Spatial Insights Key for Sustained Economic Growth


In conversation with Timothy Owens, senior research lead responsible for the global technology and telecoms markets, Statista on global challenges the world faces and how technologies are aiding it.

What role can geospatial and emerging technologies such as AI, ML, and IoT play in shaping more resilient and dynamic economies?

Building resilient and dynamic economies demands recognizing the transformative potential of geospatial technologies. Geographic Information Systems and remote sensing are shaping strong economies by empowering data-driven decision-making.

By layering data on resources, infrastructure, and risks, geospatial tools allow leaders to target development efforts, manage resources efficiently, and build disaster resilience.

The ability to analyze and utilize location-based information empowers economies to adapt to challenges, create new opportunities, and thrive.

When intertwined with emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT), these technologies can create a powerful toolkit for tackling contemporary economic challenges.

AI can analyze vast amounts of geospatial data in real time, enabling predictive maintenance for infrastructure, optimizing resource allocation based on dynamic weather patterns, and forecasting natural disasters with more precise accuracy.

Machine learning algorithms can learn continuously from this data, improving the efficiency and accuracy of these processes over time. Embedded IoT sensors, meanwhile, then collect real-time geospatial data on resource use, infrastructure health, and environmental conditions.

This continuous data stream can feed into AI models, further enhancing decision-making, and enabling real-time adjustments for more responsive and adaptable economies. A clue as to where AI adoption may increase in the near to medium term lies in where global private investment is currently being directed.

In 2022, there was almost 92 billion U.S. dollars of private investment in AI, with the geospatial industry more than 700 million U.S. dollars.

How crucial do you consider technology in achieving a sustainable transition?

Technology plays a pivotal role in building a sustainable future by offering fresh and innovative ideas to tackle environmental problems and make societies more resistant to climate change.

The digital and technological leaps that are currently being made are an essential part in helping our societies reach the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals faster, in addition to empowering developing countries to grow their economies while staying eco-friendly.

While we are all aware that technology can have downsides like resource use and pollution, tools like databases, IoT devices, and AI are helping us navigate this transition.

Enterprises in the tech industry, moreover, are increasingly facing the demand to prepare operations and deliver solutions for a more sustainable future, emphasizing social responsibility, accountability, and transparency of processes.

In the face of this, emerging tech sectors are rising to meet today’s environmental challenges. The terms “green tech” and “clean tech” encompass a range of technologies that promote environmental responsibility. These technologies focus on reducing our negative impact through sustainable practices and processes.

This includes ways to treat water, manage waste, and fight climate change. Examples include renewable energy sources, electric vehicles, and methods to capture carbon emissions.

The green and clean tech industries strive for two main goals: boosting the world’s energy efficiency and making processes more eco-friendly.

This translates into a wide range of applications, including developing sustainable cities, implementing smart grids for energy distribution, ensuring clean water access, producing wind turbines and solar panels, managing waste, and fostering green building construction.

Support from both the public and private sectors plays a key role in attracting worldwide investment to these growing green tech segments.

What are the primary global challenges today, and how can advanced technology solutions assist in addressing them?

AI has emerged as one of humanity’s most potent, and potentially destructive, technological creations, and is among the world’s primary global challenges.

Indeed, the advent of AI has ignited a wave of disruption across industries, transforming the way we work and navigate career paths.

While AI’s potential to automate repetitive tasks and enhance efficiency is undeniable, its impact on the workforce is a cause for concern, particularly in white-collar professions.

However, hope exists. When effectively harnessed, AI can streamline processes, increase productivity, eliminate inefficiencies, create new job opportunities, and drive economic growth.

A 2023 Goldman Sachs research paper suggests that AI could boost global annual labor productivity growth by 1.4 percentage points and U.S. growth by 1.5 percentage points over a decade.

This, of course, hinges on several factors, including the capabilities of the next generation of AI, the complexity of tasks it can perform, and the potential for worker displacement.

The ongoing digital transformation across industries necessitates a skilled workforce capable of navigating and leveraging emerging technologies.

This trend is creating new industries and transforming existing ones, leading to a growing demand for skilled workers who can develop, implement, and maintain these new technologies – from AI and machine learning to cloud computing and renewable energy solutions.

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