Transformation through Digitalisation
Author: Monica Miller Rodgers
Hexagon Geosystems President Juergen Dold presented Transformation through Digitalisation at INTERGEO, the hub event of the geospatial community, 26 September at the Messe in Berlin.
In his keynote address, he differentiated between digitising and digitalising, explaining how the former is merely converting information to digital formats while the latter is changing processes to develop connected ecosystems for future collaboration. Using Paul Simon’s song, You can call me Al, Dold set the stage for his comparisons, focusing on how just two letters – AL – will forever change the way industries work.
Making the most of digital resources
Further explaining digitalisation as the strategy of adopting new technologies to make the most of the resources that are already available, he used the example of moving from the fax machine to the smart phone. With the digitalisation of apps and passcodes found in smart phones, automated transactions and processes are facilitated to make operations faster, easier and safer.
Further mitigating risks, he explained when travelling how border control has also transformed its processes. Instead of just paper passports for identification, biometrics, such as eye scans, can determine the true identify of a traveler. This can speed up immigration lines, decrease menacing individuals from entering regions and help protect nations.
Finally, in one of the most digitalised industries today, the financial sector is using data to become smarter, quicker and more secured in how it moves money. With new technologies, like facial recognition, transactions can occur easily without the need for cash or credit cards.
“Suddenly data is available and people are willing to provide that information to make their lives faster and easier,” said Dold. “This transforms how we pay for everything.”
Creating enormous potential
Focusing on cities, he went on to share how Hexagon technologies are helping to digitise cities. Speaking to the barriers of technology where previously one had to have advanced degrees and significant resources, today technology is becoming more inclusive.
“Capturing digital realities used to be an exclusive technology, inaccessible to most and only available to a few at high costs,” said Dold. “Today, though, we’re in a rapid evolution of sensor technology to apply it to many areas.”
One of those areas is smart city planning and management. Providing the foundation for a smart city, he explained how combining the use of laser scanning, ground penetrating radar and mobile mapping technologies are bringing above- and below-ground structures into a digital reality so urban planners, city managers and other professionals can make their cities more efficient and better organised for residents and visitors.
“Suddenly we’re fusing this data from different sensors to get a street view we’ve never had before,” said Dold. “We can now understand the assets not only above the street but also below the street. This is a data set that is not only relevant and valuable for one department of a city but multiple departments. You only drive once to create information that is helping many.”
Another area Hexagon is focusing on is the construction industry. This sector could greatly benefit from digitalisation strategies. Considering that global construction productivity has declined with 80 per cent of projects over budget and typically taking 20 per cent longer to finish than scheduled, disitalising construction would translate into significant time and cost savings. Dold went on to explain how Hexagon construction progress documentation and laser scanning technologies are helping bring digitalisation to this industry at all stages.
“Digitalisation touches every phase of a construction project ecosystem from design to plan to construction through execution,” he said. “The successful transformation of this is the digitisation of all key elements so all processes can be connected for collaboration.”
Smart use of big data
2.5 quintillion (19 digits).
This is the number of bytes of data created every day.
During his presentation, he claimed it’s not just about how big the data is, how much of it we have, but how smart the data is, how we use it.
“Digitising means how we make it digital. Digitalisation means how we convert the data so we can use it in collaborative platforms,” explained Dold. “At Hexagon, we are driving this with simplicity through visualisation, augmenting intelligence, and connecting the data in new ecosystems.”
Dold went on to predict that 2D won’t even be understood with new generations as everything is becoming 3D. He exemplified this theory with airborne reality capture for a city model of Rio de Janeiro, sharing how people can now digitally explore any city. He also shared how augmented reality is furthering these new tours. Displaying overlaid heat maps on the 3D model of Rio, he showed how public safety officials can do emergency planning for large events, like the Olympics and World Cup held in the city last year.
Living in a sharing economy
To demonstrate the need to share data and information, Dold asked the audience ‘what if’. What if you could simulate all the possible risks and scenarios to avoid accidents? What if you were in charge of approving the routes of oversized trucks to travel through a city? What if you could digitally drive that truck through the city and see if there would be any spots where collisions would happen, like overpasses and curves?
This is all possible in a sharing economy. When a logistics company shares the dimensions of the truck with a city manager who has the dimensions of the roads in a digital twin, collisions can be avoided. This is an example of how digitalisation is changing how entities work together and become more efficient and safe.
“The key to digitalisation is not only how to apply new technologies … it’s also about rethinking the ecosystem, which involves changing mindsets,” said Dold. “I’m convinced we will share data with many disciplines, breaking down the silos to drive affordability and availability so the ecosystem provides benefits to everyone involved. Traditional models of owning data will be a thing of the past, and we will move forward to subscription models where we will benefit from more and fresher data.”
We can if, not we can’t because
To finish his keynote, he challenged the audience to explore what was holding the industry back from fulling embracing digitalisation. Using a reservoir as a visual aid, he described how the technologies and possibilities already exist as the water source, but as the dam holds the water back, so does fear, inflexibility and outlived policies hold back the full potential of digitalisation.
“We need to [set the direction of the industry] with an attitude of ‘we can if’ and not ‘we can’t because,’” concluded Dold. “It is our responsibility as industry leaders to make digitalisation a reality, to extract value from digitalisation, and to create a legacy that is transformational to make the world a better place.”