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Geospatial insights for all – from unique applications to future trends

By Nicolas Lenz, Litix, Stefan Keller, OST, and Reik Leiterer, ExoLabs

The Expert Group Spatial Data Analytics used the 2022 General Assembly of the Data Innovation Alliance in Zurich to organise an expert meet up beforehand – and 18 experts from research and industry took the opportunity and participated in the event. The aim of this event was, on the one hand, to identify topics of particular interest for the spatial data community, which will then be taken up at special events in 2023. On the other hand, current trends in the field of geodata and applications/solutions related to geodata were presented and discussed. The meeting was concluded with the presentation of exciting data sets and tools that are of great importance in the current work of the participants.

In the area of trends, possible thematic clusters of particular interest were outlined, developments in methodological approaches were presented and new approaches to solutions and applications were discussed.

(© Zhu Difeng – AdobeStock)

In the context of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Disaster Mitigation and Response theme complex stands out – themes, that are also of central importance in Switzerland and where geodata and their use/analysis are key to protecting the environment, infrastructure, and the population. This is linked to the wide field of Location Intelligence, e.g., visualizing (You all know heat maps, don’t you?) and analysing volumes of spatial data (often linked with non-spatial data), to enable holistic planning, insights for problem-solving, and advanced spatio-temporal forecasting.

Regarding data acquisition and evaluation, many new sensors, algorithms, and software packages are currently being developed in the field of 3D representation. This applies not only to the functionalities in existing solutions (e.g., 3D-GIS), but also to the linking of spatially explicit information with, e.g., the classic 3D model approaches in infrastructure planning (BIM) – with which we have gained another concept in the spatial universe: GeoBIM.

A lot of data means new possible approaches – and more and more use is being made of Machine Learning (ML) methods. But ML has very specific requirements for the data to unfold its full potential. One way to meet these requirements is to generate so-called Synthetic Data. This can not only help with an insufficient data basis, but also anonymise data in such a way that an exchange beyond the boundaries of one’s own organisational unit is possible even when working with sensitive information.

Also very exciting are the developments around SaaS applications and No-Code platforms, which will certainly lead to a strong increase in the use of spatial data. With the Metaverse, an additional field of development has opened in the last few months, which enables the spatialisation and visualization of our online activities. Hype, bubble, or opportunity – we will see.

New ideas, research projects and exciting applications were discussed in the subsequent exchange session: from the data pooling of freely available data (by Nicolas Lenz – Litix) and the integration of cloud computing services into locally running applications (by Dominique Weber – WSL), via interactive platforms for the joint work on requirements relating to the development/planning of spatial systems (Luis Gisler – cividi), to the power of customized machine learning tools in applied research (by László István Etesi – FHNW/ATELERIS). At this point, thanks to the presenters for the exciting insight!

You missed the Expert Day? – Don’t worry, there will be another one next year, along with several other exciting events on the topic of Spatial Data Analytics. Simply visit the website – and join the meet-ups where you can exchange ideas and initiate new collaborations with experts from research and industry. We are looking forward to you!