Sie sind auf Seite 1von 13

Geo-spatial Information Science

ISSN: 1009-5020 (Print) 1993-5153 (Online) Journal homepage:

The future of geospatial intelligence

Juergen Dold & Jessica Groopman

To cite this article: Juergen Dold & Jessica Groopman (2017) The future of geospatial intelligence,
Geo-spatial Information Science, 20:2, 151-162, DOI: 10.1080/10095020.2017.1337318

To link to this article:

2017 Wuhan University. Published by

Taylor & Francis Group

Published online: 28 Jun 2017.

Submit your article to this journal

Article views: 57

View related articles

View Crossmark data

Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at

Download by: [] Date: 08 July 2017, At: 17:48

Geo-spatial Information Science, 2017
VOL. 20, NO. 2, 151162


The future of geospatial intelligence

Juergen Dolda and Jessica Groopmanb
Hexagon Geosystems, Heerbrugg, Switzerland; bIndependent Industry Analyst and IoT Advisor, Berkeley, CA, USA


For centuries, humans capacity to capture and depict physical space has played a central role Received 6 April 2017
in industrial and societal development. However, the digital revolution and the emergence of Accepted16 May 2017
networked devices and services accelerate geospatial capture, coordination, and intelligence
in unprecedented ways. Underlying the digital transformation of industry and society is the Big data; virtual reality;
fusion of the physical and digital worlds perceptality where geospatial perception and digital reality; cloud
reality merge. This paper analyzes the myriad forces that are driving perceptality and the future computing; edge computing;
of geospatial intelligence and presents real-world implications and examples of its industrial geospatial data
application. Applications of sensors, robotics, cameras, machine learning, encryption, cloud
computing and other software, and hardware intelligence are converging, enabling new ways
for organizations and their equipment to perceive and capture reality. Meanwhile, demands
for performance, reliability, and security are pushing compute to the edge where real-time
processing and coordination are vital. Big data place new restraints on economics, as pressures
abound to actually use these data, both in real-time and for longer term strategic analysis and
decision-making. These challenges require orchestration between information technology (IT)
and operational technology (OT) and synchronization of diverse systems, data-sets, devices,
environments, workflows, and people.

1. Introduction: perceptality and convergence cyber manifestations; it underlies the digital transfor-
of digital and physical worlds mation of industry and society.
Of course, long before the digital age, humans were
Since the dawn of human history, our ability to make
using technology to capture raw data information in the
informed decisions about the world around us has been
field, at the edge. Centuries ago, surveyors traveled to
one driven by perception; perception of personal rela-
remote locations and used papyrus to record angles and
tivity and importance. Since the dawn of computing,
ranges to depict topography, then paper, and later ticker
the digital world has remained, well, digital data in
tape. Extracting information directly from and about
boxes, hard-drives, servers, rarely integrated or analyzed
the physical world has been central to industrial and
within any larger context. For years, the physical world
societal development. Figure 1 depicts a few examples
remained largely separated from the digital world, tech-
of geospatial technologies over the centuries.
nology from business, information technology (IT) from
Hexagon has been a pioneer of capturing data from
operational technology (OT). However, the pace of tech-
the edge long before networked devices and connectiv-
nological advancement is finally unifying these worlds.
ity. Early development of communications equipment
The discipline inherent in capturing the physical
and antennae helped us shape the trajectory for mobile
dimension of this intersection is the field of geospatial
phones and radios. Our repertoire of metrology tech-
intelligence. This includes the perception, cognition, com-
nologies like laser scanners, portable measuring arms,
putation, control, reaction, and understanding of physi-
calipers, theodolites, tomography, allowed us to redefine
cal features and geographically referenced activities. As
precision and quality assurance for industrial manufac-
technology has evolved alongside this field, capabilities
turing. From micro-precision to geospatial dimension-
in these six areas have transformed how we use tools to
ing, our software and hardware innovations in the early
shape change.
2000s pioneered intelligent mapping, spatial awareness,
Perceptality, is the convergence of perception and
structural monitoring, and industrial plant control and
reality, a term we have coined at Hexagon. It is the merg-
ing of the digital and physical worlds; the inevitable
As Moores Law has forced down computation costs
fusion of real life, objects, and environments with their
and size constraints, we continued to accelerate our

CONTACT Juergen Dold

2017 Wuhan University. Published by Taylor & Francis Group.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted
use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Figure 1.Geospatial technology has evolved over the ages.

technological capabilities to capture physical real- Enabling perceptality is not just about the transition
ity with even greater precision. For years now, we from digitized endpoints to fully digitalized workflows
have deployed LiDARs, inertial navigation systems, and interactions; it is about seamlessly capturing reality
multi-laser systems, precision 3D scanners, integration and empowering these interactions at the far edges of
with Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), and the network.
many other measurement technologies. With advance-
ments in machine learning, we now use 3D model gen- 2. Shift to the edge
erators, robotic total stations, multi-imaging sensors,
and all manner of computer vision techniques. These When we reflect upon the development and evolution of
capabilities have helped us deliver unprecedented per- the Internet, what quickly emerges is the ever-evolving
ception and cognition applications across agriculture, direction of network topology and computing archi-
mining, construction, government, transportation, tecture. The Internet was born of the mainframe era, a
and security by creating digital replicas of physical centralized architecture in which a large high-speed pro-
realities. cessing and memory unit supported multiple worksta-
When organizations can mirror physical realities in tions. With the rise of personal computers (PCs) and the
the digital world, the capacity for agile and intelligence need for distributed workstations, business logic, simple
decision-making is redefined. Situational awareness data, and interfaces to operate as one networked system,
sharpens and expands, and change detection accelerates. the clientserver model emerged. For more than two
Precision and accuracy become more granular than ever decades, this model prevailed, until the massive trans-
before, which reduces error and waste, mitigates risk formation of user interface and computational power
and uncertainty, and enables greater speed, reliability, enabled the age of mobile.
productivity, safety and security. Centralized cloud computing marked another shift
Although critical sectors like engineering, manu- back to centralized network topology, and the profound
facturing, agriculture, and others have been increasing scale it enabled. Indeed, cloud computing architectures,
their adoption of sensor technology and software sys- software-as-a-service (SaaS) products, and innumerable
tems, many applications remain siloed, disconnected apps have transformed the way billions of people live,
from other data-sets or stakeholders, and generally navigate, work, bank, and communicate, and interact
lagging in returns on investment. In order to fully in society. To enable mobile functionality, flexibility,
realize this potential, current models for computing efficiency, and ubiquitous adoption, cloud computing
must shift. has emerged as the de facto, centralized architecture

Figure 2.The evolution of computing architecture.


supporting mobile devices. However, the pace of techno- 2.1. Practical forces driving connected industries
logical innovation is yet again, inspiring a pivot. Figure 2 to live on the edge
depicts the shifts between centralized and distributed
Just as economic and industrial forces have been awak-
compute over the past few decades.
ening to digital disruption, where cloud computing,
With each new era, the total addressable market
mobile, and social are redefining operations and busi-
both users and machines nodes expands exponen-
ness models, another, far greater wave of disruption
tially. The number of users in the height of the main-
is emerging. What are today, centralized structures
frame age was around 10 million; this number swelled
organizational, computational, communications are
to 2B (B means billion) with the advent of the PC; today
quietly undergoing a seismic shift toward decentralized
there are roughly 4 billion mobile devices (Statista 2017).
and distributed systems. There are a number of forces
When sensors pervade any and every object in the phys-
driving the shift from cloud to edge.
ical world, the number of connected endpoints will once
again, grow exponentially.
2.2. From big data to colossal data
The gravity of so much data generated by so many
endpoints has rendered centralized computing topolo- First, it continues to be true that we have created more
gies inadequate. With the push from cloud services and data in the last two years than in all of human history
pull from a rapidly expanding number of connected combined. In 1992, global internet traffic accounted for
endpoints, the so-called edge of the network must 100GB per day (Cisco 2017), and in 2015, that number
transform, from pure data generation to intelligence hit 15 billion GB per day. The digital universe is doubling
generation. Figure 3 offers an overview of where compu- in size every 12months (Cloud Times 2014). By 2020, it
tation and analytics take place depending on application is expected to reach some 44 zetabytes what some scien-
and power requirements. tists estimate to be more bytes in the digital universe than

Figure 3.Agility and execution at the edge; learning and innovation in the cloud.

there are stars in the physical universe (IDC and EMC2 so that performance is unfazed, and data are quickly
2014). transferred to the cloud once grounded.

2.3. Performance and energy constraints 2.4. Security and reliability requirements
The problem with so much data is that existing infra- Enabling perceptality in industry must prioritize secu-
structure simply cannot handle the rates or the volumes. rity and reliability. Securing assets, infrastructure, peo-
The proliferation of devices is collecting vast amounts ple, and ensuring reliability in workflows, to the greatest
of data and these data need to be processed in real time, extent possible. Moreover, it is foundational to delivering
a feat hardly achievable with centralized networks, lim- quality of service, supporting certain economic chan-
ited bandwidth, and cloud infrastructure. To the extent nels, and most importantly, instilling safety and confi-
high volume data and content are processed to the dence in systems themselves.
cloud today, it places tremendous cost pressures and Edge computing also impacts security, and in some
constraints in the form of bandwidth, latency, storage, applications, privacy. For one, the decentralized nature
energy, or raw computational power. In distributed envi- of edge networks reduces emphasis on the cloud or cen-
ronments, so-called peer to peer networks are utilized tral premise as a core centralized computing environ-
to lessen the load on core networks and share data locally ment. In many instances, such hub and spoke models
(Shi et al. 2016). This is a key enabler for digitalizing are more vulnerable to bottleneck or failure than are dis-
energy-constrained environments. tributed ones where no single node will necessarily take
Many Internet of Things (IoT) edge sensors, particu- down the entire network. Secondly, when data encrypted
larly in industrial settings, must be equipped to operate on the device moves closer to the core, security points,
in regions of low connectivity, and often for years on the firewalls, or other checkpoints identify any tampering
same battery. Even when energy harvesting is possible, more quickly. Finally, in some instances, such as in a
power budgets for these devices are a function of pro- smart city context, keeping sensitive data altogether on
cessing capacity. In remote environments, when nodes devices reduces the likelihood malicious actors will pen-
require high-energy currents to both stay active (ie con- etrate it, since it is generally far easier to penetrate cen-
tinue sensing, measuring, interpreting) and transmit tralized enterprise IT systems (via malware or phishing,
data, enterprises face a trade-off between power versus for example) than it is to edge nodes scattered through-
performance efficiencies. For data-intensive devices, like out an environment.
video cameras or audio feeds, capabilities to fully har- Even when assets face minimal security threat, reli-
ness these data have historically been extremely limited. ability is key. Certain remote environments will inev-
Although sensing technology itself is advancing rapidly, itably have poor connectivity, others highly uncertain
firmware and CPU designs typically determine power conditions, and others where performance has life-
consumption, sleep currents, performance, peripheral or-death consequences. Risking latency to the cloud is
functionality, and processing speed. not an option. In geospatial applications, it is imperative
In industrial and mission-critical environments, not only to capture data from the edge, but also to extract
especially the inherent latency in connecting to the value from that data to function with precision, to mon-
cloud render such a centralized model inadequate, even itor safety in spatial layouts, or to alert users of hazard.
unsafe. Adjacent technologies in peer-to-peer energy
transmission, storage, data compression, and potentially 2.5. From data collection to intelligence and
distributed ledgers architectures will influence perfor- decision-making
mance, by enabling more seamless integration between
physical and digital events such as transactions, energy As the digitization of society and industry generate
distribution, and authentication. unfathomable amounts of data, pressures abound to
This level of data volume and performance demands actually use these data. The integration of digital and
sophisticated data management techniques at every part physical is not only for accelerating and automating real-
of the stack, even within edge devices. Geospatial appli- time applications, but for decision-making and improve-
cations, for example, are no stranger to demands physical ment over time. Despite so much data, IDC and others
conditions place on computing. In technology origi- estimate some 8090% of enterprise data is dark data
nally developed in collaboration with NASA, Hexagon i.e. data that organizations collect, process, and store,
offers a single photon LiDAR product which allows 10 but never actually use (Technopedia 2017). The push to
times greater efficient data processing (of more than a capitalize on what is today (mostly) underleveraged data
1TB per hour) for airborne applications over any sort is one of the biggest reasons applications are demand-
of terrain, day or night (Hexagon Geosystems 2017a). ing intelligence at the edge. After all, investments spent
Additional onboard airborne sensors to support faster to digitalize processes and equipment require business
compute by compressing giant data-sets during flight justification.

Figure 4.Business benefits of edge computing.

Increasing performance and analytics at the edge 3.2. Application of sensors on any and every
instead of constantly using resources to communicate thing giving our world a digital nervous system
data back to the cloud has a number of subsequent ben-
IoT automates operations by automatically gather-
efits, as depicted in Figure 4.
ing information about physical assets such as devices,
This confluence of massive volumes and variety of
machines, equipment, vehicles, infrastructure, facili-
data, the imperative for real-time, agile, and sustaina-
ties, and so on. Visibility into status and behaviors ena-
ble processing, the deep need to actually leverage these
bles optimization of control, processes, and resources.
data, signals yet another twist in the evolution of net-
Sensors enable devices to capture the physical reality of
work topology: Real-time data processing and service
things through a wide range of functions. Commonly
execution will reside at the edge that is, on the device
used sensors, often simultaneously applied to the same
while advanced machine intelligence, learning, and
object, are depicted in Figure 5.
longer term service innovation will develop in the cloud.
The modern smartphone for example, has between 8
and 11 sensors, capturing everything from where devices
3. Myriad technological advancements and their users go (GPS), to when devices are held to
accelerate shift to capture reality the ear (gyrometer), to identifiable biometrics (finger-
It is not just broader trends around data volumes, pro- print), to how fast the phone is moving (accelerometer).
cessing and utilization that are fostering the sea change However, these sensors are not so new. Hexagons geospa-
in network topology; the diverse and rapid pace of tech- tial applications have been using sensors in conjunction
nological innovation is accelerating the shift toward edge with technologies like LiDAR, radar, GNSS, inertial navi-
processing as well. Indeed, more than any single tech- gation (INS), and simultaneous localization and mapping
nology, it is the inevitable confluence of the following (SLAM) systems for years. Whats new is the application
wherein lies the greatest prospect for disruption. of these sensors and systems to enable new commercial
categories like self-driving vehicles or robotics.
3.1. Capturing things through sensors and IoT At present, there are an estimated 17.6B connected
devices online (IHS 2017). In 2016 alone, some 4B more
When we add sensors to something, we grant that connected devices came online. That number is fore-
thing object, vehicle, machine, infrastructure, any casted to reach between 20B and 30B within just four
thing the ability to communicate about itself, and years (IEEE Spectrum 2017). Manufacturers are adding
very often their patterns of use or users themselves. For sensing technology to everything from toys to turbines,
years, organizations have been placing sensors on heavy cows to coffee makers, and all manners of machinery,
machinery and vehicles, but within the last five years, appliances, wearables, and far beyond. We are laying the
sharp declines in cost and significant improvements foundation for ubiquitous sensing networks; the interop-
in connectivity have ushered in a new era of pervasive erability and crowdsourcing of vast networks of profes-
sensor application. Ubiquitous sensors, connectivity, sional and non-professional sensors sensing all manner
and networked services, often coined IoT, is redefin- of dimension, any place and any time.
ing business and societys visibility into, and therefore The rise of sensing technology is significant, not only for
understanding of, the physical world. the visibility, reality-capture, and new services it enables,

Figure 5.Sensors digitally capture reality of physical objects.

but for the massive amounts of data sensors will generate. around for years, it is the advent of artificial intelligence
Consider one example from one connected object in one (AI) and algorithmically trained learning software that
industry: a single autonomous car will generate 1GB of shifts understanding of the physical world from humans-
data per second; an estimated 2 petabytes of data per car only to machines.
per year (Datafloq 2017). The future of geospatial intelli-
gence is about leveraging these data to perceive, compute, 3.4. Put simply machines can now perceive
analyze, collaborate, learn from, and shape real change. spatial reality on their own
What are essentially advanced algorithms able to detect
3.3. Capturing perception through machine patterns, learn about them, and recommend outcomes,
learning and computer vision are responsible for hundreds of new use cases. What
Thanks to recent breakthroughs in hardware speed and follows is a list of applications that are transforming
significant improvements in algorithms, machine learn- computational capabilities for perceiving the physical
ing and artificial intelligence fields that have existed (pri- world in diverse ways.
marily in academia) for decades, but were handicapped by
Satellite imagery for geoanalytics
inadequate compute power and oversold expectations
Object detection, navigation, and search
are suddenly undergoing a rapid resurgence.
Localization and mapping
Artificial intelligence is an umbrella term for a range
Motion detection
of algorithmically trained perception-capable computing
Weather forecasting
models, including machine learning, computer vision,
Sensor data fusion in machinery
natural language processing, deep learning, robotics,
Collaborative robots
planning, and beyond. Advancements in augmented
and virtual realities, wherein media can be contextually Hundreds of new use cases emerge when advanced
overlaid on physical or virtual spaces will also accel- algorithms are trained to detect, classify, and navigate
erate demand for automated geospatial intelligence in objects, features, and patterns. For many applications,
real time. While plenty of hardware and equipment like rich data generation requires intelligence at the edge.
cameras, LiDARs, radars, satellites, and countless other Through its work in industrial environments, Hexagon
instruments used for spatial measurement have been has led the development of advanced edge-enabled

Figure 6.Hexagons Leica Nova: a self-learning total station automatically detects, measures, and models environments from the

equipment, not just for onboard data processing, but Machine learning is the catalyst for harnessing the
learning and adaptation as well. current and oncoming onslaught of data from the digiti-
For instance, its self-learning total stations (shown in zation of machines and the physical world. Put simply, if
Figure 6) can be used in even the harshest environments machine learning did not exist, we would have to create it.
to automatically adapt to local situations by separating Sophisticated modeling techniques such as sen-
relevant system reflectors from other reflectors on the job sor data fusion, situational forecasting, behavior and
site. The robotic total solution, for instance, automatically scenario simulation, autonomous agent-based deci-
searches, aims and follows targets, collects measurements, sion-making are just a few examples of how constructs
stakes, and defines the area of hundreds or thousands like deep learning and neural network architectures are
of points. The software on these devices turns complex helping enterprises:
data into workable 3D models right from the field, while
Harness their dark data
working in conjunction with cloud-based software for
Process unstructured data
deeper data mining and modeling back in the office.
Learn from their data
Hexagons IMAGINE Photogrammetry product is
Better analyze their data in conjunction with other
used in numerous geospatial applications for real-time
sources (eg third-party, disparate sensors)
object recognition and machine vision. For instance,
Predict anomalies, malfunction, corruption, even
simple applications like scanning floorplans help
security threats
quickly delineate boundaries with extreme precision.
Simulate outcomes without risk
This same distributed processing and on-board machine
Detect patterns, interdependencies, relationships
vision is also used in more complex applications like
beyond human mental bandwidth (or bias)
filtering moving objects in a street view scene for nav-
igation, safety, and autonomous decision-making. When combined with high-accuracy sensing for
When machines themselves are suddenly able to positioning intelligence, dynamic situational awareness,
autonomously perceive the world around them, the and multi-data-set contextual insights, unprecedented
costs, latency, distance, and unreliability of cloud con- mobility solutions emerge. Hexagons work in industries
nectivity no longer suffices. Referring back to our exam- like mining and agriculture have led to the development
ple of a self-driving vehicle, driving, navigation, and of edge intelligence capable of autonomously grading
object detection data must be processed locally as even terrain to integrate this information into real-time work-
the tiniest amount of latency can be a matter of life or flows as well as planning and resource allocation. Such
death. This reiterates another important driver of edge machine-level vision is foundational to fully autono-
computing: mission-criticality. mous mining or farming operations.
The gravitational pull of data processing at the edge
3.5. Capturing intelligence through big data
means the edge takes on a share of intelligence all its
learning and synchronization
own. When the cloud serves as the training center,
Although capturing physical objects through sensing handling deeper, ongoing learning, simulation, and
technology and machine perception is demanding com- recommendation, the edge point of access (device)
putational agility and reliability at the edge, a far greater becomes the object of improvement and update. These
driver of this technological decentralization is making updates could come in the form of software updates or
sense of data at scale. Not only does the volume, velocity, patches delivering better sensing, smarter data curation,
and variety of data demand more real-time and agile more accurate inferences, more automated actions and
processing, so too does the need to learn from it. decision-making.

Figure 7.Cloud-edge feedback loop.

As depicted in Figure 7, the feedback loop between Consider the diverse endpoints in a mining
cloud and device accelerates performance, reliability, environment:
and more efficient data processing over time. Through
Inside mine and outside mine
sensors that capture the world as-is or as-built and soft-
Assets like stockpiles, instruments, and other
ware that interprets the captured data, organizations are
able to better manage real conditions and take immedi-
Mobile devices, tablets, workstations, etc.
ate action. With accurate and up-to-date digital depic-
Vehicles such as trucks and tractors
tions of whats going on in the real world, they are able
Satellites, cameras, and antennae
to derive insight, ask relevant questions and manage
Workers on-site and off
extensive and complex enterprise-wide information.
Conditions (eg roads, weather)
Reducing the time between information extraction
All workflows, communications, connectivity, ana-
and data-informed action is the foundation for shaping
lytics, interoperability, etc.
smart change.

4. Advanced industrial applications illustrate 4.1.1. Challenge: lack of integration and

imperative and opportunity connectivity stifles digging deep
Extractive industries such as mining generate enormous
The accelerated and intelligent convergence of digital amounts of geospatial data, but they are often remote
and real-world reality capture perceptality will be and therefore access to these data can hinder analy-
empowered by distributed computing on the edge and sis and action. The challenge in mining is thus one of
value-added in the cloud. For many industrial con- managing complex engineering information, constantly
texts, edge computing is the enabler to reliability, risk changing, sometimes unpredictable landscapes, and
mitigation, situational awareness, and synchronicity coordinating information across disparate stakeholders
across the production chain. Hexagons legacy in geospa- and environments. Given the diversity of mining oper-
tial awareness, metrology, and data management in the ations, mining has traditionally had to rely on an array
real world have rewarded us the expertise and opportu- of point solutions as patches to disparate problems. Not
nity to orchestrate connectivity, data fusion, and reliable only is the circulation of information fragmented when,
process automation across incredibly complex industrial for instance, there is one solution for blast management,
environments. What follows are three case examples of another for fleet management, another for environmen-
environments in which edge networking is transforming tal monitoring, but also too are the hidden relationships
capabilities for Hexagon customers. and insights when these data and capabilities are not
4.1. Smart digital mine
4.1.2. Solution: mining for insights keeping data on
Mining is an ancient and essential industry for extraction the surface
of minerals or other geological materials and resources The solution to more productive, safe, and intelligent
from the earth to sustain populations and infrastructure. mining is not just about integration, but about powering
However, in an environment handling precious natural nodes at the edge to reliably and efficiently transmit
resources, it has never been more important to channel these data. It is critical that stakeholders have the power
(big and small) data in a way that maximizes its useful- and mobility to search and analyze these data from any
ness in real-time, when and where it is needed. application and in a disconnected mode. Our experience

in this industry finds that what mines really need is an 4.2. Smart digital construction project
integrated solution uniting surveying, design, fleet man-
Construction is the process of building infrastructure.
agement, production optimization, and collision avoid-
While construction companies are accelerating their
ance together in a life-of-mine solution that connects
adoption of information technologies to help manage
people and processes and augments safety, productivity,
the complexities inherent in their work, many tools have
and decision-making.
remained in disparate silos and efforts have proven to be
Forward-thinking mining companies are using
more disruptive than helpful or cost-effective.
powerful positioning intelligence technologies such
as GNSS, LiDAR, antennae, satellites, GIS data, image
4.2.1. Challenge: laying the groundwork for
detection, and navigation software to capture and map
coordinated construction
real-time environmental dynamics. Remote sensing
Mid-size and large-scale construction and infrastructure
monitors and communicates about difficult or dan-
projects are some of the most complex endeavors to coor-
gerous to reach areas, determining surface features,
dinate. The largest projects often require years of planning
vegetation variation, changes in infrastructure, even
and execution and involve thousands of people, tens of
pinpointing the location of mineral outcroppings or
thousands of interdependent tasks, and millions, if not
suspect disturbances. Our fatigue monitoring system
billions, of dollars of investment. Regardless of size, every
is an operator-friendly, unobtrusive monitoring and
construction project is unique and demands extensive
alert system that uses on-board algorithms to assess
orchestration, beginning with strategic design, preparing
current and eventual driver fatigue levels to improve
the construction plan, budgeting, communicating detailed
driver safety, prevent vehicle incidents, and improve
instructions, tracking variances, coordinating teams and
mining productivity. (Hexagon Geosystems 2017b).
workflows. Plans for successful outcomes are often com-
In mining applications relying on satellite data, GNSS
promised by lack of clear scope, incomplete designs, data
systems are preconfigured to constantly select the most
entry errors for estimating and scheduling, never mind
appropriate positioning methods depending on which
the realities of unexpected events or limitations. These
satellite and communication constellations are most
projects are almost always subject to delays and cost over-
readily available in the area of operation.
runs that erode both profitability and reputation.
Generating actionable reports from these data is also
central. Through integration, advanced modeling, and
powerful 3D visualization tools, these same technolo- 4.2.2. Solution: clarity, connectivity, and simplicity
gies help miners see across large areas. For example, from the ground up
through repeated intervals of multi-spectral imagery, Any modern construction site and its output must be
miner can measure changes to entire pits, quantify and designed to function as a large-scale information system.
monitor stock piles, the amount of hectares disturbed, As such, edge computation is a requirement for agile con-
even manage contracts scheduled. Combining image, nection, real-time service, data optimization, application
sensor, and mapping data, these systems create land use intelligence, as well as security and privacy protection.
or land cover maps, help ensure compliance with gov- Today, the intelligent construction is about coordinating
ernmental stands, and help lower fees on disturbance. endpoints from the ground up, from day one.
They aid in operational and environmental safety, and Numerous Hexagon clients leverage our expertise and
more agile coordination across teams, ensuring mine SMARTBuild solution to connect all relevant project
planning and operations stakeholders have access to the information from CAD drawings, 3D models, speci-
latest full-picture data integrated across endpoints and fications, schedules, materials, workflows, and instruc-
workflows. tions, to devices, machinery, and so on, to the thousands
of people employed on the project the millions of tasks
4.1.3. Impact: unearthing datas potential to manage. Advanced geospatial techniques sometimes
Broadly speaking, these technologies impact miners by: offer new solutions to old problems: in one customer
example, construction engineers used high-accuracy
Integrating and communicating what and where camera data to position drilling machines on both
change has occurred sides of the mountain so that the tunnels from both
Producing maps and reports for collaboration as sides meet in the middle with centimeter accuracy. By
well as compliance feeding construction models and layout points to robot
Integrating data into advanced modeling systems total stations, builders can streamline the process from
for mine planning and operations planning to execution, quickly and accurately locating
Determining any long-term effects to environment building elements they need. Communication at the
Optimizing costs and efficiency through work- edge between devices, machines, people, and processes
flow optimization, risk mitigation, and maximum is essential for identifying issues or anomalies in order
output to take corrective action before costlier problems arise.

Figure 8.Smart construction.

Consider the diverse endpoints in a construction envi- Simplifies creation and management of workflows
ronment, some of which are depicted in Figure 8. suitable for any project environment, including
BIM-compliant projects
On-site and outside-of-site
Avoid errors in the field and mitigate costly reworks
Assets like building materials, metrology instru-
by having integrated workplans able to delivering
ments, and other equipment
detailed directions on work execution
Mobile devices, tablets, workstations, etc.
Vehicles such as trucks, cranes, loaders, and
bulldozers 4.3. The smart digital plant
Scanners, robotics total stations, satellites, cameras,
and antennae Plants are often legacy infrastructure constructions,
Workers on-site and off requiring extensive re-engineering, rehabilitation, and
Conditions (eg ground, roads, and weather) high financial and safety risks to maintain. It is not just
All workflows, communications, connectivity, ana- digitizing every element of plant assets and facilities, but
lytics, interoperability, etc. fusing these digital and physical realities to accelerate
efficiency and ongoing optimization.
Capturing and intuitively visualizing these data are
key for empowering role-based, BIM-compliant informa- 4.3.1. Challenge: disorganized legacy information
tion-sharing to estimate, model, and track actual costs and hinders digital transformation
specs against RFIs and changes in order to mitigate risks. Before addressing the challenges associated with con-
Project engineers can rely on connectivity and readily nectivity and coordination across assets, many plant
access data collected from every part of the job site; stake- operators must address core issues of legacy informa-
holders and executives benefit from a centralized reposi- tion management. Data and documents may have been
tory of designs, models, documents, and other materials, created across decades of the facilitys life cycle, being
making it easier to manage projects in progress, avoid sourced from various contractors using different design
errors, and improve safety, efficiency, and profit margins. and data management tools and standards. Some doc-
Ultimately, what begins as a digital construction project, uments may only exist in hardcopy. And there may be
enabled by agile information flow, lays the foundation for dozens of versions (or even multiple copies of the same
the output, a digital asset that is an intelligent building. version) of any given document, drawings, model, list, or
datasheet in various locations, making it unclear which
4.2.3. Impact: smart building enables smarter version accurately represents the current configura-
buildings tion. With limited engineering, administrative, and IT
Our experience finds that a solution to power this level personnel on a brownfield site, organizing and keeping
of coordination augments efficiency and improves profit track of this legacy information is a significant challenge,
margins in the following ways: especially when the operational asset is subject to con-
Single solution for real-time tracking, managing, tinual updates, revamps, shutdowns, and maintenance
and reporting of time, machinery, materials, work- changes.
ers, performance, progress, forecasts, budgets, etc. As a result, information is difficult to find when it
Less or no need for complicated and expensive is needed most, such as for shutdown planning, pro-
software and plug-ins thanks to end-to-end con- ject evaluation, incident investigation, modifications,
struction management solution incorporating all revamps, compliance audits, and facility start-up.
endpoints, edge devices, and workflows Unstructured, unreliable information undermines

control and exposes the owner operator to significant Increases safety and regulatory compliance through
operational, financial, and safety risks. timely access to information
Enables off-site access and team collaboration,
4.3.2. Solution: take control of unstructured data avoiding travel costs and hazards associated with
structuring on-facility work
What many industrial plant operators need is a solu- Fastest way to establish a single point of access to
tion to find, capture, organize, link, and visualize large all engineering information
volumes of engineering data and documents. Although
information management has been around for years, To meet market, productivity, and safety require-
compiling these assets together through a data fusion ments, organizations are using new tools to monitor
program allows plants to actually use technical infor- and detect change and anomaly across just about every
mation and make meaning from unstructured data aspect of industrial environments, infrastructure, and
so they can start to manage it, and consequently their operations. Environmental and infrastructure awareness
operations, more efficiently. Hexagons SmartPlant is not just about capturing sensor data and imagery, but
Fusion solution employs dedicated readers for database feeding these data into programs and workflows for a
processing and optical character recognition (OCR) in comprehensive view and what happened, what is hap-
order to produce searchable platforms of drawing, doc- pening, where, when, why, and triggering or automating
uments, 3D models, laser scans, and other essential tools actions and reports for optimization.
for capturing spatial realities of plant environments. Part
of this includes integrated GEO scanning software which 5.Conclusions
creates realistic 3D spatial representations of every asset
The singularity of perception and reality relies on distrib-
and every facility which are then linked to respective
uted computing to capture reality and shape intelligent
drawings, specs, datasheets, and operating manuals.
change. A true industry pioneer in the worlds leading
This creates unique virtual digital assets to replicate the
geospatial and metrology technologies and concepts,
physical reality in the field.
Hexagon supports the perception, cognition, computa-
Once assets are digitized, sourced, organized, and
tion, control, reaction, and most importantly, learning
organizational intelligence is brought up to speed, plants
from diverse digital perceptions of physical realities
benefit significantly from the savings that follow. For
one, time is saved as engineering information is readily
Shaping change in industrial environments is about
digitized, fabricated within 3mm accuracy, and acces-
enabling (digital and workflow) connectivity, integrat-
sible, rather that disparate, detached, and disorganized.
ing tools, automating workflows, coordinating diverse
A solution with integrated virtual models helps mitigate
nodes and needs for usable data visualization, and most
labor risks associated with relying on the wrong reference
importantly, transforming organizational currency from
information or inadequate training. Most importantly,
raw data to true geospatial intelligence.
when all (sometimes decades of information about)
assets, sensory information, infrastructure, and work-
flows are online, plant operators can more efficiently Acknowledgments
and accurately model their requirements, whether for The authors would like to thank the following persons for
ongoing decision-making or organizing documentation their inputs and assistance in the development of this work:
for engineering, procurement, and construction and Burkhardt Boeckem, John Welter, Kristen Christensen,
rehabilitation projects. Patrick Holcomb, Kelli Montgomery, Christopher Fitzgerald,
Sophia Lorroque, and Janina Torres.
4.3.3. Impact: from unintelligent and offline to
smart plant fusion Funding
Owners and operators gain the visibility and value of
This work was supported by Hexagon AB, a global provider
digitizing workflows; engineers, maintenance personnel
of information technologies for geospatial and industrial
working around plants can now have quick, ready access enterprises.
to critical information when they need it. This engenders
numerous benefits:
Notes on contributors
Modernize by bringing analog information into
real-time empirical decision-making Juergen Dold is the president of Hexagon Geosystems, and
Reduces time and effort required to find and vali- has been a part of Hexagon since 1995. Before his time at
Hexagon, he served as an academic counsel at Technical
date engineering documents
University of Braunschweig, Germany, and in various man-
Discover otherwise hidden (or costly-to-obtain) agement positions within Leica Geosystems. He holds a
content and insights Master of Science and PhD in engineering.

Jessica Groopman is an industry analyst specializing in the about-us/news-room/news-overview/2017/02/2017-02-

Internet of Things, and emerging software intelligence and 13-new-leica-spl100-brings-up-to-10x-more-efficiency-
database architectures that support ubiquitous connectivity. to-airborne-lidar-mapping
Groopman is a principal analyst with Tractica where she Hexagon Geosystems. 2017b. Fatigue Monitor. Hexagon
covers artificial intelligence and blockchain. She has served Mining. Accessed March 11, 2017. http://hexagonmining.
as a research director and a principal analyst with Harbor com/products/all-products/fatiguemonitor
Research, and before, as a lead IoT analyst with Altimeter IDC and EMC2. 2014. The Digital Universe of Opportunities:
Group. Prior to business and technology research, her Rich Data and the Increasing Value of the Internet of
research career began with academic anthropological field Things. Accessed February 17, 2017. https://www.emc.
work in ethnographic, linguistic, and archaeological research com/leadership/digital-universe/2014iview/executive-
both in the United States and abroad. summary.htm
IEEE Spectrum. 2017. Popular Internet of Things Forecast
of 50 Billion Devices by 2020 is Outdated. Accessed
References February 23, 2017.
Cisco. 2017. The Zettabyte Era: Trends and Analysis. Ciscos 50-billion-devices-by-2020-is-outdated
Visual Networking Index (VNI). Accessed February 17, IHS. 2017. The Evolving Internet of Things. IHS Markit.
2017. Accessed February 23, 2017. https://technology.ihs.
service-provider/visual-networking-index-vni/vni- com/577019
hyperconnectivity-wp.html Shi, W., J. Cao, Q. Zhang, Y. Li, and L. Xu. 2016. Edge
Cloud Times. 2014. Internet of Things Will Multiple the Computing: Vision and Challenges. IEEE Internet of
Digital Universe Data to 44 Trillion GBs by 2020. Accessed Things Journal 3 (5): 637646. Accessed February 12, 2017.
February 17, 2017.
internet-of-things-will-multiply-the-digital-universe- computing.pdf
data-to-44-trillion-gbs-by-2020/ Statista. 2017. Number of Mobile Phone Users Worldwide
Datafloq. 2017. Self-driving Cars Will Create 2 Petabytes of from 2013 to 2019. Accessed February 17, 2017. https://
Data, What are the Opportunities for the Car Industry?
Accessed February 21, 2017. phone-users-worldwide/
self-driving-cars-create-2-petabytes-data-annually/172 Technopedia. 2017. What is Dark Data? Accessed February
Hexagon Geosystems. 2017a. New Leica SPO100 brings 17, 2017.
up to 10 more efficiency to airborne LiDAR mapping. dark-data
Accessed February 13, 2017.