Government investigates matching geospatial data with AI

Report looks into the commercial opportunities of matching location data with a number of emerging technologies

The government has funded a report to investigate the potential of matching geospatial data with emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI).

Funded by the Geospatial Commission and govtech venture firm Public, the report builds on wider Cabinet Office plans for cross-government digital transformation and looks into commercial opportunities around location data when enhanced with other technologies.

According to the report, location data is valuable to public and private sector organisations and can be used in combination with advanced technologies in areas ranging from tackling crime hotspots, to finding the quickest routes for emergency services, to deciding where best to locate warehouses. 

“Geospatial data and technology has the capability to drastically improve public services, from the way we manage transport in cities to how we plan smart energy policy,” said the chief executive at Public, Dan Korski.

“The UK government is only at the beginning of its journey in exploiting these new technologies for the benefit of citizens and service providers alike,” he added. 

The report noted that AI would be one of the primary areas of growth in the UK geospatial sector over the coming years. Land management is an example cited in the report, where startup Urban Intelligence built an AI system which aims to provide a credit score for plots of land, based on their suitability for development.

Application of geospatial data in combination with AI in logistics is another example highlighted in the report, where startup Geocollect provides geospatial imagery analysis and overlays this information with other location data feeds to create real-time assessments on safety, security and risk for the maritime trade sector.

As well as AI, the report analysed the maturity in the UK of technologies across seven other areas: cameras, imaging and sensing; unmanned vehicle systems and drones; survey, measurement and scanning; smart sensors and internet of things; simulation; connectivity and immersive technologies.

The report also provides insights into the investment landscape and case studies for external audiences which have not yet engaged with the geospatial community.

Created in 2017 with an £80m, two-year budget, the Geospatial Commission was created by the Cabinet Office to advise the government on productive and economically valuable uses of geospatial data.

The commission has been working on ways to unlock the value of location data held by its partners through emerging technologies.

In April, it announced the creation of the Underground Asset Register, which will show where electricity and phone cables, as well as gas and water pipes, are buried. The project aims to reduce maintenance costs and enhance worker safety.

Last year, it completed a project with the government and Ordnance Survey to open up OS MasterMap data to UK-based small businesses, and others.

The aim is for the OS MasterMap data to boost the UK economy by “at least” £130m each year, as startups and other companies begin to use it.

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