We are in the middle of an industry transformation, and that means that we need to think differently about maps, about form, and about information. At HxGN LIVE in Hong Kong, the Geospatial Keynote from Hexagon Geospatial President Mladen Stojic introduced us to the next evolution of the geospatial map, the Map of the Future: the dynamic Hexagon Smart M.App.
The map of today is a static representation of what was, limited in time scope, and limiting our ability to communicate information. And isn’t that the purpose of a map?
What is the Map of the Future?
The Map of the Future is more than a map….[it]is a dynamic information experience, providing us a reflection of what was, information about what is, insight into what can be, and trust and confidence in what will be. The Map of the future is the Hexagon Smart M.App. Mladen Stojic
The Map of the Future is a dynamic map. Not only must it provide answers to what is, but it must also describe what was, what can be, and empower us to predict what should be. The Map of the Future is not a map.
Hexagon Smart M.App is an online cloud application that delivers and communicates an online information experience. It contains geospatial content, business workflows, analytics and business intelligence, and a design that provides a tailored information experience for the end user.
The Information Experience
Human beings are natural-born Form-Givers. When we see something that looks formless, we want to understand it. To understand it, we seek to put it in a recognizable pattern. Take, for example, the stars. At first glance, they look incredibly complex and unfathomable. But then we gave them form, arranging them into recognizable constellations so we could remember and track them. As we tracked them, we realized that we could use them for timing the seasons and for navigation. Because we gave them form, we could use their data to provide us with information we needed.
For 500 years or so, maps were the pinnacle of location-based information. They provided a graphic image of the earth’s surface, helping us to understand how our proximity affects our interactions. But as we advanced, we realized that there was so much more that maps could do. Edward Tufte, for example, has expounded on how Charles Minard used his Map of Napoleon’s March to Moscow to convey a much greater payload on information than simple location: He described latitude, longitude, position, troop strength, weather, direction, and number of trips all in a single form.
Building on the good information design principles set forth by Tufte, we have sought to build a new incarnation of the map. This doesn’t treat the map as the endgame; instead it recognizes that the map is simply a means of communication information. We want to empower people to see answers through the map. By combining content, workflows, analytics, and presentation experience, the Hexagon Smart M.App provides a new form for communicating information through a dynamic information experience.
A Dynamic M.App Needs Dynamic Data
The traditional map is a static entity. Once it is created, it is a snapshot in time. This is no longer good enough. With the explosion of data sources and types, we need to be able to combine all of them into a dynamic map, a map that is capable of updating itself with the latest content and providing near-real-time information to decision makers. Through partnerships with data providers like Ordnance Survey, we are seeking to link the Hexagon Smart M.App with channels for finding and acquiring the data you need to fuel your Hexagon Smart M.App.
Bringing the combination of “SmartGeo” and providing the ability to map more and more data sources in a sensible way so that relationships can be found—so that best decisions can be made—is something that ourselves and Hexagon are very focused on.
Nigel Clifford, CEO, Ordnance Survey
In addition to connecting with content partners, you need a means to store and deliver that data to stakeholders, globally-dispersed teams, and, eventually, to fuel your own Hexagon Smart M.Apps. To accomplish this, we are proud to introduce M.App Chest. M.App Chest is a secure, cloud-based service for hosting, sharing, distributing your geospatial data. Because all geospatial data is also Big Data, you can also compress the data into formats like ECW or JPEG2000 to save storage space.
Meaningful Information Services Need Business Experts
The Hexagon Smart M.App is an incredibly powerful and innovative technological approach, but the true power of this lies in the innovation in you. You have the domain and local expertise to make the Hexagon Smart M.Apps that will change the world and we want to connect with you and reward your ingenuity!
In the next weeks, we will be launching the M.App Studio. This provides you a dynamic, connected service which provides you with the tools you need to build your own Hexagon Smart M.App. This is a web-based set of tools that provide all of the pieces you need to build a Smart M.App. It lets you connect to the content, use the Hexagon Geospatial tools to string together the inputs and operators to perform the geospatial analysis, provides access to business intelligence and analytics widgets that you can the fuse into your Map to visualize change.
In the Netherlands, local councils are stressed with keeping up with growing urban areas. They need help making decisions on a number of Smart City fronts, including where to invest money in repairing and upgrading their road network. Through partnerships with Antea Group and Imagem, they will use the Hexagon Smart M.App dashboard as a vehicle for acquiring real-time insight to help them with their decision-making.
Watch the Geospatial Keynote recording for the whole story!