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Hexagon Geospatial Looks To Rethink Map Analytics With Smart M.App

The 'map of the future' needs to be dynamic, analytic in nature, and targeted to what an individual user wants, says CTO Bradley Skelton.

Interactive mapping services have emerged as a hot acquisition target over the past year as companies have raced to control their own location data rather than relying on maps from the likes of Google and Apple.

For businesses that can’t or don’t want to acquire their own major mapping entities, incorporating analytics into intelligent maps in order to better understand geographic location, movement patterns, and even internal processes is still a priority. This is the goal of Hexagon Geospatial’s Smart M.App technology, a cloud-based “lightweight map application” that provides real-time analytics.

Smart M.App

“The map of the future needs to be dynamic,” said Bradley Skelton, CTO at Hexagon Geospatial, speaking in a session at GeoBuiz Summit. “It should be analytic in nature, targeted toward what the individual wants.”

In a brief conversation following the presentation, Skelton talked to GeoMarketing about taking Smart M.App to market — and why the map itself is not the endgame.

What do you envision as real-world use cases for Hexagon’s Smart M.App technology?

Well, the Smart M.App technology is a foundational technology — a platform technology — so the real strategy with it is to work with partners who will then envision their own applications.

I see it as [applicable] across verticals. Today we heard one of the [speakers] say, “Look, verticals are the way to diversify yourself,” which is true. [Diverse] markets are starting to understand the importance of dynamic mapping.

Our strategy is to make sure we have a set of tools and a set of raw computation capabilities that lets partners do what they do best: apply the technology to a solution.

You said in your presentation that, for Hexagon, the “map itself is not the endgame.” Can you elaborate?

Here’s an specific infrastructure example: Take the group that specializes in road infrastructure, and that’s where they’re spending their money. They want to see what areas required what [maintenance], etc.

They could sit down and do all of those analytics by hand, but instead, [with Smart M.App], they’ve got it all in one place. Someone who wants to look at the budget over the last year and see what was spent, literally, on the roads can view [a map] and see that — or see which kinds of roads use the most money and the most maintenance.

Essentially, it’s a purpose-built app that helps somebody answer their questions. That’s what makes it personal and interactive in an [analytic] way. The map is a means to an end, and it’s about answering a specific question.

Another key point from your session: 600 billion location data points are produced per day in The U.S. alone. How does that impact what you’re doing and the importance of interactive mapping?

Well, it’s certainly important because, obviously, all that is happening somewhere and the function of a map is all about where is something, right? Not all, but [a lot of those] data points could impact the information that someone using Smart M.App wants.

Then, the question is how to access to that data. Who’s got that data? How can we get it? How can somebody build an app that can intelligently extract information from that data and show it?

That’s part of that intelligent mapping design for the user and part of what we’ve done.

Somebody owns that data, and through our partnerships with data providers we’ve built connectors into our software so that we can consume that [location] data in our apps. And it’s always [a continuing] process.

What’s next for Hexagon Geospatial? What does the year look like as you move forward with Smart M.APP?

This really is the year the we’re bringing this technology to market.

We announced it last year, and we showed some pieces of it, but we are bringing it out full force this year. So what’s on the horizon for us is bringing on lots and lots of partners, getting more and more people into this mapping game, and continuing to expand the platform.