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Top 5 Sectors Impacted by Geospatial Services

September 28, 2018
geospatial services
By: Jason Holte

According to Google, geospatial services contribute about 75% to the global GDP. Are there any sectors that are benefiting from location intelligence more than others?

Anybody who has ever opened Google Maps to see the fastest route to their workplace has used location intelligence. But as ubiquitous as location-based mobile apps have become at a consumer level, the economic benefits are far greater than just the revenues generated by the organizations that provide these location-based services.

location technology geospatial services

In a 2012 research paper, the Boston Consulting Group established that while the geospatial services industry in the United States was worth $75 billion at the time, its multiplier effect on the US economy came to the tune of $1.6 trillion in revenues and $1.4 trillion in cost savings. More recently, a study commissioned by Google concluded that location intelligence improves revenues and costs by at least 5% in various sectors, contributing about 75% to the global GDP.

With such compelling numbers, you are bound to wonder: Which sectors are benefiting the most from location intelligence? We will be discussing the top 5 here:

Commercial Real Estate

Location intelligence empowers commercial brokers to analyze new opportunities more efficiently, placing both site characteristics and customer analytics at their disposal and providing enhanced engagement capabilities. Retail brokers and in-house corporate real estate teams can use spatial analysis to answer their most pressing questions about a property, such as the proximity to various means of public transportation, points of interest, or the distance from a competitor’s location. These insights can significantly decrease the time spent visiting prospective sites to determine if they are viable.

Let’s take the example of Fort Bend County in Texas. Using location intelligence, this county digitized aerial photographs of its territories and utilized location intelligence to add more than 100 layers of information to them, including roads, topography, mobility plans, municipal utility districts, demographics, and more. This exercise not only allowed site consultants, brokers, and developers to easily recognize potentially viable locations, it also led to a substantial increase in tax valuations of undervalued sites.

Apart from enabling better commercial planning decisions, geospatial services can also be used to make buildings more energy-efficient. The University of Calgary, for example, uses a GIS-based thermal spectrum to detect heat loss in its buildings.

Ground Transportation

When you talk about ground transportation and location intelligence, the most obvious use case that comes to mind is that of logistics optimization. But the applications of this technology are not limited to real-time route planning alone. For example, businesses are leveraging drones to identify bottlenecks and material shortages at construction sites. Additionally, fast-moving consumer goods giant Nestlé has implemented a wireless vehicle management system to improve the efficiency of its 2,000-strong truck fleet.

Another emerging area for this sector – one where location intelligence is playing a huge role – is that of logistics companies sharing their transport capabilities. The World Economic Forum, in fact, is convinced that platforms built on shared transportation have the potential to earn $20 billion in operating profits alone.

Consumer and Retail

There are numerous geospatial benefits available to this sector. While we all know how heavily businesses like Amazon depend on navigation apps to deliver and pick up products, the Google study mentioned earlier says that over $1 trillion of yearly sales worldwide can be linked directly to location intelligence and digital maps.

In terms of geography, according to the Google-commissioned study, the biggest beneficiaries are the developing nations of the Asia Pacific region, where the total value of annual purchases using digital maps comes to $600 billion. This is not to say that other regions are not experiencing similar growth, however. North America and Latin America see benefits to the tune of $200 billion and $100 billion, respectively.

In other use cases, retailers are using digital maps to identify new store locations as well as improve the performance of existing stores by leveraging neighborhood demographic information. See our internal analysis of the site selection model of Amazon and Whole Foods for more on this application.

Utilities

From facilitating the planning of new infrastructure to gauging the environmental impacts of the new constructions, location intelligence helps utility companies streamline and manage their networks more efficiently. For example, in May 2013, Austin Water Utility saved $400,000 in labor costs by giving on-field geospatial access to its inspection team and allowing instantaneous update of water violators’ data.

In another application, local governments have been able to make urgent gas main replacements based on the data provided by Google’s Air View program, which utilizes sensors installed in Street View cars to detect methane leaks in municipal pipes.

Government Services

Geospatial services help government agencies in a multitude of ways. Federal, state and local governments alike use location intelligence to provide faster emergency response, massive improvements in public transit facilities, and more efficient deployment of public works resources. For example, to prevent another Zika-like virus outbreak, Miami-Dade County in Florida has turned to a number of location-powered applications for both the public and its officials. The maps being used by Miami-Dade not only identify critical areas like mosquito trap locations, but they are also fused with several data sources to make sure scheduled insecticide spraying at a site does not clash with a large-scale public event.

The Arizona Department of Health Services deploys a number of applications that utilize location intelligence, including an Environmental Public Health Tracking tool, an interactive map which tells parents if their child needs a blood lead test based on neighborhood risk factors, and a map of active wildfires and critical healthcare services. Cities can also use location intelligence to analyze crime patterns in different localities and use that data to formulate apposite policies.

As you can see, it’s safe to say that location intelligence plays a strategic role in enhancing the productivity of various industry sectors. Apart from direct production efficiency, these gains are most visible across areas like customer engagement, customer analytics, logistics, and commercial location planning. To what extent a business is leveraging these gains, however, depends from organization to organization. So, what about yours?

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