Outlook January 2018 cover

You Do What?

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series outlook 2018

Outlook 2018 Editorial

When you tell non-geo people what you do for a living, many of them probably respond with, “You do what?”

It’s not an affront, and it’s perfectly understandable. Our geospatial work is often perceived as obscure and esoteric. Let’s face it: the geospatial world has evolved rapidly in the past century, even in the past decade, to the point where even our colleagues may wonder what exactly it is that we do. The lines have blurred between disciplines, and new roles and responsibilities are created faster than new job titles can be generated.

xyHt‘s 2018 Outlook issue will certainly reinforce that perception. You have only to look at this year’s “40 under 40” (profiles of outstanding young geospatial professionals) to see examples of people who are forging new roles and career paths— many that didn’t even exist a few short years ago.

There is the young surveyor who created a niche in precision layout for entertainment festivals. An entrepreneur in South Africa who started not only multiple successful businesses, but also several geospatially focused non-profit initiatives to inspire and educate youth. There is the engineer who is applying BIM principles to a highway project that spans the island of Borneo, a scientist specializing in AI and robotics at Autodesk, and a GNSS engineer adding the crucial geospatial component to autonomous vehicle research.

So many exemplary young geo-people do not fit into traditional boxes.

Others profiled here are redefining—as founders, owners, and operators—how small surveying and geomatics firms operate and are expanding the menu of services they provide. We’ve included in this issue an expanded profile of one of those owner/operators based in the UK.

Our annual vision essays from industry leaders each highlight rapid change in the industry—not just in technology, but also in new approaches and business models. And our feature article is on CaaS, content as a service. While such services have been successful for more than a decade, mainly in the form of web portals for off-the-shelf aerial and satellite images, we have observed a pronounced spike this past year.

New CaaS have come online, and their use by the geospatial community has risen sharply, despite there being more competition. Market acceptance has risen as well as the development of new uses for this data. We are also seeing the first expansions of content types and formats beyond aerial imagery, soon to include lidar data (as point clouds and/or elevation models).

When I look at the content and profiles in this issue, plus content from the 2017 issues of xyHt (and what’s planned for 2018), I can’t help but think that our geospatial world is closing in on the realm of science fiction. It will take not only education and technological wizardry, but also a lot of imagination to move forward, to affect positive change— and to have fun while doing it.

As author Sarah Ban Breathnach said,

“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.”

Outlook January 2018 cover

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