Fresh from unveiling detailed online maps of North Korea, Google on
Wednesday touted studies showing that Internet Age navigation tools
boost the economic engines of nations.
The global "geospatial
industry" brings in $270 billion in annual revenue and companies in the
sector pay more than $90 billion in wages each year, according to a
report by economic consulting firm Oxera.
Firms working with
global satellite positioning, digital maps and navigation systems are a
"promising engine for economic activity now" and will grow by 30 percent
annually, according to Oxera.
"If policymakers, private
companies, researchers and consumers continue to invest in this emerging
industry, we can expect this technology to continue driving growth in
the broader global economy," Oxera said in its report.
technology has ripple effects ranging from making it easier for someone
with a smartphone to find a nearby cafe to efficiently routing shipments
or figuring out the best place to open a shop or place a billboard.
estimated that businesses worldwide have saved $17.3 billion due to
time saved by using navigation technology and that people had a total of
1.1 billion hours lopped from their travel time.
Charlie Hale, of
Google Maps' public policy team, described the geospatial industry as
companies dealing in maps and navigation devices.
firm UPS uses modern navigation technology to plot efficient delivery
routes, taking into account weather, altitude, road pitch and myriad
other factors, according to Hale.
Governments tap into mapping
technology for a range of needs, from disaster responses to urban
planning and improving mass transit systems.
"The key is that we
shouldn't take it for granted," Hale said. "Policy makers need to
support making map data available and private companies like ours need
to keep investing in this."
Companies and countries with modern
map skills and data have economic and competitive advantages, he argued,
citing the Oxera study and a US-focused study by Boston Consulting
"It is like any technology transition," Hale said. "If you
were a small business 50 years ago, your marketing could be the yellow
pages and those with TV ads had competitive advantage."
Now, businesses that are easy to find on online maps have an edge.
is even growing that people with better grasps of digital era mapping
and navigation technologies earn higher incomes, according to Hale, who
confessed to being the son of a geography teacher in Maine.
about being able to use satellite imagery, GPS, all the tools the
average global worker is going to have to rely on," he said.