In today's increasingly connected world of technology and information, trends can be difficult to keep track of. Sometimes they can be fickle and lacking in substance, and very often they disappear as quickly as they appeared.
Others times, however, trends can emerge due to absolute necessity - through a collective awareness of important issues facing the world and an understanding of what action is required to solve them. Just take the simplified geospatial procurement model being launched by one of the world's largest geospatial bodies, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).
In a way, it's possible to draw a comparison between the new NGA initiative and some positive action taken by one of the world's trendiest soul-searchers, Derek Zoolander - from Zoolander movie fame.
I imagine the dialogue behind the initiative went something like this:
NGA: "Did you ever think that maybe there’s more to life than being really, really, really ridiculously powerful? .
I mean, maybe we should be doing something more meaningful with our lives.
Like helping people"
FRIENDS: "You know what could really help you sort through these important issues?"
Recently, the NGA announced an initiative called CIBORG which stands for 'Commercial Initiative to Buy Operationally Responsive GEOINT'. CIBORG is designed to make it easier for the US government to acquire commercial geospatial earth observation products, data and services, and although the process is still a highly-regulated one, the initiative is expected to help grow an inclusive and forward-thinking geospatial industry.
Essentially, the CIBORG modernized buyer and supplier interface will act as a match-maker service between public buyers and organisations which have something to offer in terms of GEOINT. Or as Derek Zoolander would say: "It's kind of like a really, really, really cool, personalised shopping experience where you get to browse through all of the trendiest geospatial stuff!"
But this simplified procurement model trend wouldn't be a trend if the NGA was the only one driving it.
Across the ocean, the European Union recently released a document called 'European Union Location Framework Guidelines for public procurement of geospatial technologies (2016)' which will help member states to standardise their approach to engaging with the many organisations on its shores. In Australia, meanwhile, the government's Digital Transformation Office recently launched an initiative called the Digital Marketplace which is similar to CIBORG. It is expected that this initiative, which forms part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, will significantly increase the amount of business which is conducted between the local tech industry and local, state and federal governments.
The emerging trend towards a simplified, less confusing geospatial procurement model is a good thing for everyone. It's good for governments which will soon make better informed decisions, and for the citizens who will benefit from these decisions. It's good for geospatial businesses which will profit from wider government spending, and it's good for the environment which will be better monitored thanks to more technology being made available.
Looks like geospatialists are finally getting to show the world how cool they really are...