Directions Magazine Editors Look Back at 2013; Make Predictions for 2014

December 18, 2013

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This article summarizes the predictions that Editor in Chief Joe Francica and Executive Editor Adena Schutzberg made during last year’s prediction podcast (summary article) and issues a report card on their success. The article also lists the predictions for 2013 and serves as a companion to this year's podcast discussion. 

Adena's Predictions for 2013

Prediction #1: Tablets will still not play a big role in mobile GIS. Broader tech and marketplace issues will keep mobile GIS to basically lightweight data collection and viewing.

Verdict: Hit

While there were excited “first GIS for iPad”  announcements in mid-2010, there were no significant apps or discussion of uptake of beyond “lightweight data collection and viewing” in 2013. The big news in tablet GIS in Sept:

KARLSRUHE, Germany, September 26, 2013 - Disy Informationssysteme GmbH will present the world's first GIS 2go at INTERGEO 2013. GIS 2go transfers maps from ArcGIS Desktop to an iPad or Android tablet. With the associated app, users can access their own maps entirely without a network connection while they are on the road. For more information about GIS 2go, visit

Prediction #2: Crowdfunding will come to geospatial in 2013. That is, we’ll go beyond “hobbyist” and smaller funding goals to “real” products.

Verdict: Miss

Crowdfunding has changed in the last year or so. It’s as much about raising funds, as it is a tool for marketing. And, while I did see some fine “hobbyist” and education projects using crowdfunding, I can’t point to any “real” geospatial efforts of note. Is it possible that trend has passed its peak already?

Prediction #3: One of the geospatial professional organizations will shut down or merge with another one. 

Verdict: Miss.

URISA, GITA, MAPPS and ASPRS among others are alive and well and planning for 2014. I even heard that COGO (Coalition of Geospatial Organizations) spoke at a hearing on Capitol Hill this month. What does seem to have shutdown or at least be put in suspended animation? GeoWorld Magazine. 

Adena’s Predictions for 2014

Prediction #1: One of the gazelles of remote sensing will be the darling of the industry by 2014. They will announce deals with three well-known government or private organizations. (Education does not count.)

Planet Labs, Urthcast or Skybox Imaging will get the right mix of cost effective, timely, high quality, well-processed imagery right and be the new hero in the remote sensing space. That will push DigitalGlobe and aerial providers to work even harder in 2014 to keep revenues up. 

Prediction #2: IFTTT will be the new location-based programming solution.

If this, then that (IFTTT) is a toolbox for regular people to build “recipes” that link online actions to specific triggers. For example, “If I post something to my Facebook page, then send a Tweet about it.” The big news at the end of the year is that both a third party and IFTTT itself have both introduced solutions to use location (geofencing!) as a trigger.

By the way, IFTTT (with or without location) is a great first introduction to programming. It’s a lot like Yahoo Pipes, but geared more for today’s social Web services. Educators, please take note!

Prediction #3: Indoor positioning will be compelling enough to be useful. 

It’s time. There are enough venues and enough sensing tools and enough maps to create a compelling case and a return on investment for indoor positioning. And, I want to be clear, I’m including use cases outside of selling goods to consumers.

Here is my assessment technique: Joe or I will know someone, outside this industry, that actually uses it in 2014 without our prompting.

Joe's Predictions for 2013

Prediction #1: In 2013 the prediction was for more bi companies finally get it. That is, to understand the benefits of location technology.  In addition, dashboards were to move out of the office and onto a tablet for “Mobile LI.” And finally, there was to be a convergence of BI/LI companies: BI companies were going to buy some LI companies. Last year, I cited an advertorial in the Wall Street Journal entitled "The Intelligence Mobile Workforce" sponsored by Fidelity Investments. And finally, there would be a move to mobile LI and big data analytics with Oracle and Google lead the way.

Verdict: Hit

  • SAP spatially enabled HANA, their database
  • Oracle, at our LI conference exposed BI applications with Oracle MapViewer.
  • Google continued to introduce more mapping tools for business applications with Google Maps Engine Pro
  • In terms of tables apps, everyone seems to have moved in that direction anyway but we did a few webinars with Galigeo and most of their live demos were on table apps
  • Esri made a significant investment in what they call “Location Analytics”
  • There were acquisitions in this space indicating some consolidation of LI companies, for example
  • TIBCO Software Acquires Maporama Solutions
  • CoreLogic Acquires CDS Business Mapping, LLC - Directions ... 
  • Environics Analytics Acquires Generation5 - Directions Magazine

Prediction #2: In the category of LBS, I said that Apple has to acquire more mapping technology and suggested that TomTom was a likely acquisition. I believed that with acquisitions it had to come closer to competing with Google. Also, I predicted that Indoor location technology goes main-stream and mentioned technology from Aisle411, Aeroscout, and Point Inside. I predicted that you would see apps for routing yourself indoors in malls and that retailers would begin to engage more with clients using big data analytics and finally that Social Mobile Local or SoLoMo would help yield this new information for retailers

Verdict: Hit

So much was happening it was hard to keep up, especially later in the year when many announcements were made.

  • Apple Acquires WiFiSlam and introduced iBeacons which has just exploded onto the scene.In the indoor location sector, Aruba Networks acquired Meridian. Qualcomm introduced Gimbal in what the company says is a “comprehensive context aware, proximity platform for brands to engage their customers' mobile devices with highly relevant communications using a powerful combination of physical location, activity, time and personal interests.”
  • From a GIS company called GISi, an application called GeoMetri was introduced that anonymously tracks customer behavior within a geofence.
  • RetailNext, Inc.  announced the acquisition of Nearbuy Systems, the leading provider of location-based Wi-Fi Analytics solutions for retailers.
  • TruePosition, which offers a cell tower locating solution, acquired the intellectual property of Rosum

Prediction #3: My final predication was that building information modeling or BIM would gain significant traction in being identified as a requirement in RFPs and simply that we would continue to hear how it was being used in all phases of design, construction and maintenance. 

Verdict: Hit

BIM has become almost synonymous with 3D and some in the CAD world would probably rather use BIM than CAD or even BIM than GIS. At both Bentley Systems “BE Inspired” event and Autodesk University there was a constant barrage of working in 3D from the start in what Autodesk calls “design in context. 

Joe's Predictions for 2014

Prediction #1: Privacy and the legal ramifications of impending advances in indoor positioning and UAS will be raised once again. 

These two technologies have once again raised the awareness of location-based services and the implications for an invasion of personal privacy. For indoor positioning, apps will become more passive with less invasive check-ins or the necessity to download an app. We will engage with our mobile device even more to solicit retail services. And the announcement of the Amazon drone while a ways off, just pored white gas on the flames of privacy advocates. Jeff Bezos opened a Pandora's box but also fueled imagination. Bezos has become the new Steve Jobs in terms of tech innovator.

Prediction #2: Visualization and Immersive Dashboards (ID)

What's the really hard part of digesting big data? It's not processing. The technology is there to process big data. It's not data capture. Every time we use a mobile device we're giving data to somebody: Twitter, Facebook, Amazon. Visualization alternatives will arise to help decipher big data. Let me give you an example: Word clouds - word cloud graphics have helped to visually identify important things just as thematic mapping and graduated symbology has done for desktop mapping. So, I predict that we will see better visualization tools beyond word clouds, beyond infographics to a new type of dashboard - more immersive; more use of touch; more interactive in order to be able to play with variables. Drop down boxes were so 1990 and slider bars were so 2000. What's next in visualization and how will location-based technology assume a more dominant role in visualizing big data? Look for companies to help users in an entirely new way. 

Prediction #3: Sensor Nexus - a collision of location-based sensors in the context of IoT that learn how to communicate autonomously. 

We understand that mobile devices already have GPS, a gyroscope, actuators and now iBeacons in iPhones. In location technology, we’ll begin to understand the sensor nexus. How will innovators utilize the multitude of mobile sensors to work autonomously? For example, we’ll we automatically engage a sensor as we become proximal to an activity. For example, as we enter the mall parking lot, will it tell us where the closest open space is relative to our favorite retailer in which we have opted into their loyalty program and will thus be awarded a coupon that expires within 30 minute of entering the store itself.

Example: uses ARM’s Ne10 Library: Extends indoor LBS performance lead for large set of sensor input

And mobile phones are not the only sensor we should think of when we hear that word. With the launch of Skybox’s SkySat-1 and Planet Labs Dove satellites we have entered the era of the small sat for earth observation. But it won’t stop there. I see the next phase of earth observation being the application of hyperspectral image analysis. You want big data, hyperspectral will alter our thinking about change detection. We’ll need high spectral resolution bands to truly determine what earth changes are man-made and which are naturally occurring phenomena.


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