Data for the Future – “Will Sensors Determine the Digital Infrastructure?”

Berlin/Karlsruhe, 14 April 2014. Regular exhibitors, members of the INTERGEO Advisory Board, organisers HINTE GmbH and host DVW e.V. came together at this year’s INTERGEO Round Table in the German capital Berlin. Experts agree that the digital infrastructures we need are not so much a technical problem as an organisational challenge.

Whether it’s the energy revolution, megacities or demographic change, the DVW’s President Karl-Friedrich Thöne says: “Geoinformation is the key to unlocking the main challenges of the 21st century.” This is because, alongside providing and processing data, there is also a need for networking, in other words the classic land management activities, he explains.

In concrete, everyday terms, cutting-edge sensor technology can be used to tackle issues such as “How to avoid traffic jams? How can the over-80s be offered a (safe) means of continuing to drive? How might we solve the energy problem?” – to name just a few key examples. Sensors will certainly play a role in meeting these challenges of the future, but not as much as intelligently networked geoinformation. Sensors already play a vital role in terms of environmental monitoring, disaster protection and forecasting floods. Humans themselves are also important sensors. They send a constant flow of real-time information with their smartphones that can be collected anonymously and used in a whole variety of ways to support intelligent networks.

Networking a key issue
It is not just the non-stop flood of data being sent and recorded for professional or mundane purposes all over the world, but more an issue of how to process it. Experts are agreed on this point. When asked about this during the Round Table discussion by host Hagen Graeff from DVW GmbH, the participants were almost unanimous in their response: “It is not just sensors that will determine the digital infrastructure. It’s more a matter of networking systems and of thinking backwards from the desired outcome and planning with an eye to the future,” as Gerd Buziek from Esri Deutschland says. Peter Hecker from the GEOkomm association agrees: “I don’t believe that sensors determine our infrastructure at all anymore. Instead, it is more a matter of organisation.”

“More often than not, it is political issues that thwart networking rather than technical hurdles,” says Trimble’s Jörg Amend. His colleague Fernando Calvo agrees, pointing to “the need for multiple approaches to processing the vast volumes of data that are stored real-time in the Cloud. A simple increase in data doesn’t automatically constitute progress in itself.” Jürgen Dold, Leica-Geosystems, backs them up: “Among other things, sensor technology provides professional, high-resolution data. The technical challenges this presents are not unduly problematic. The issue is an organisational one, because from a data point of view Germany is quite a mixed bag.”
Esri’s Peter Ladstätter illustrated the point with a very pertinent example from a different sector: “The case of subsidising solar panels (as in Bavaria, unfortunately) reveals how a fundamentally good idea can fall foul of scattering resources too thinly. In summer, too much energy is produced and no-one knows quite what to do with it – then in winter there’s none at all. What’s lacking is the networking needed to resolve matters meaningfully and for the long-term,” he says.
This is precisely where INTERGEO comes into play, according to DVW President Karl-Friedrich Thöne, who addressed calls from the sector’s representatives for greater political networking: “INTERGEO is much more than just a technology showground. It demonstrates the entire spectrum of GIS applications along with solutions for data capture, processing and distribution in the fields of geodesy, geoinformation and land management. The conference represents a vital forum for bringing together politicians, interest groups and representatives of industry.”

The Round Table concluded that a great deal can be achieved by intelligently networking geoinformation, which has been captured at least in part using sensor technology, and marrying it with a uniform data language.

INTERGEO is the world’s leading trade fair for geodesy, geoinformation and land management. A total of 16,383 visitors from 90 countries came to the previous communication platform to find out about the innovations in the industry from 516 companies from 30 countries.

The DVW e.V. – the German Society for Geodesy, Geoinformation and Land Management is the host of INTERGEO.
Modern, clear and up to date – Find further information on the new INTERGEO website –