Breaking down barriers to Geospatial Awareness


We are increasingly operating in a data-driven world. Underpinning much of this is location, or geospatial, data. Geospatial data pertains to the size, shape, and location of physical objects on earth.

It offers an expansive breadth of applications from optimising transport routes to predicting environmental changes. The advent of Geographical Information Systems (GIS), satellite imagery, and drone technology has made the collection and analysis of data more accessible and accurate than ever. 

However, despite its potential, it is underutilised with many organisations unaware of its value. For businesses, companies fail to exploit geospatial data for strategic decision-making, marketing, and operations management. Several obstacles hinder broader adoption of geospatial data and its associated technologies. Understanding these challenges provides insight into how we can better encourage the use of geospatial data across sectors: 

Barriers to Geospatial Implementation: 

  • Cost: the acquisition of hardware, software, and training can be expensive, but this overlooks the significant value and potential return on investment these systems offer.  
  • Inconsistency: varied conceptualisation and categorisation of technical issues like file management and data cleaning can undermine the usefulness of geospatial tools.  
  • Standardisation: heterogenous datasets and maps reduce utility. Further, a lack of integration creates data siloes, exacerbating difficulties.  

Overcoming these barriers requires a double-pronged approach: increasing geospatial awareness and fostering internal skills.  

It is imperative we build greater awareness about the immense value and application of geospatial data. This involves showcasing successful case studies and highlighting returns on investment. Public and private sectors should partner to develop programmes that illuminate the benefits of geospatial data and demystify GIS technologies.  

Next, we need to invest in cultivating geospatial skills and capabilities. This means not only training individuals to use GIS, but also integrating geospatial thinking into firm capabilities. Promoting geospatial data can empower organisations to unlock its transformative potential. 

Acting on the above will better enable geospatial data to be utilised to its full potential, driving innovation, and addressing complex problems.  

Bryn Medd-Sygrove
Geovation Innovation Researcher