Using technology to leapfrog traditional approaches

Stephanie Bentley

Prop Tech Product Executive, Data and Information Products Group (RICS)

It is estimated that by 2050, there will be 50 billion people living on the planet and 50 mega cities; movement of people, pollution and resources will become a massive challenge. No company, government or individual can solve these problems alone; geography, mapping and Geographic Information Systems have never been so important.

ICT - information and communication technology

This became even more apparent at this week's GeoBusiness show. Below is a summary of just a couple of the discussions that took place around the importance of technology to solve challenges both new and old, that are facing our industry:

Using technology to revolutionise land administration

"Technology can and should be used to leapfrog traditional approaches."

In the same way that American industrialist Henry Ford leapfrogged traditional approaches, Brent suggested the need for leapfrogging traditional approaches to land administration. Land admin is about managing ownership, recording value and disseminating information about land — it is crucial to society. Good land admin supports poverty elimination, land markets and equitable taxation.

Nearly half of the world’s population is living on less than $2.50 a day and 70% of people do not have documents that represent ownership of the land. Clearly something needs to be done.

Land admin needs to be fast to implement, have low costs, but high accuracy, it needs to be secure, future-proof and scalable and, in order to work properly, solutions need to be community-based. We are already seeing examples of non-traditional, fit-for-purpose land administration approaches in places like Kenya and Columbia, where cadastral maps are being produced with direct involvement and participation of people.

New approaches are not only resolving issues that have been prominent for hundreds of years; they’re also solving new challenges that come with emerging technologies.

The importance of mapping for autonomous vehicles

One such emerging technology is autonomous cars. Vehicles today are becoming increasingly "intelligent". Many cars now have a GPS system embedded within them and provide services on real-time traffic information, car parking, weather, fuel prices and much more. In order for cars to become increasingly autonomous, precise maps are required for services like lane-warning detection, personalised guidance and to detect potential hazards.

"The mapping required for autonomous vehicles is not very different to the mapping required for drone delivery or the 5G roll out."

Accurate, high-quality maps are required across the entire globe and the need for global standards was emphasised once again. However, supporting self-driving vehicles is not just about road geometry, it’s also about buildings, speed limits, post codes etc. Cloud services are needed so that cars can communicate with each other.

What next?

To think that a couple of thousand years ago, the only way to keep time was to use sun dials yet today, we can measure time to the nearest arc second and accurate positional location has been refined. GPS (Global Positioning System) has been developed and modern surveyors can, and are, beginning to take advantage of its benefits. Moreover, the use of the web, cloud-based solutions, distributed data and mobile technology are also becoming more and more prevalent within the industry:

These technologies are possible because of standards & the ability to connect data.

All kinds of technology can be successfully integrated and with it, spatial data can be collected, knowledge extracted and information disseminated with high accuracy. Ready-to-use maps, which share data on observations of the Earth, demographics of different areas, real-time weather updates and much more, have been developed and are available on mobile technologies to be accessed any time.

Yet we are only just beginning to scratch the surface in terms of opportunities available around the use of technology; Brent reminded us that the first iPhone came out just 10 years ago — where will we be in another 10 years? Watch this space...

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