Op-Ed: There’s A Leadership Void In Addressing Critical Geospatial Issues

Kevin Pomfret | Nextgov | November 11, 2013

Last month, nearly 1,000 global government and industry representatives from around the world attended a Mexico-hosted conference on the economic, societal and governmental benefits of geospatial technology. Notably absent were U.S. government officials. That same week, U.S. officials postponed the nation’s largest intelligence event of the year -- the GEOINT conference -- because the government shutdown precluded U.S. officials from attending.

While the government shutdown torpedoed U.S. officials’ participation in both events, their disengagement from the geospatial community reflects a worrisome trend with real economic impacts.   
The geospatial industry is estimated to generate $74 billion in annual revenue and employ hundreds of thousands of workers. The industry provides images aiding public safety and urban planning. Hi-resolution images are also critical for addressing transnational issues, such as climate change, and are the foundation for future advancements such as intelligent transportation systems and smart grids.

Historically, the United States has taken an active role in promoting the development of civilian and commercial applications that rely on geoinformation. In 1994, the White House actively promoted U.S. interests in commercial remote sensing, the industry that provides the hi-resolution images upon which mapping services such as Google Earth depend. [...]