Businesses today are driven by data and intelligent technologies powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Internet of Things (IoT) are enabling organizations to take informed, objective decisions. Location analytics is one such technology that is ushering in fundamental transformations in business activities. Its wide scope has given birth to a thriving market, advancing at a breathtaking pace through constant innovation. In a recent report, Fortune Business Insights™ projects that the global location analytics market size will reach USD 26.75 billion by 2026, surging a CAGR of 16.5%. But what exactly is location analytics and why are enterprises so enthusiastically adopting it?
Understanding the Various Benefits of Location Intelligence Technologies
In the simplest of terms, location analytics, also known as geospatial intelligence, can be thought of as an amalgam of business and geographic data to decipher the linkages between locations and people, assets, and events. Careful examination of this blended data reveals how these discrete elements in a transactional situation relate to each other. Once the data is dissected and analyzed, it can allow, for example, a retail chain business to:
- Boost sales through targeted marketing as location analytics can provide information about purchase patterns and preferences linked with particular store locations, making it possible to implement market strategies in most lucrative areas;
- Enhance customer satisfaction, since locational intelligence will allow retailers to customize availability of certain products in specific areas based on the spatial data captured; and
- Increase return on investments as businesses can identify investment hotspots quickly and accurately and thus judiciously employ resources.
Recognizing the wide-ranging advantages of this technology and its future potential for enterprises, tech companies are engaged in a perpetual competition to outdo each other in terms of innovation.
Esri’s New Release to Provide Real-Time Data Insights
In March 2020, the US-based geospatial intelligence specialist, Esri, introduced the ArcGIS Analytics for IoT to enable organizations to efficiently manage vast volumes of data generated by IoT devices. Featuring real-time data collection and analysis as well as improved situational awareness, the novel solution by Esri is designed for diverse applications including weather monitoring, asset tracking, and personnel management. Moreover, Analytics for IoT has conceived to complement existing Geographic Information System (GIS) infrastructures, facilitating location analysis for transportation, exploration of natural resources, and public safety.
IBM and Red Hat Leverage Cloud Computing to Tap 5G Capabilities
The rollout of 5G infrastructure is heralding a new era for cloud computing and data analytics. With a view to capitalize this emerging trend, IBM Corporation and Red Hat announced the launch of next-gen edge computing solutions. Combined with IBM’s multi-cloud solutions, edge services will allow businesses to harness the potential of 5G to support critical operations such as emergency response and connected-car safety. The IBM Edge Application Manager, for example, will enable deployment and remote management of IoT, analytics, and AI workloads, delivering scalable real-time data insights. Furthermore, Vodafone Business is utilizing IBM’s edge computing technology to improve safety of workers working in remote places such as oil rigs, mines, ports, and so on. All of IBM’s new offerings will run on OpenShift, the multi-cloud, agile platform by Red Hat.
GIS: Surmounting Barriers with Locational Intelligence
An interesting aspect of location intelligence is the vast potential it holds for key application areas such as agriculture and disaster management. A form of location analytics, Geographic Information System (GIS) has been instrumental in boosting countries’ efforts to increase agricultural yield. In January 2020, for example, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) partnered with North Macedonia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy (MAFWE) to develop an agro-ecological atlas of the country. The effort will involve demarcating agricultural lands for specific crops using geospatial technologies and identifying the most productive zones for agriculture and establishing sustainable farming practices in those areas. Similar exercise was undertaken by the FAO in December 2019 in the Punjab region of Pakistan, where encouraging climate-smart agriculture and increasing agricultural efficiency were the primary goals.
In case of disaster management, government bodies are utilizing GIS capabilities to develop different models to mitigate and effectively respond to natural calamities. For instance, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) uses the “SLOSH” model to locate areas where hurricanes, once they have made landfall, are most likely to cause flooding. This will allow disaster management agencies to communicate efficiently with local bodies to plan evacuation strategies ahead of the storm.
Location Analytics amid COVID-19: A Challenge and an Opportunity
One of the biggest challenges governments have had to grapple with since the coronavirus pandemic broke has been the tracing and monitoring of COVID-19 patients. Location-intelligence technologies have proved to be a boon for countries in tackling this persistent obstacle in the global effort to contain the spread of the virus. Singapore, for example, launched a mobile application called TraceTogether in March 2020, which allows citizens in aiding the government’s efforts in contact tracing of individuals, who may be suspected of carrying the infection, and prevent exposure of uninfected persons. The app works via exchange of Bluetooth signals at short distances. In Spain, to take another example, an app called “Coronamadrid” was introduced in April 2020, which was designed to enable individuals to self-evaluate their symptoms and determine if they have been infected, in case they are feeling unwell. The idea was to lighten the load on the overburdened healthcare call centers in Madrid. These examples sufficiently prove that location analytics will be a key technology for the healthcare industry in the future.
The Dangers of Over-Reliance on Modern Technologies
While smart technologies such as location analytics, AI, and IoT have become an integral part of human civilization, moderating their usage will be crucial. With copious amounts of data being generated from widespread utilization of new-age technologies, the quotient of susceptibility to cyber-attacks has been significantly elevated in recent times. Not only private hackers, but various government agencies have also been accused of extracting private data of individuals, especially locational data, to monitor movements under the pretext of ensuring security. However, the vast potential of location analytics in improving lives and accelerating economic development cannot be denied and innovations in the right direction will maximize benefits for all.