Geospatial analytics is ready for a comeback

Stuart Wilson, VP EMEA, Alteryx, Inc.

Recognising the endless possibilities the Internet of Things (IoT) can bring to our economy, a consortium of London universities, NGOs and government agencies have pooled their resources into a £24 million IoT research hub in the capital, fortifying London as a global IoT hub.There’s a lot of momentum around IoT and the application of connected devices across sectors. However, with the plunging cost of semiconductors and the prominence of self-service analytics platforms, this will be the year that analysts move beyond simply collecting this information, and begin blending and combining various strands of data for deeper, world-changing analysis, says Stuart Wilson, VP EMEA, Alteryx, Inc.

Industry research from a leading analyst firm reveals that only 23% of organisations presently use location intelligence to make business decisions. I believe this is set to change this year, considering the increasing need for many companies to understand how key variables respond to physical locations to maximise their market footprint. In retail, shoppers will continue to move more fluidly between their laptops, mobile devices and stores, which will make data analytics even more important for customer intelligence. According to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, data analytics has been the saving grace for retailers, helping them weather the recent recession and contribute £90 billion to the UK economy in 2014.

We’ve seen large retailers stay ahead of the competition by monitoring demographic changes, store revenue projections, and other metrics in relation with each other. However, in this new age of connected devices, leading retailers have started thinking about geospatial data, possibly exploring customer data on proximity to the nearest store, for example, to provide personalised customer experiences. There are numerous opportunities for retailers to explore the potential of connected devices to better understand consumer behaviour. For example, beacons are tracking where in the store visitors spend most of their time, and which products they spend most time looking at. With this information, store managers can shift their products on the shop floor, and can continue to jig these metrics as they’d like, using real time analytics for guidance.

The transportation industry is primed to capitalise on geospatial analytics as well this year, as more cars become connected, and public transportation systems experiment with automation. As you’re reading this, the UK is developing and testing connected and autonomous vehicles on roads in Bristol, Coventry, Greenwich and Milton Keynes. In order to maintain the UK’s historically renowned position of innovative distinction, the government has announced its support of connected autonomous vehicles by setting aside £200 million in the 2015 Budget. By 2030, this level of investment will create 25,000 jobs in the UK’s automotive industry, and 300,000 additional jobs in related sectors. In addition to boosting our economy, connected and autonomous vehicles will generate an exceptional volume of data, which will propel data analytics from a ‘nice to have’ to a necessity. The scope for geospatial analytics may also open up an array of opportunities for consumer engagement and even monetisation for the data owner. This will become another area for technology and insurance companies to corner the market.

 

Aside from the sectors that are known to bank on IoT, the benefits of geospatial analytics will become abundantly clear in 2016, especially for unexpected applications. For example, in healthcare, IoT has gained significant traction in patient monitoring applications, and now, even areas such as cancer detection and treatment can deeply benefit from an IoT approach.

Radiopharmaceuticals have been a blessing for cancer research and treatment, but they have a key limitation: they must be used within hours of being made as radioisotopes have very short lives. Using geospatial analytics to its advantage, the Nuclear Pharmacy division of pharmaceutical company Cardinal Health has found a way to work around this time-sensitivity.

Cardinal Health makes a nuclear medicine, F18, which is used by patients before a PET scan to help detect and even mitigate cancers. Considering that the drug has a half-life of only six hours, of which four are used up in the batch-making process, the biggest challenge for Cardinal Health is to make enough F18 at each of their nuclear pharmacies and get the medication to oncologists and patients within six hours. Cardinal Health collects and blends geospatial data collected across the supply chain against inventory data using Alteryx, and with regression models, map out how much F18 needs to be made and where for efficient delivery and minimal waste. This is just one example of how blending all the data generated by connected devices can save lives. The potential for these technologies in healthcare are endless, especially on a global scale.

Analysing spatial and temporal data, healthcare organisations can begin to predict movements of viral outbreaks over time more aggressively now than ever before, which can help the general public prepare for potential epidemics before they even occur.

It’s clear that data is rapidly moving from a cost centre to a revenue centre. This year, both the public and private sectors will have a greater understanding of the benefits of blending and analysing IoT generated data for transforming businesses and saving lives.

The author of the blog is Stuart Wilson, VP EMEA, Alteryx, Inc. shares his predictions for the year ahead as businesses rediscover the benefits of geospatial analytics.

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