I had a chance to listen back to our DM Radio mashup last week about geospatial data, the use of geographic information systems (GIS) and the arrival of big data and analytics.
Everybody seems to know or can reference something about the use of location data from GPS, or cell phone triangulation that can monitor road traffic patterns for traffic reports or urban planning. Truck fleets can be managed remotely. In health care, there are plenty of stories referencing asset tracking and mobile data entry in hospitals. In mining, field engineers and inspectors no longer ponder sheaves of maps on the hoods of pickup trucks to know where they are.
All these uses and many more will be more commonplace, but the arrival of big data and analytics, all the more prolific because of social and mobile apps, is new fertile ground for GIS.
Though we can't yet see the destination, some themes emerged in this show with Eric Kavanagh, who brought in Shawn Rogers from Enterprise Management Associates, Dean Stoecker from Alteryx, Deepak Advani from IBM, and Jason Hinsburger from Sybase (an SAP company).
- The application programming interface or API is an important route to access and expose location and other granular data from social applications. (Though more data has been known to be flowing through APIs for a long time, it's just that much more abundant with mobile and social applications.)
- An application layer is emerging for interaction with more powerful mobile devices to take advantage of more powerful devices and transfer/access information.
- Multiple kinds of analytics are being applied to GIS social and mobile data for more comprehensive views, with a few caveats.
I'll leave you with some quotes from our show guests below. I have paraphrased them liberally and stitched them to bring the thoughts together, but the entire context can be heard in the show.
Shawn Rogers, Enterprise Management Associates.
"[Social platforms have] APIs that are simple enough to use that even I can use them ... We all think of Twitter as this 140 character message but it carries more than that ... All [social] platforms are different, they pack their data in different ways."
"There are companies that will pre-filter the massive amounts of data coming off of platforms and funnel it into your business intelligence systems. Most of this is available through APIs and feeds where you can monitor this data and put it to good use."
"Vendors will help you filter information, listen to keywords and concepts ... and bring it to you from multiple sources at a time in a blended single API custom built for your application."
"There is a caveat, social media is not empirical and it can be gamed ... But when we talk about the volume of social data and the fact that it's consumer-led information, there is not as much goofing around as we figure there might be."
Dean Stoecker, CEO/founder of Alteryx
"Everything that happens in business happens somewhere ... Geospatial was generally seen as an island technology, [but] when it's mainstreamed into business processes it's just easier to consume."
"There is a dividing line between digesting data and storing data and managing data versus having an application layer that allows you to actually go from big data to big opportunity."
"The data can be structured and unstructured, little or big, data coming from social networks. It could be in your data store and then the value of geospatial becomes where it's deployed so anybody can leverage it to make great decisions."
"For many years we've thought about GIS as the map, the map as metaphor, and it's really about data and analytics that liberate geospatial. We believe the best apps are built not by folks near to the database but by folks near to the business."
Deepak Advani, IBM
"We have to be able to consider different types of data, have the ability to analyze large amounts of data, the ability to run analytics in real time and be able to integrate different types of analytics from descriptive to predictive to optimization."
"We're also seeing integration, not only of different types of data ... but also different types of analytics and different methods. You could do your sentiment analysis to extract different concepts and keywords, but you can also do social network analysis to figure out how influential certain people are. Other techniques include entity analytics that let you figure out who people are."
Jason Hinsburger, Sybase, an SAP company
"Mobile devices coming out are getting more and more powerful ... it's become pretty clear that every device out there is going to have some way of determining location ... Being able to give people the opportunity to run the [powerful] applications on those devices opens up a whole new opportunity."
"Access to geospatial maps was cost-prohibitive for small to medium-sized businesses until Google and Microsoft made the base data available to everyone. Once that happened it became much easier for an ISV to build an application to sell to businesses [for the purpose of] taking advantage of spatial data."
"Now we can get data out into the world and move it down to a device, perform operations on that data like distance, who's the closest employee to a customer needing service, and feed that data back into the enterprise ... It's how we move data around efficiently."
"It's really more of everything ... It's being able to perform simple BI operations on the device rather than having to make a request into the BI system, being able to do simple calculation on the device and get information back immediately. With data caps you want to minimize the amount of data transferring back and forth to these devices."