Geospatial data: the language you need to master for IoT fluency

by David Cockrell, Associate Director

IoT devices are everywhere – and there lies the problem. How do we keep track of every device, keep them maintained, and ensure they get to the right places at the right time in the right way? Geospatial data holds the answer.

IoT blog cityspace imageGeospatial data delivers the ‘where’ in the who, what, why, and when of data analytics. And with the rapid rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected devices, understanding exactly where these assets are located and how they perform, has become critical for safe and efficient operations.

To help illustrate why geospatial data is so valuable when paired with the Internet of Things, I’ve identified five rising areas of IoT that businesses will need to master geospatial data to get the most from.

1. Electric and autonomous vehicles

Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly prominent on our roads. It’s great news for our environment, but with battery technology still evolving, driving long distances on an electric engine is still anything but simple. Take a car journey for example. You know that a stop for fuel at some point will be inevitable, but there will undoubtedly be a filling station along the route. Swap diesel or petrol for electric – without geospatial data to know where charging points are located and their availability at any one time – and the journey becomes unpredictable, and potentially highly inefficient.

2. Smart cities

When congestion limits the free movement of people, urban populations can quickly grind to a halt, and unnecessary noise and pollution abounds. Real-time geospatial data holds the answer. So, when I talk about smart cities, I’m not referring to an autonomous sci-fi future. Rather, it’s how we use IoT and connected devices to manage and improve real-time traffic and transit movements, and make urban environments nicer places to be.

3. Digital consumers

When we shop online, the more data my favourite brands collect about us, the easier and quicker it becomes for us to shop with them. It’s a real time-saver for us, but it’s also great for those brands too.

Indeed, our collated mobile phone data helps retailers tailor their bricks and mortar store opening hours to reflect our shopping patterns on a local level. That in turn helps brands optimise store staffing levels, and intelligently decide where to site new store locations, Keeping their operations efficient, and costs low for shoppers.

The combination of customer data and geography means brands can create marketing that’s more relevant, which ultimately helps brands give customers exactly what they want, when they want it.

4. Supply chains

Modern logistics is a mammoth global web of supply chains – and without end-to-end visibility of goods, it just cannot function.

With that visibility however, not only can organisations keep track of every shipment anywhere in the world, but the process of production plant to the customer’s doorstep becomes more efficient. And when speed is everything, that can be a major source of competitive advantage.

5. Smart meters and ‘as-a-service’

If you’ve already got a smart meter tracking energy consumption in your home, lucky you. They’re not only designed to help you save energy, but they also help your energy supplier refine its offering, and work out the best way to serve you.

Utility providers can even use geospatial data to work out optimal installation sequences, based on the age of properties, ease of access and installation, the property’s utility provider, and travel times between properties.

And it’s not just business to customer relationships that can benefit. Indeed, countless manufacturers now equip their products with IoT devices as standard, helping them sell all kinds of products and services in new ways. For example, think about boilers and washing machines and those located in hard water areas (again location…) and how this can affect servicing needs, performance of the appliance and ultimately lifespan.

On a different scale, aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce has real-time visibility over many of its engines deployed around the world – allowing it to identify potential issues before they happen and gain deep insight into engine performance.

Geospatial data: the crucial component in IoT

Geospatial success doesn’t happen overnight. But if done right, it can unlock an entire world of opportunities.

You need to identify exactly how and where you can use geospatial data with your IoT devices. This can be a challenge on its own though, so it’s important to select the right partner for support.

If you’re curious about the state of geospatial data today and how it can support IoT devices and operations, get the full picture with our Geospatial Data and IoT white paper.