GeoWorld March 2013

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Business Geographics BY TERRY D. BENNETT MOVING TO WI$E INVE$TMENT$ The Next Step in Infrastructure Development A ccording to companies such as IBM ( com/software/data/bigdata) and various technology blogs and press, it's estimated that every day people create around 2.5 exabytes of new information. In smaller terms, that's equivalent to 2.5 billion gigabytes. We're literally drowning in data, and a good part of them are geospatially based: from the new sensors used to gather climate, pavement, bridge or watersystem conditions and building environments to socialmedia sites, cellphones, smartphones and tablets generating geospatially located digital pictures, videos and more. Some sources indicate that more than 90 percent of the data available today has been created, spawned and transcribed in some way during the last two years. Others estimate that by 2020, this new information is predicted to double every 72 hours. So this poses a question: Are all these data going to allow people to make better decisions in funding to help address forward-looking infrastructure problems? The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development stated in 2012 that more than $53 trillion is needed to fix the world's infrastructure systems. In addition, Autodesk estimated that more than $60 trillion in assets are held by institutional investors somewhat reluctant to invest in infrastructure. So how can all these "data" be turned into information that can drive private investment? How can people go from "data" to "wisdom" (i.e., 100101101101001 = the city population will grow 1.8 times in 15 years, 26 G E O W O R L D / M A R C H 2 O 1 3

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