At AlphaBeta, we’re passionate about identifying the forces shaping global markets and developing practical plans to create prosperity and well-being. We believe that geospatial technology is one of these forces, which is why we recently undertook research, commissioned by Google, to evaluate the impact of digital maps and their underlying technologies.
We asked ourselves: what is the full value of digital maps for users? How is this technology affecting the broader economic environment? How can societies make the most out of it?
We used consumer surveys across 22 countries spanning six regions, and other estimation approaches (such as big data analysis of online job postings), and found that geospatial services make an impact in three key ways:
Maps help people move and shop in a faster and more efficient way. For example, not only do digital maps reduce travel time, they also help people save time on purchases by providing information like directions and product availability. By helping people plan routes in areas they aren’t familiar with, maps also improve public safety.
Maps help make small and large businesses more visible, productive and profitable. By providing useful facts such as store hours, contact information and reviews, maps help drive sales—particularly important for small businesses that may find potential new customers without incurring additional advertising costs. Geospatial services also play a strategic role in helping companies in sectors covering approximately three quarters of the world’s GDP raise revenues and/or diminish costs. For example, retail companies use digital maps for market research and to identify the most profitable locations for their network of stores.
Finally, maps have positive spillover effects on the environment and societies around the world—for example, by creating jobs and reducing CO2 emissions through more efficient vehicle trips and easier identification of alternative transportation options. Geospatial technology can also play a role in emergencies—such as helping people prepare for a natural disaster by highlighting flood-risk areas.
The impact of geospatial services also varies from country to country—showing that there’s still room in many places to maximize the benefits of geospatial services for everyone. To do so, the geospatial industry, businesses, NGOs and governments in these areas will need to work together to promote, adopt and implement existing and new applications of geospatial technology.
To find out more, visit www.valueoftheweb.com.