze data continue to improve, gaining insight into all aspects of operations and sales, from methods as varied as drone flights and social media mining.

" Simple by design and easy to use, DroneDeploy enables professional-grade imagery and analysis, 3D modeling and more from any drone on any device. DroneDeploy users, from hobbyists to leading global enterprises, have already mapped and analyzed more than 5 million acres, across 130 countries.  DroneDeploy’s fully integrated mobile apps deliver a more seamless and engaging drone mapping experience. They automate flight and image capture for DJI’s best drones... Operators of non-DJI drones can use the DroneDeploy Map Engine to process geo-tagged images from any drone manufacturer and leverage the redesigned app to view their drone maps and 3D models in the field....By creating an integrated app which includes both drone flight and data analysis, DroneDeploy helps users better extract insights while in the field, giving them a competitive advantage." - DroneDeploy

"Social media is one of the most robust data sets in the world, but filtering through the vast amount information to find the insights relevant to your specific organization or locations is nearly impossible without the right tools. Snaptrends gives you the ability to filter by keywords, locations or both in order to discover, analyze and share geosocial insights...Snaptrends not only provides real-time and historical social media information and analysis, but it also integrates seamlessly with Esri Maps, adding the vital layer of social media data to existing geospatial information....Monitoring public social media activity is one of the most cost-effective, efficient ways to understand what's happening in and around the locations you care about." - Snaptrends

Could it be that the Next Big Thing was really an old thing, reborn? It just might be, thanks to Black Rabbit Labs.

" Radio is seen as a bygone technology. There is too much reliance on the internet, and where many of our clients operate, there is no internet...What happens when there is no internet connectivity?  Modern radios are digital, but our solutions work also with older analog systems.

Radio isn't just voice anymore — situational awareness, remote control of field radios from elsewhere, tracking and data transmission can occur anywhere, anytime without the reliance of an ISP or the internet. If you do have internet on any node of the network, the ability to push data from any computer to a mobile unit only connected via a radio system or vice versa, makes radio integration into a situational awareness application or remote user location a no brainer."- Black Rabbit Labs

Whether one of the StartUps will help solve your geospatial problem or you’re wanting to join their ranks and create the Next Big Thing, Esri’s program is replete with resources to get you started.  We look forward to watching the geospatial landscape bloom with new solutions.

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