The Global Geospatial Industry Outlook - 09/08/2017


The Indian company Geospatial Media and Communications has produced a thought-provoking report on the Global Geospatial Industry and published it online. Ian Masser reviews this report.

This 128 page report is divided into four main sections. These include a short section describing the methodology that was developed for the exercise. This followed by a longer section discussing the main global geospatial industry trends and emerging business processes. The third section of the report presents the findings of the analysis in the form of a geospatial readiness index of fifty nations. The concluding section contains details of the sponsors of the project.

Global Geospatial Industry Trends and Business Models

The authors point out that "geospatial technologies have become all-pervasive, driving major disruptions across industry segments." As a result, the economic value of the sector is more than USD500 billion. They also surveyed more than 500 companies to gauge the landscape of the industry and understand where it is heading.

The main components of the geospatial industry are shown in Figure 1. From this, it can be seen that conventional GIS and spatial analytics accounts for only 17% of the geospatial technology industry as against 37% to earth observation and 33% to GNSS positioning.

Figure 1: The components of modern geospatial industry.
Figure 1: The components of modern geospatial industry.

Geospatial Readiness Index of Countries

This is the section of the report that is likely to attract the most attention. A methodology was developed to calculate the geospatial readiness index for the 50 selected countries is based on four separate policy areas or pillars: geospatial infrastructure and policy framework, institutional capacity, user adoption level, and industrial capacity. Each topic is then broken down into four or five subcategories. For example, the first topic is subdivided into data infrastructure, positioning infrastructure, platforms and portals, open and linked data and standards, and policy framework.

The report is described by its authors as "a first-ever study of the geospatial readiness of any nation" (p.10) even though SDI readiness studies at the global and national levels go back more than ten years (see, for example, the paper entitled Assessing an SDI readiness index. Proceedings GSDI 8, Cairo 2005).

The detailed scores for the sub-pillar scores provide a great deal of detailed food for thought as do those for the aggregate scores (Figure 2). These indicate that the United States holds the top position in the global geospatial readiness index because the country "has it all – an efficient geospatial infrastructure, an enabling policy framework, an excellent institutional capacity, the strongest industry capacity and an in-depth user adoption across all industry verticals" (p.112). It is followed by the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Canada while developing countries such as South Africa are ranked close to the top of the lower half of the table although it "has been progressive in the use of geospatial technology by developing and adopts latest technologies and formulating South Africa’s frameworks and policies to enhance the uptake of spatial information in the country" (p.113).

Figure 2: Geospatial Readiness Index.
Figure 2: Geospatial Readiness Index.

Inevitably, the findings of this analysis raise more questions than answers and this reviewer would have welcomed more discussion of the detailed findings. For example, I was puzzled about how China and Russia achieved relatively high scores while New Zealand featured below India and countries such as Chile were ranked 33. Nevertheless, it should stimulate some interesting discussions about its findings.

Download the report.

This article was published in GIS Professional August 2017

Last updated: 18/08/2019