professionals in order to spot major shifts, innovations, and difficulties in the realms of technology and business operations. The research results from this year stress the significance of sustainability, training, and the use of cutting-edge technology in the geospatial industry. It’s a hopeful time, but there are external dangers that could derail that. But it is also obvious that technological advances are expanding the possibilities for the mapmaker and surveyor of today and tomorrow.
The managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva, recently issued a public warning that ‘deglobalization,’ or the fragmentation of the global economy, could cause a major blow to the worldwide economy, possibly leading to a global contraction of 7% over the long term. As a result of globalisation, Georgieva claims that billions of people are now better off financially, physically, and intellectually. “Since the end of the Cold War, the world economy has roughly tripled, and nearly 1.5 billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty,” the Bulgarian head of the IMF said. We must not throw away the progress made towards harmony and cooperation. Finally, governments should focus on promoting trade, reducing debt, and addressing climate issues rather than forming blocs and engaging in conflicts if they want to be successful in tackling the future’s challenges as a whole. Since the geospatial industry is embedded in and has an impact on the global economy, it stands to reason that this macroeconomic setting will lend important perspective to the findings of our survey.
All smiles, all the time
According to the results of our most recent survey, the vast majority of geospatial experts believe that the future of the surveying and mapping industry is brighter in 2018 than it was in 2022. About 43.6 percent of respondents think the outlook will improve, 24.2 percent think it will improve a great deal, and 26.3 percent think it will remain about the same, while less than 6 percent are pessimistic. This points to an upbeat outlook in the geospatial industry for the coming year, which is likely influenced by the widespread sentiment that we have finally moved past the COVID-19 era.
It’s important to keep in mind the subjective nature of these responses. When taking into account what economic experts are predicting, the survey results may not be indicative of the industry’s true future prospects. Still, the majority of responses we received from mapping and surveying experts who participated in our survey corroborate the upbeat tone. Several factors contribute to what appears to be an unshakeable upbeat outlook. There has been a lot of talk about the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its role in reviving dormant projects and reopening sites after the COVID disaster. Meanwhile, geospatial data is becoming increasingly recognised for its potential in combating issues like climate change. Due to these changes, geomatics professionals are in high demand.
A geospatial expert from Louisiana, USA, talks about the need for land acquisition and construction surveys due to the massive investment in the state’s and nation’s infrastructure. Large-scale new projects for solar farms or undersea power lines were mentioned by many respondents, as were public and private investments in renewable energy, new mines, and new electricity transmission projects. The use of green hydrogen is also mentioned as a new possibility with bright prospects.
In general, respondents see a growing need for improved data and modelling as having a positive effect on the future of the surveying and mapping sector in 2023. Adding to this is the fact that many projects are being restarted (in step with the post-Covid economic recovery), new opportunities are emerging as a result of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and geospatial data is making a contribution to issues like climate change.
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Issues in the Business World
Even though geospatial experts are generally optimistic, they do have some legitimate concerns. Looking at these issues in greater detail can help shed light on the threats the geospatial industry faces and the solutions that have been proposed to address them. The IMF’s expressed worries about macroeconomic and geopolitical trends are shared by some of the perceived threats. While the majority of people in this survey are optimistic about the future, a sizable minority thinks the economy will suffer a decline in 2023. For instance, as many nations are experiencing inflation at the moment, recessions may be on the horizon. Regarding the industry’s potential for future profit growth, one respondent explains, “Inflationary pressures and also increased competition from new market entrants charging lower prices for products and services may impact the industry.”
Unbelievably high numbers of respondents worry about the future of their profession due to other factors that could present serious hurdles for the geospatial industry. The average age of surveyors in many Western countries is well over 50, according to one respondent, who also notes that this may be an underestimate. This means that many surveyors will be leaving the workforce in the next 15 years to pursue other opportunities. This is compounded in many European countries by the relatively small pool of graduates from surveying degree programmes. For example, “there are not enough surveyors being produced through the system to meet an ever-increasing demand for qualified professionals,” said one respondent to sum up the situation. More surveyors are retiring than are joining the profession, as one commentator puts it: “Surveying is a dying industry.” Another respondent is concerned that there will be an even greater shortage of surveying experts in the future. Indeed, as has been reported in GIM International, the industry is suffering from a severe lack of young talent and a dearth of skilled workers. As we will see below, this is one of the three biggest challenges that the geospatial industry will face in the near future.