Why I’m betting on the future of Geospatial
Big Data at DigitalGlobe

John-Isaac Clark, Director of Product Management, Geospatial Big Data Over the last 8+ years I’ve been fortunate to work with many of the top innovators in the geospatial industry (in both the public and private sector) who have been working towards bringing geospatial data and analytics into everyone’s daily lives. In my former role(s), I have had the privilege of working to bring products to market that enabled organizations to collaborate and interact with spatial information in simple and easy ways designed for “the rest of the world” (translation = not just GIS power users).

Spatiotemporal data can change the world for the better, solve hard problems in new ways, and ultimately allow us to gain efficiencies we otherwise would have never been able to gain. At the same time, it is important to deliver this value in a simple and easy-to-use way for the end user. As the technology continues to evolve, my goal is to find ways to integrate it with products and solutions in highly-scalable ways so that today’s business user can easily leverage it.

Why now?

The last two to three years have brought about some amazing advances in both the high-tech and spatial industries that have set the stage for some truly exciting capabilities. I believe there are a few relevant events that, in combination, will be transformative. Specifically, the following:

  1. The FAA’s relaxation of the UAV space in the US market – creating a flood of new data about the world we live in.
  2. The planned growth of microsats – will necessitate a platform to realize value through combination with existing content and new analytics.
  3. Ubiquitous cloud computing – wide-scale adoption by Fortune 1000 (not just Silicon Valley startups) organizations is making cloud computing mainstream.
  4. Big Data Analytic Products – The leaps forward in big data analytic tools and massively parallel services – specifically within the open source space.

The combination of the above factors creates a “perfect storm” of opportunity for an organization that has a LOT of data – allowing them to leverage it in new ways to address a variety of vertical market needs.

Why DigitalGlobe?

With a content catalog containing many many petabytes of information about what has happened over the surface of the planet over the last 15 years, one of the most powerful existing satellite constellations, and even greater capability next year with WorldView-4, DigitalGlobe has an awful lot to start with when you want to build a planet-scale geospatial big data analytics platform.

Additionally, while DigitalGlobe has a rich history of providing data in the form of imagery and EO data to many customers in both public and private sectors, it has a very unique and exciting opportunity with the Geospatial Big Data (GBD) platform to go beyond delivering pixels to also deliver answers and information to customers. There is a lot of value locked inside those pixels and now is the time to tap into it.

Then, there’s the fact that before I began any formal discussions with DigitalGlobe, but was engaging with the GBD team about the opportunity I believe is here, they did something totally amazing…they LISTENED.

That is incredibly exciting to me as it is sooooo important to sometimes put the cool technology and buzz-word du jour aside and just listen to what our customers, partners, and users actually think. Most of the time when you do, you will learn a LOT about what they NEED. Working with an organization and team that believes in listening gets me excited in a big way.

Finally, while the ability to allow partners and industry to develop their own solutions is the foundation of any strong platform, the ability to provide more productized offerings (to increase ease of adoption) that ride on that platform is paramount.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s statement that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” may one day be followed up by the corollary statement that “any sufficiently advanced technology is not identifiable as technology.” In other words, for technology to be truly transformative it first must become so accessible that anyone can use it without understanding that it is, in fact, advanced technology.

DigitalGlobe has a vision for making the power of the GBD platform accessible to numerous vertical markets within productized offerings – and that’s specifically what I’ll be focused on enabling here!

What’s next?

Over the next few weeks and months, we’ll be reaching out to existing customers in key industries to get their opinions and insight on what tough problems they are trying to solve – and most importantly, to listen to what they have to say.

Because, no matter how good the technology or advanced the capabilities are, one thing I’ve learned is, “Before you build it right, make sure you’re building the right it.”

As we receive this feedback from our key customers and industry partners, we’ll begin finding ways to address those needs through repeatable, scalable, and easily accessible offerings on the DigitalGlobe GBD platform.

Why is this so important? So businesses can solve problems in ways never previously possible and gain insights that never before existed.

That’s why I’m betting on the future of Geospatial Big Data at DigitalGlobe.

John-Isaac Clark is Director of Product Management, Geospatial Big Data at DigitalGlobe.