Geospatial Technology Trends 2013: Overview of the "Ripe Issues"

All predictions are wrong, some are useful. Predictions of geospatial technology trends have been the topic of recent discussions by the OGC Board of Directors and the OGC Planning Committee. One of my roles as OGC Chief Engineer is to offer a slate of "ripe issues" as a basis of these discussions. This blog provides an overview of the ripe issues developed in March 2013 and explains how they were developed. Future blogs will discuss each issue individually.  

 The ripe issues of geospatial technology identified in March 2013 are:

These issues were developed by reviewing over 200 recent articles from information technology journals from IEEE, ACM, etc. as well as from geospatial industry magazines and other publications. Geospatial World's recent "Thought Leaders Edition" was particularly useful in identifying issues from a geospatial industry perspective.

"Don’t Feel Bad if you Can’t Predict the Future," in Communications of the ACM, September 2012, anticipates value in technology predictions by reducing risks and missed opportunities. The ACM column cautions that if you are called on to make forecasts, do so with great humility. The ACM article identifies three approaches to making predictions: Revelation of current realities, Modeling and trend extrapolation and Scenarios of what the future might look like.  Based on the ACM article and other sources, each of the ripe issues is organized using a common outline:

  1. Revelation of current realities - overview of the issue 
  2. Business Investments - trends and illustrative actions 
  3. Technology Trends - trends and illustrative advancements 
  4. Possible actions by the OGC

A quote routinely attributed to Yogi Berra, "It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future,"  is a wise caution. There are many many things that can invalidate the assumptions in our predictions (again see the ACM article for a good list).  And the future is becoming less predictable as it becomes more open.  The meaning of open - an official Google Blog defines open systems as having two components: open technology and open information, including open standards.  Open systems harness the intellect of the general population and spur businesses to compete, innovate, and win based on the merits of their products and not just the brilliance of their business tactics.

Open standards are a vital element of open systems.  The Ripe Issues of geospatial technology identify areas where further development of open standards can lead to great benefit.  OGC member expertise and energy collectively will advance open geospatial standards to these new areas.  In addition to focus areas for OGC standards development, the Ripe Issues serves as a basis for discussion with other groups, e.g., UNGGIM Future Trends*. The OGC is an international consortium where members participate in a consensus process to develop publicly available geospatial standards.



*UN-GGIM stands for the United Nations initiative on Global GeospatialInformation Management. The document mentioned is 'Future trends ingeospatial information management' where open standards obviously play a role: Link to document