Exploring the Latest Geospatial Trends and Innovations at Geo Connect Asia 2023

Geospatial technology is creating groundbreaking solutions to improve systems and empower organizations

Photo by Pushpins

Hall B of the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Marina Bay Sands in Singapore was abuzz with excitement and activities for the Geo Connect Asia 2023, a two-day conference that kicked off last March 15, 2023. The annual event, first launched in 2021, brought together leaders in the geospatial industry. Participants showcased the latest innovations in geospatial technology, digital construction, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The convention also served as a venue for knowledge sharing as experts from various industries talked about real-world applications of location intelligence.

Here, we list down a few use cases that demonstrate the crucial role of geospatial analytics in crafting efficient, timely, and sustainable solutions.

Geospatial intelligence in real estate: elevating the buying and selling experience

Creating digital twins for properties allows buyers to visualize their dream home without the need for actual viewing or staging, especially when the property is on its pre-selling stage. But visualization in 3D goes beyond rendering the physical elements of a residential or commercial space. Details such as where the sunrise is and where the shadows fall at different times of the day (shadowcasting), flow of traffic, proximity to commercial districts and schools, and desired floor, for instance, can be made readily available so buyers can easily narrow down their search. When such essential information becomes available in just a few clicks, real estate developers can efficiently cater to potential buyers while cutting costs on staging and daily or weekly viewings.

Geospatial intelligence in urban development: accelerating the creation of smart cities

Interconnectedness is the soul of a smart city, with geospatial systems at the center. However, a smart city can’t just rely on the bells and whistles of technology; it also has to thrive with and adapt to the natural world for it to be truly sustainable.

Peter Sasi, vice president of Greehill in Asia Pacific, said the company took it upon itself to be the “spokesperson” for urban trees. Greehill is a nature-based solutions provider and was one of the participants at the Geo Connect Asia 2023 conference. It maps and profiles trees for urban forest management, supplying valuable insights to cities on how to maintain their greenery in relation to human activities and natural disasters. With a tree inventory, the local city government can immediately identify which ones need pruning to avoid road accidents. It’s also easy to assess and monitor the health of these giant sentinels, and where to plant more of them in areas that need more shade to deflect urban heat.

Geospatial technology in agriculture: drones and automation for a more efficient plantation management

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more commonly referred to as drones, are a noteworthy investment in the agricultural sector. A more accurate inventory of an entire plantation can be created through remote sensing using aerial photographs or satellite imagery (or a combination of both) and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR). This method is incredibly efficient compared with manual inspection. Disease identification and control are done much faster, with specialized UAVs delivering pesticides to hard-to-reach areas.

With geospatial technology, all these tasks—and more—are executed in  a more timely and efficient method, thereby increasing yield and productivity.

Indoor mapping and asset management: revolutionizing the health sector

Hospitals are a battlefield, making it challenging to keep an inventory of healthcare equipment like wheelchairs, ventilators, beds, and mobility assistive tools. With geospatial technology such as indoor mapping, coupled with Bluetooth tags, tracking, maintaining, and usage monitoring of these items becomes easier. This also reduces equipment downtime while unburdening hospital staff with less administrative duties, ultimately improving patient care.  

Geospatial solutions for resort management: enhancing preventive maintenance for maximum safety

Ensuring that every ride in an amusement park is regularly maintained is, well, not a walk in the park. Towering attractions, like rollercoasters, Ferris wheels, and free-fall rides, pose a constant challenge to inspect.

Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore employ drones to make sure such rides are properly maintained for safety. During his talk at the Geo Connect Asia 2023, Resorts World Sentosa Assistant Vice President for Technical Services Chia Lun Chew explained how the use of UAVs allows them to thoroughly conduct inspections sans the limits of a boom lift, which can only reach a certain height. Moreover, drones can be operated during daytime, providing better visibility; boom lifts, on the other hand, can only be used at night when there are no more park visitors.

These are just a few examples of the numerous applications of geospatial technology in almost every industry. With future technological advancements in the field of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), the use of geospatial intelligence is bound to expand.

The backbone of future innovations

Imagine the following scenarios: robots performing tasks in a plantation regardless of the time of day, like delivering fertilizers, exponentially increasing productivity; farmers caring for crops at the comfort of their homes, thanks to remote farming.

Sustainable smart cities will no longer be an ideal but a reality as seamless synergy between artificial systems and the natural world becomes accessible. Think: streetlights automatically dimming when no one is around, thereby saving energy; transport systems running on clean energy sources;  and optimized garbage collection routes that reduce carbon emission through effective route planning.

The confluence of AI, robotics, and geospatial intelligence will benefit not only businesses, institutions, and industries; it will also become part of our day-to-day lives. William Lee, associate professor at the Advanced Robotics Centre of the National University of Singapore, enthusiastically shared his vision at the conference: robots serving us tea or coffee, and intelligent machines helping care for patients in hospitals. Lee, however, recognized the current limitations and challenges: How do you teach a machine to open a bottle—should it press, pop, flick, or twist the cap? The professor also raised the question, “How can we find a way to make a machine less a machine but still a machine?”

All this may look like a scene from a science fiction flick, but the rate at which technology advances in leaps and bounds makes this page from speculative fiction a reality that’s more immediate than it is distant. And for organizations to stay relevant and ahead of their game, embracing geospatial intelligence is essential.

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