As the VP of Product for Boundless, my job involves being in regular contact with our current customers, prospective users and members of the open source community. Keeping a pulse on what users want (and need) is critical to delivering effective software solutions. And while everyone has a unique perspective on feedback, there are two constants I hear again and again:
- It is critical that geospatial data be accessible for business intelligence and geo-enabled users, not just GIS professionals; and
- as the volume, variety, and velocity of geospatial data continues to increase, closed, proprietary systems simply aren’t the answer.
Companies like Google and organizations like OpenStreetMap have made geography an ordinary part of our everyday lives. Think about it…the Google Maps app on my phone helps me find my way to Starbucks without me ever having to think about the complexity of the routing engine underneath. It takes a massive datasets of streets, a myriad of turn rules, and typical traffic patterns, and gives me a turn-by-turn all the way to my latte. Pretty powerful if you ask me.
Enterprises, agencies and organizations are realizing they too can use this recipe for the next generation of geospatial capabilities. In my mind the list of requirements would look like this:
- No more costly software licenses: paying for support and maintenance is one thing, but license costs in this day and age are simply unnecessary.
- Single-vendor lock-in will be a thing of the past. Even the largest vendors are going to have to become part of an open, flexible GIS ecosystem, where the needs of the customers—not those of the vendor—take priority.
- Interoperability and agility: a clear migration path for working with heterogeneous technologies, one that allows customers to set the pace for their migration to open solutions while keeping their data completely safe.
- Scalability without penalty: The only thing certain about the future—especially one that contains the Internet of Things—is that the volume and complexity of geospatial data is going to increase dramatically. And next-generation geospatial solutions will need to be elastic enough to scale up or out to meet these changing needs.
As I tell most folks, the days of the vendors calling all the shots in the market are over. The power has shifted to the market itself, and it’s up to vendors (Boundless included) to listen and respond.