84. Geospatial Friday: Schwarzenegger backs GIS

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Geospatial technology has powerful supporters in many industries right across the world. However, perhaps its most powerful supporter is none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Austrian born actor who is best known for his roles as the Governor of California and as the part man, part machine known as the Terminator.

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In 2008, while attending the Government Technology Conference on California's Future, Schwarzenegger revealed that he is a big fan of geospatial technology when he famously said:

"GIS is like Google Maps....but better"

In this weeks Geospatial Friday post we are 'catching up with' Arnold some years later in order to better understand his interest in geospatial technology. In this short and frank interview (a Terminator is not programmed to lie) 'Arnie' explains where he sees the industry going in the future as well as some of the existential threats which it faces from other technology.


So you are a big fan of geospatial technology?


Affirmative. Having spent a lot of time trying to locate John and Sarah Connor, and as a politician trying to solve some of the challenges in the large state of California, 'where' has become a very important question to me. Navigating both space and time is a big challenge and as a result, I am impressed by the capabilities of locational technology and information. Maps are about power.


So tell us about this Rise of the Machines?

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At 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th, the Skynet super-computer became self-aware and subsequently caused the destruction of mankind. Since this was just a movie, fortunately, this event never happened in real life. Today, however, artificial intelligence is a reality, and one which is going to have a big impact on the geospatial world. Geospatialists need to prepare for the future battle by upskilling in the fields of advanced algorithms and predictive analytics. AI and machine learning tools are more accessible than you think and it is possible for the industry to level the playing field and to say “Hasta la vista, baby” to outside competition.


Do you think that mapping is going to change a lot in the future?

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It already has. Just look at the 'self healing maps' which are currently being used by the autonomous vehicle industry. These hi-definition maps are being developed using Lidar, sensor, earth observation and GPS technology. Machine learning is enabling these maps to redraw themselves as more accurate and timely information becomes available. 'Self healing maps' remind me of the advanced T-1000 liquid metal Terminator which could reshape itself into different forms.


So it's Judgement Day for the industry?

Affirmative - but there is still time. As well as artificial intelligence and machine learning, the industry needs to understand the potential challenges posed by the censorship of geospatial data. Just like a Terminator, a map cannot lie. Another challenge facing the industry is in the area of IoT and Smart Cities. Without agreed upon standards, Smart Cities could become silo-ed, incompatible with one-another and less secure in the digital age. The geospatial community (open source and enterprise) needs to come together in order better promote the potential of this powerful technology to the IT world. Trust me, I'm from the future, I should know.

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