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5 Geospatial Trends in 2024

Geospatial professionals are driving the connection of physical and digital workflows like never before, an evolution made possible by improvements in computing power, broadband speed and data collection technologies. We are seeing the seamless transfer of information between stakeholders that’s more timely and complete. The result? Increased productivity, amplified sustainability efforts and opened doors to new business opportunities. Here’s more on five trends that Boris Skopljak, Vice President of Survey & Mapping and Building Construction Field Systems at Trimble, believes will spark the most change in 2024.

Continued Growth in Reality Capture

Reality capture solutions are driving geospatial data democratization, enhancing quality and speeding up information collection. Advanced 3D scanners and mobile mapping systems are significantly impacting the capabilities of the surveying and mapping industry, resulting in larger data volumes and heightened precision. This evolution is facilitating informed decision-making based on comprehensive asset understanding. A growing array of purpose-built reality capture solutions are simplifying technology adoption. Despite evolving technology, surveyor expertise will remain integral for dataset integration and ensuring client expectations of accuracy and precision are met. Office software, like Trimble Business Center (TBC) combines data from multiple sensors (survey data, drone data, scanning data), and streamlines processing, storage, sharing, and analysis to reduce costs and enhance reliability.

Model-Based Workflows

The shift towards connected digital environments, encompassing BIM and digital twins, relies on model-based information and intelligent data with contextual depth beyond xyz locations. The geospatial industry is transitioning to object-centric thinking, focusing on objects like bridge pylons or walls with associated properties rather than traditional point, line, and polygon concepts. This "radical" shift aligns with customer language and preferences. Field data collectors, such as the Trimble T10x, boast processing capabilities comparable to desktop computers. This empowers users to handle larger models in the field with enhanced graphical interfaces, enabling in-field calculations and shifting some processing and decision-making tasks from the office to the field when needed. In practical applications like shotcrete spraying or concrete pouring, field operators can now conduct inspection analysis onsite before leaving.

Connectivity & Interoperability

Advancing toward a fully connected experience in construction, infrastructure, and other complex projects, improved stakeholder coordination is ensuring error-free, on-time, and budget-conscious projects. Connecting field users with real-time design updates minimizes rework and enhances workflow efficiency. Strengthened connectivity across offices expedites project timelines. Crucially for the geospatial industry, connected workflows are effectively communicating the value of geospatial data. Trimble Connect plays a key role, providing a common data environment for seamless collaboration throughout a project's lifecycle. With cloud connectivity and interoperability via APIs, data flows seamlessly across diverse environments, from conceptual design to operations and maintenance systems.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

In 2023, AI took the spotlight and will continue to rise in relevance. Advanced hardware is enabling the acquisition and storage of vast geospatial datasets, with AI enhancing efficient data extraction. AI accelerates point cloud classification and feature extraction, automating repetitive tasks for survey and mapping professionals. At Trimble, AI is integrated across portfolios, expediting tasks and allowing more time for human-based analysis. In Trimble Business Center (TBC), AI generates pavement condition reports from mobile mapping data, conducts quick stockpile volume calculations using drone data, and enables customers to train datasets for tailored AI-optimized results.

Business Model Transformation

Innovation in technology and across business models is enabling survey and mapping professionals to access technology on their terms. High-end system costs often act as a barrier to entry, limiting access for professionals and projects. Beyond traditional buying, renting, or leasing options, there's a shift toward OPEX-based models like on-demand, subscription, and pay-per-use. These models support companies with seasonal workforces and variable consumption needs. An example is the Trimble Catalyst GNSS receiver with DA2 antenna, which offers a cost-effective entry for precise positioning through "position as a service." Users can access the GNSS hardware inexpensively, subscribing to the accuracy level they need from Trimble correction services, providing scalability and flexibility for diverse applications.

Rest assured: 2024 will be anything but boring in the world of geospatial data. With such positive momentum and drive to improve, it’s an exciting time to be involved in connecting the digital world to the real world.