Let’s be honest, most of the world neither knows nor cares about GIS. For most of its existence GIS has been a niche technology used by those who ‘get it’. Usually that means GIS trained students who congregate and work in the public sector. This is exactly why large GIS firms continue struggle to widen the use of GIS. And frankly, they will continue to struggle if their customer conversations start with maps, Web GIS and location analytics.
But something may have appeared on the horizon to save the day: IoT.
So has IoT put GIS on the map? …. Let’s explore.
Infrastructure and the Public Sector
I remember speaking to a senior GIS sales guy a few years ago. I suggested GIS is only purchased and used by those who are trained in, and thus have a boss who understands the value of GIS. He disagreed. Education was key he suggested. “We’ve done it before and we will do it again” were his parting words. Brave words indeed, but alas he is today where he was then, struggling to widen the use of the technology.
GIS is a complex technology. Complex to understand, complex to use and tough to sell the business case for its adoption. GIS is the bastion of the ‘home of GIS experts’. Specifically those managing and maintaining infrastructure: oil and gas, utilities, cities, counties, states. These are organizations who own distributed ‘stuff’, employing staff who know that GIS is the best tool to manage that ‘stuff’. See water systems, power supply (electric, gas), roads, pipelines …
We spoke to a staff member at one of the new ‘up-and-comers’ in the geo-space. His company saw supply chain as ‘low hanging fruit’, and a target industry for their geo-platform. Supply chain is:
The sequence of processes involved in the production and distribution of a commodity.
Both production and distribution are inherently geographic. A simple supply chain question might be: How do we get product x from here to there on time? This is a geo-question. But seemingly not an obvious geo-question. Supply chain organizations have been slow to adopt GIS. So is supply chain an obvious low hanging fruit market for geotechnology, as arguably it should be?
Let’s add another here. Real estate. A location, location, location business. GIS still has not truly penetrated that market!
Has IoT put GIS on the map?
Back to the question. No surprise we feel strongly that IoT can put GIS on the map. More than GIS, IoT puts geotechnology on the map. Why? Every organization has assets: products, facilities, people, components which make up an infrastructure (valves, pipes, wells) etc. IoT is a distributed (note that word) network of assets with connected sensor which communicate back-and-forth data. Distributed means these assets have a location.
And there is the tie in to GIS
Think about where and what questions: where is the asset which has failed and what is the problem? A map quickly answers the where question. If we represent that IoT asset on that map with an icon and push to that map icon the current state of the asset from a real-time data sensor feed, that answers the what question.
Increasingly at WebMapSolutions, we lead our GIS client conversations with IoT and our IoT platform. Asking where and what questions quickly help clients link problems they face with geo-based approaches to help solve those problems. Maps and location analytics, naturally enter the conversation later.
Have questions? Contact us on 801.410.2532