Why ‘where’ is not enough

Andrew Loveless, Chief Revenue Officer at Gaist, explains how a new breed of digital mapping companies are transforming our relationship with our roads.

Over the past decade, I have supported a wealth of geospatial programmes for governments and clients in the infrastructure space.

Once, knowing ‘where’ something was, was enough. But, the emergence of era-defining technologies such as connected autonomous vehicles (CAVs) and 5G (alone predicted to supercharge the UK economy by up to £15.7 billion a year by 2025), has prompted a surge in demand for a much richer level of data our roads and roadscape.

Those planning and implementing these revolutionary new services – with so much riding on their success - demand a level of detail and context that makes data truly relevant to their decision making.  


Telegraph poles & trusted data

Take a telegraph pole – a critical asset for many use cases and commonly not a feature on many maps. If it is, typically only the location is provided.

Far more useful for the policymaker, planner or designer is to have in their grasp the level of detail provided by the breed of highways technology companies like Gaist: How many cables are there? Which house do they join? How congested is the pole and what material is it composed of?

Another example is street lights. Here, users need to know what is the material build?

And again ground surface: Understanding the ground surface material type – whether cobblestones, paving slabs, grass or trees – is key information to avoiding expensive site surveys and reducing abortive civils visits.


Detailed data

At Gaist, we have spent more than a decade building our knowledge and capability so as to provide this rich level of data- and provide it to our customers in such a way that it is easily accessible, engaging and auditable. In short, we are taking data collection to the next-level.

Using our camera-imaging systems and harnessing machine-learning and other technologies, we are harvesting and providing a depth of detailed data which was previously unachievable.  We help asset owners and those impacting with the network, to answer three critical questions: Where is it? What is it? And what condition is it in?

These sorts of ‘good’ data-sets – as the Geospatial Commission recognises in its 2020-2025 Strategy - have the power to unlock huge economic and social advantages and to transform the decision making and operations of those who manage and interact with our road network.

This is both asset owners and managers – local authorities – and those working on their behalf such as contractors as well as those working to roll out a raft of era-defining developments like 5G and CAVs.

Think how quickly, for example, key questions like “what percentage of roads are ready for fibre?” are answered with rich, precise detail available to answer them rather than a series of costly visits to the roadside.

The commercial value being placed today by organisations on securing the greatest possible depth of intelligent and insights into our roads and roadscape is evident: We were recently commissioned, by one single customer, to collect data on highways and footways for approximately 100 towns and cities in the UK.

The market for maps for CAVs alone – which rely on machine-readable digital maps or ‘splines’ to operate - is predicted to grow to $24.5bn by 2050.


Safer streets

The rich level of roadscape data available is also playing a critical role in making our roads safer: By arming local authorities with the ability to know where to prioritise their repairs, to proactively manage defects and to more effectively manage budgets.


Where next?

What is clear is this: With the ‘right’ data, readily available and easy to understand, we can transform our relationship with our roads. 

For further information on how Gaist provides the most in-depth roadscape intelligence available anywhere in the world, please contact [email protected]


Laura Foster

Laura Foster

Programme Manager, Technology and Innovation, techUK

Laura is techUK’s Programme Manager for Technology and Innovation.

She supports the application and expansion of emerging technologies across business, including Geospatial Data, Quantum Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies.

Before joining techUK, Laura worked internationally in London, Singapore and across the United States as a conference researcher and producer covering enterprise adoption of emerging technologies. This included being part of the strategic team at London Tech Week.

Laura has a degree in History (BA Hons) from Durham University, focussing on regional social history. Outside of work she loves reading, travelling and supporting rugby team St. Helens, where she is from.

[email protected]

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Zoe Brockbank

Programme Coordinator, Policy, Tech and Innovation, techUK

Zoe is a Programme Assistant, supporting techUK's work across Policy, Technology and Innovation.

The team makes the tech case to government and policymakers in Westminster, Whitehall, Brussels and across the UK on the most pressing issues affecting this sector and supports the Technology and Innovation team in the application and expansion of emerging technologies across business, including Geospatial Data, Quantum Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies.

Before joining techUK, Zoe worked as a Business Development and Membership Coordinator at London First and prior to that Zoe worked in Partnerships at a number of Forex and CFD brokerage firms including Think Markets, ETX Capital and Central Markets.

Zoe has a degree (BA Hons) from the University of Westminster and in her spare time, Zoe enjoys travelling, painting, keeping fit and socialising with friends.

[email protected]
020 7331 2174

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