Geospatial analysis involves the gathering, display, and manipulation of imagery, Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates, satellite photography and data (real-time or historical), making use of explicit geographic coordinates or identifiers used in geographic models.
Geospatial analysis has advanced considerably in terms of:
- Greater precision, accuracy and granularity;
- Easier and faster transmission, analysis and manipulation (e.g. the connectivity of
mega-constellations of satellites);
- The number and type of devices equipped with geospatial and location identification (e.g. different types of devices include the Internet of Things, mobile phones, sensor networks, connected cars, etc.).
For example, fifth-generation mobile technology, IMT-2020 (or 5G), when implemented in the millimetre wave bands, would require very accurate geospatial data and denser telecom networks with significantly higher numbers of base stations than traditional mobile networks. Both accurate geographical data and advanced spatial analytics would be crucial to ensure that these radio networks are cost-effective and efficient. 5G base stations would need to be synchronized to within nanoseconds to improve the positioning accuracy for smart transportation and intelligent traffic management systems.
Geospatial data and information are very valuable, from the global level right down to the local level and can be used for many different use cases, including to monitor, verify and/or confirm:
- Climate modelling and weather prediction; monitoring local weather, seasonal or climatic systems (e.g. the El Niño effect);
- Tracking urbanization and the gas emissions and/or pollution from cities and industry;
- Urban use cases, including intelligent transport systems, autonomous vehicles and monitoring traffic congestion in real-time;
- Natural disasters (e.g. extent of landslides or flooding) and relief efforts;
- Identifying and mapping facilities, e.g. schools, clinics, refugee camp size and facilities;
- Monitoring abuse of human rights (e.g. treatment of refugee populations);
- Identifying archaeological sites of interest;
- Mapping deforestation and land use, and estimating crop yields for predicting trends in food and commodity markets;
- Estimating poverty and income levels (e.g. from type of cars or the quality of roof materials);
- Population and animal migrations.
National governments and local authorities need information about a country, the environment, assets, people, and its physical and social infrastructure to inform robust evidence-based decision-making and to encourage economic development, entrepreneurial activity, transparency, or national security.