Low code and spatial data: New roadmap to transformation

With the pandemic, geospatial industry is poised for a skyrocketing growth. Low-code platforms can help the sector navigate better and with more ease

India has been on a ‘digital-first’ trajectory for quite some time now. Ever since the onset of the pandemic Digital India has gained increased pace as technology is not just pervasive but also an indispensable part of our day-to-day lives. At the heart of this journey is the rise of geographic information systems (GIS) that is helping governments and businesses alike to leverage spatial solutions to recalibrate citizen outreach, supply chain, fleet management and workforce security strategies.

As per industry estimates, the Indian geospatial industry currently stands at USD 4 billion and is expected to grow into a USD 20 billion market by 2025. With this, there is greater demand for skilled cartographers, GIS analysts, GIS experts and so on.

For technology enterprises, this means an enhanced demand for ‘industry-ready developers’ who are ready to creatively ideate and build location-embedded solutions and apps to address the 21st century’s challenges.

On the other hand, despite being home to the world’s second-largest developer base, India still battles with the absence and shortage of highly skilled and niche geospatial developers with critical spatial reasoning knowledge and accompanying skills and also be able to apply the spatial insights in larger business settings.

Against this backdrop, a low-code approach to building spatial products and solutions can empower developers to build at scale and speed while staying agile in responding to the changing business and customer needs at reduced costs.

The rise of low code in geospatial

A recent report by Gartner on market demand for app development estimates it to grow through 2021at least five times faster than the IT capacity to deliver it. Therefore, it is inevitable that more organisations are looking for ways to simplify time-to-value, reduce operational costs by the way of redesigning and optimising business processes.

In the coming years, most new business applications are expected to be created with high-productivity toolsets, such as low-code and no-code application development platforms. On a more strategic level, it is easier for companies to engage the services of a lesser skilled developer since it does not demand profound coding skills and it is easier to perform the tasks and track their efficiency in a team setting, thanks to its powerful visualisation capabilities. Using low-code tools, developers can thus make a significant contribution to an organisation’s digital transformation initiatives.

Low-coding platforms can help geospatial developers and designers in making maps through declarative and visual tools that describe what the app should do.

In a nutshell, low-code technology means anyone without the code-writing abilities can build a map. For companies with time and budget restraints, its visual development components, one-click deployment, interoperability with broad range of applications and third-party, open-rendering services can accelerate their time-to-market speed, increase their IT output, all while optimising IT productivity.

For GIS specialists and professional mapmakers, it affords the ability to manage geospatial data at scale. All of this without the need to build ad-hoc tools for using or publishing live geospatial data and without the need for special setup.

Map making, simplified

Although fundamentally scientific, map-making is a visualisation in action. While coding is a buzzword and high activity involvement in many professions of the spatial industry, it is the pursuit of communication and design that is significant. And low-coding platforms, with little hand coding, help geospatial developers, technologists and designers accomplish making maps through declarative and visual tools that describe what the app should do.

Additionally, developers can use an open-source intuitive visual interface with drag-and-drop capabilities to design visual models of an app’s business logic. Alternatively, most of map-making is time spent wrangling and managing geospatial data. Low-code, HD cloud platforms can solve this by delivering the prerequisite building blocks for data management and map publishing. With this, the compilation and deployment of the code are also automatic, enabling more rapid, iterative, and collaborative development and change of software implementation.

Low-coding allows map-makers to spend time on building the solution rather than on explaining to a third-party or clients what they are trying to achieve.

More importantly, the benefit of using low-coding technology is that it can allow map-makers to spend their time and expertise building the solution rather than spending time explaining to a third-party or clients what they are trying to achieve.

To put things in perspective, let us look at how this could work in an in-the-supply chain industry. Let us suppose an organisation wants to relook at their battered supply chain strategy in the aftermath of COVID-19.

The first and foremost concern for the company would be to ensure employees’ and partners’ safety and health on-road, while keeping costs in check. Using an intuitive and low-code, cloud-based app or portal, the company could build a map by picking from a variety of open static datasets into a live, interactive map detailing out the current status of each hotspot area and safety regulations to be followed, thus preempting any potential delays in delivery to the end customer, including weather conditions, traffic congestion and fleet damage in real time.

By Danny Savla, Director Engineering, HERE Technologies

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