By now everyone has become familiar with digital maps and location-based services, from the satellite images on our mobile devices to the turn-by-turn directions in our automobiles to the weather maps used in your daily news broadcast. This is all part of the larger geospatial industry, which spans government and other commercial markets in addition to familiar geospatial consumer products.
But just how big is the geospatial industry? To answer that question, Google recently commissioned two reports on the economics of the geospatial industry, a report on the U.S. from The Boston Consulting Group and a global report from Oxera.
According to the report by The Boston Consulting Group, within the U.S. economy alone, the geospatial services industry is estimated to employ more than 500,000 people, generate $75 billion in annual revenues, and have an overall economic impact estimated at $1.6 trillion annually in revenues. Oxera reports similar impact for the global geospatial services industry, which is estimated to generate $150-$270 billion annually in revenues. The market is also forecast to continue growing in coming years, 30% per year globally according to Oxera and 10% per year in the U.S. according to The Boston Consulting Group. The overall diversity and growing importance of geospatial products in our society is the foundation for this continued growth.
To put this in perspective, Oxera compared this with the video game and airline industry, which are estimated at $25 billion per year and $594 billion per year, respectively. This indicates geospatial is 5-10 times larger than the video game industry and at least one third the size of the global airline industry. What makes geospatial so big? Consider the fact that digital imagery and location-based services are essential components in resource management, supply chain logistics, infrastructure design, telecommunications, and national defense. Also consider the manufacturing industry involved with creating consumer products, as well as the satellite and space industry needed to make it all work.
As another example, geospatial products and services can contribute significant cost savings to existing markets. For instance, Oxera estimates that GPS generates $10 billion annually in cost savings through increased efficiency in logistics. Oxera also similarly estimates that geospatial services contribute $8-$22 billion annually in savings for agriculture by improving irrigation.
Geospatial is clearly an expansive industry, and still growing. This indicates not just commercial opportunity, but also a robust job market, which includes everything from manufacturing and design to software and application development.
So to answer the question… geospatial is BIG.
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