The Department of Industrial and Management Engineering at IIT Kanpur played host to a seminar by Mr. Rajib Roy, CEO of Quantum Spatial Ltd., who put forth an overview of how analysis of geospatial data can bring about a paradigm shift in the world of information and how its subsequent analysis can result in benefits to various organisations.
Mr. Roy was quite forthright in bringing out some merry factoids about his career and his perception of the various walks of the world that he had been involved with. He eased us into the new and emerging world of geospatial data analytics, and the current playing fields surrounding this mystery. With the detection of trees having potential to cause forest fires in dry California terrain, to scouting and negating their possible interaction with live transmission lines with actual analysis on the z-axis, geospatial data analytics encompasses a very broad horizon of areas of application.
He then provided certain insight from the history of Quantum Spatial, a company with its grassroots dating back to the First World War, when reconnaissance missions from overhead flights were first used widely, and later on saw uses in crop dusting; to a current blue chip customer base and a 500 strong workforce.
The primary difference between geospatial data and normal data is the conspicuous absence of structure as Mr. Roy strikingly brought forward. Performing predictive analysis with unstructured data represents a whole new level of analytics previously uncharted. This problem is normally approached in 3 different phases; the first phase being the collection of data, represents a cost intensive solution where fleets of aeroplanes, helicopters, drones and vehicles from land collect data using technologies like LIDAR, hyper spectral cameras and various sensors. Mr. Roy reflected on the advancement in data collection technology and the humongous investments it represents behind the short life cycles of the devices till obsolescence. The second phase represents a conversion of this data into structured form after cleaning it. While the first part of the process can be sourced from third parties, this is generally done in-house where terabytes of data are processed on a daily basis. The third phase represents analysis and interpretation of this data, and its representation in a constructive manner that various businesses can utilize.
Mr. Roy moved to discussing the exciting new opportunities in the geospatial data segment, commenting on how new problem solvers can truly bring cost effective solutions to the table, with this being an area of concern that the new upcoming start-ups can very well target. With the movement of technology from passive to the active acquisition, new avenues have opened up, where Mr. Roy explained the classic example of imagery versus LIDAR, and the problems with the collection of data via satellites. Advances in the geospatial segment are also supposed to follow the classic cycle of defence usage moving on to civil, consumer and finally business centric uses. Geospatial analytics has finally breached the civil usage barrier and has tremendous new opportunities in the business consumer segment. Challenges surrounding the same would be in the areas of interpretation of unstructured data and involve cost effective solutions for the entire process. Mr. Roy concluded with the possibility of India adopting geospatial data analytics in the future and making the best use of her fundamentally immense resource pool.