We often hear in private sector circles that governments should behave more like business, but I don’t subscribe to that way of thinking. We’ve each got our areas of expertise; what we need to do is bring them more into alignment so we can all benefit.
Government is about the greater good, about providing equitable services and information to the public. Business is about generating wealth by identifying and serving customers. What we share is a willingness and mandate to solve problems and when we can identify a shared problem that we both want to solve, that is when we work best together.
The global pandemic has created that opportunity in the world of spatial data analysis, mapping and earth observation, where technological innovation has seen expertise and information, once dominated by government surveying services, migrate to the private sector.
Remember when we used to have to pop into the gas station to buy road maps, or visit the local government office and pay a fee to access basic land surveys? The information contained in those maps and surveys used to belong exclusively to governments; now it is shared.
Government no longer has a monopoly on what I call the entry points to geospatial information. Where governments do still play a critical spatial data collection and analysis role is regarding specialized information, such as surveying of public lands for development, monitoring and environmental protection. For instance, both national and provincial/state governments have information on terrain, topography, meteorology, geology, ecosystem interactions, habitats, and migration patterns for the land they oversee. In Canada, publicly-held land is called Crown lands, and account for 89 per cent of the country’s total landmass, the majority of which is held by provincial governments. However, not all of this information is in one database. Often, it is spread across a few departments, making it difficult for people to access the various data points. The full picture is difficult to put together.
Now add COVID-19 to the mix. It put a halt to the traditional wine-and-dine visits and personal pitches that government economic development people used to make to potential investors. Instead, it all happens on video chats and email threads, and I doubt we’ll be returning to the old way anytime soon.
People, particularly busy investors and business owners, have adapted to the digital meeting approach; it’s cheaper and more efficient. You can cover a lot more ground in back-to-back Zoom calls than we ever could walking door-to-door.
However, if you’re going to be effective at distance pitching, you better have some detailed images of your offer.
Personally, Tom, me and our sales team have adapted, learning to create a competitive advantage with digital and visual technology. It’s the same for governments hoping to attract new people, investments and industries. Those who can adapt will flourish, and we know we’ve got the technology to make that happen.
3D Planeta’s technology can stack layers of spatial data to create a 3D visualization of anywhere on earth that includes multiple data points. This is the metaverse in action, fusing publicly-held spatial technology with the earth observation images we access via commercial satellite, drone and aerial footage.
For instance, we can task satellites to capture hi-resolution images of the same area over time, and apply advanced change detection to enable customers to consider infrastructure growth, the potential investment value of a remote area rich in natural resources, or how the state of decommissioning and remediation of now-closed resource projects.
This is the power of shared data, sourced from both public and private sources. Geographical and spatial data is no longer a departmental asset; it is a public asset that when fused with other sources of data can create a powerful visualization of what we have – and what could be.