Ask the Asia Pacific’s most dominating figure in spatial about the mass disruptions caused by the Amazon outage earlier this year and he’ll tell you – it’s a geographic issue.
As managing director of the Boustead Geospatial Technology group, which includes GIS heavy-weight Esri Australia, Brett Bundock is at the forefront of the region’s multi-billion dollar location-based analytics industry.
Bundock asserts if Amazon had added the element of ‘location’ to their network risk modelling, they would have clearly understood the extent of their East Coast exposure.
“Put simply, diagrammatic or tabular representations of risk show only a fraction of the overall picture,” Bundock said.
“By highlighting the geographic elements in business data, you can instantly see the information that matters to your operation – such as which part of your company infrastructure is susceptible to largescale natural disasters.”
Analysing company data against the backdrop of a specific territory or geographic area is not a new practice. For more than four decades government agencies, commercial enterprises and NGOs have utilised location-based analytics to equip decision-makers with actionable business intelligence.
In Australia, location-based analytics software – more commonly referred to as Geographic Information System technology (GIS) – was traditionally the domain of land management agencies and the military.
But following the 2011 Brisbane floods, GIS made its first significant move into mainstream data analytics.
The key component of the technology that caught the imagination of BI and Big Data professionals was its predictive capabilities.
In the case of the Brisbane floods, GIS technology was used to map the likely path of the rising waters – before the disaster fully unfolded. It was a watershed moment for the spatial industry.
Beyond its predictive capabilities, the technology’s capacity to work with real-time data to provide decision-makers with a live view of their business was considered game changing.
These two capabilities alone had moved GIS from its long standing back-of-house role to be viewed as one of the most exciting developments in Big Data analytics since the democratisation of BI.
Bundock asserts the irony of the technology’s new found rock star status was not lost on him or the industry, especially as GIS has been used to perform military-grade analytics for more than forty years.
“GIS technology is often mistaken for the more Google-esque type of mapping. It’s important to discern here – we’re not working with simple dots on maps.
“Advanced location-based analytics has the ability to process and analyse multiple, large and complex datasets to produce the sort of business insights that will shift a share price.
“The good news for those organisations who have yet to invest in advanced analytics or who have made substantial investments in other technologies, is there are no rules for adopting this capability.
“Location-based analytics can be implemented as either a standalone or complementary system. And it’s an investment that invariably pays for itself many times over.”