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#SgGeoWeek Panel: The Future of Geospatial


“What is the future of geospatial?” - that was the question tackled by the panel speakers at the launch of Singapore Geospatial Week+ 2020 and plenary session organised by Singapore Land Authority’s GeoWorks. The panel was moderated by Mr. Ng Siau Yong, Director, Geospatial & Data and Chief Data Officer of Singapore Land Authority, with distinguished speakers from OGC, ITB and Esri.

Emergent trends clusters


Dr. Nadine Alameh, Chief Executive Officer of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), an authority for standards for geospatial information shared that OGC’s mandate is to make geospatial location and information FAIR:
F- findable
A- accessible
I- interoperable
R- reusable

Geospatial cuts across many technology areas: spatial data on the web, AI & machine learning, connected autonomous vehicles, Edge computing, new space exploration, GeoEthics, geospatial data science, urban digital twin, immersive geo: AI XR, open API management, and model interoperability, amongst others.

“The Future of Geospatial is now…this is our moment. There is an unparalleled ability for geospatial to function as an organising principle and as an enabler for contextualising diverse data. Data integration sits at the heart of decision-making, analysis and prediction,” said Dr. Alameh.

Jobs made new


On how jobs can be redefined, Mr. Leslie Wong, Managing Director of Esri South Asia said, “Geospatial knowledge and spatial visualisation allows us to frame situations from a more strategic perspective, ask better questions and make informed decisions. It helps us to see things more holistically. There is also an upgrade effect on jobs. Yes, there will be new jobs however a large part of it will be “jobs made new”. That said, GIS is an assistive technology, it will not replace human expertise.”

Significant drivers for development and potential roadblocks


According to Professor Dr. Hasanuddin Zainal Abidin, Institute of Technology Bandung Chairman, Geospatial Information Agency Indonesia (2016-2020), geospatial data and information is becoming increasingly important and useful to support the development process in various sectors of life in Indonesia. ”Technology aside, the most important consideration for the future of geospatial is developing the next generation of geospatial thinkers. Capacity building is key and crucial in geospatial industry development.” 

The topics of privacy and GeoEthics were discussed by the speakers. Mr. Wong stated that the biggest blocker can be mindsets and that although we deploy a wide array of technology and tools to solve problems, it still takes will for people to come and work together and that when it comes to data interoperability: “Collaborations happen in the speed of trust.”

In addition, Dr. Alameh shared that there may be industry standards however there is a need for urgency to act and hence COVID-19 and disasters may be unexpected circumstances but sometimes good do come out of these situations. She added in her conclusion that we need to be more anticipatory of such incidents in the near future.