Why geospatial holds the key to the UK’s post-Brexit industrial revolution

Last week’s decision by Prime Minister Theresa May to call a snap General Election in June, underlines the government’s growing understanding of just how complex and difficult the whole Brexit process is going to be.  It is something that most businesses already know; life outside the European Union is going to be tough and will require some pretty radical reshaping of current processes and practices. More efficient “business as usual” simply isn’t going to cut it. We need an industrial revolution to boost UK productivity and ensure our future in the new world market.

Fortunately, as we will see clearly at the forthcoming GEO Business event in London next month, the built environment sector is already striking out ahead and embracing this new opportunity. The use of digital technologies, new data analytical software and advanced visualisation tools has already begun to transform the solid but comparatively low tech world of surveying.

As a result, the geospatial engineering sector has emerged onto the built environment scene. The clamour by clients for new ways to deliver and manage infrastructure at less cost means the industry has accelerated forward and further up the infrastructure value chain. The key to this new industry’s growth is the ability to blend techniques and technologies for capturing and translating geo-locatable information with new software and processes that, crucially, can action that data and create new value from it.  In a post-Brexit world, it is an industry that, already standing head and shoulders above its global competitors, will be fundamental to the UK future success.

A quick glance at the GEO Business exhibitor list, conference and workshop programmes demonstrate how the sector can and does offer the kind of innovation that will not only underpin the efficiency of the UK’s infrastructure but that will also be sought out and bought by others around the world.  It is in many ways an example of the sort of new industries that the UK must continue to develop and nurture going forward if we are, as the Prime Minister so passionately asserts, to make a success of Brexit.

But more than that, the emergence of a new data enabled and digitally modelled built environment, underpinned by the geospatial sector and its innovative technologies, is also set to transform, by association, many other hitherto traditional sectors. It is a transformation that will have the power to create the new globally leading industries that will be needed to shore up the UK’s position in the new, post-EU world order.

In particular, emerging industries such as the renewable energy sector have the potential to leap forward in terms of constructability, deliverability and operational efficiency when partnered with the kind of data enable technologies being developed by the geospatial sector. Hitherto, a sector held back by high cost and unreliable delivery, the new ability to model and visualise the asset brings benefits in design and delivery cycle. But crucially, geospatial technology also enables a step change in consistency, predictability and thus efficiency throughout the revenue critical intensive operational lifecycle.

Similarly, across many other growing but currently quite traditional sectors such as urban transport and development, security and defence or water and utility management we will also see geospatial technology transform business models. The power to model, visualise, constantly monitor infrastructure assets and so consistently react to changing conditions across the UK built environment will truly have the power to create industrial revolution and redefine the way we manage our built environment and thus the way that we provide services to communities.

It is an opportunity that these industries must appreciate and react to, and that equally, the geospatial sector must understand and encourage.

Life after Brexit is full of uncertainty and so must be approached from the perspective of embracing change and investing in innovation. Geospatial engineers, without question, stand at the apex of this new world opportunity, ready to redefine and future proof the UK’s built environment and create the world beating industries we need to succeed.


GEO Business 2017, 23 – 24 May 2017, Business Design Centre, London UK

The geospatial event for everyone involved in the gathering, storing, processing and delivery of geospatial information. Incorporating an international trade exhibition, a cutting edge conference and a programme of live commercial workshops sessions, featuring the technology and services used by those working with spatial data.

Click here to register


This article was written by independent editorial expert and journalist Antony Oliver, who regularly contributes industry content for GEObuzz. Find Antony on Twitter @_Antonyoliver_

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Sophie Potten, Marketing Manager, Diversified Business Communications UK

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