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You may have heard it said within your own organisation, ‘I’ve got so much data I don’t know what to do with it, I need to innovate’.

It might sound funny, yet I know what they mean. There’s so much going on. All the time. We are all being encouraged to innovate, yet sometimes it feels like we just need 5 minutes to stop, take stock and think.

So, I’ve been thinking. We’ve all seen those programmes on TV where they ask? ‘what was Mankind’s greatest invention?’ – with common answers such as; The Telephone, Radio, Television and Computer always ranking highly, alongside big hitters, The Aeroplane, Penicillin and Nuclear Power.

I always think well no, hang on, surely it was the invention of Electricity itself, that made all these things possible (yes, even penicillin) Without the invention of Electricity there would have been no Intel making the very first microprocessor in 1970.

Now, one fifth of our way into the 21st century and we have ‘new’ big hitters in Innovation, all vying for our attention as we seek to transform. We hear them named just about every day, in seminars and events and every trade magazine you dare pick up. Typically;

  • Machine Learning
  • 3D, IoT, BIM
  • AR, VR, AI, UAVs
  • 5G, Big Data, Mobile Mapping
  • Smart Cities, Underground maps
  • Driverless Cars, Earth Observation

The list goes on and on. Will they solve our asset management problems? Without a doubt many probably will, some more than others. For instance, UAV’s are really starting to find their niche, improving networks ability to capture insights into difficult access locations (and yet, go on to provide even more data).

So how do we focus? I can’t help thinking, just like our old friend electricity, it is the invention of good data quality management principles that will help make all the sexy, trendy, newbies worthwhile and solve the dilemma ‘How do Networks run their businesses more efficiently?’ or in other words, do more for less.

Many businesses know that good data management is fundamental to transforming and improving performance, understanding that good data is the key to innovation, yet still struggle to get on top of it. Common constraints are identified as;

  • Multiple data sources
  • Departmental silos
  • Incomplete & legacy data
  • Lack of management buy-in

The Marketforce Future of Utilities report 2019, revealed some startling yet unsurprising survey results;

  • 78% think new technology will be the top driver for change in the industry over the next few years
  • 82% agree that a lack of analytical capability is a significant barrier to change
  • 73% said improved analytical capability will be very important to enabling digital transformation
  • 96% agree that in order to improve incident response networks must utilise a wider pool of data than they’ve traditionally handled.

The case for absorbing good data and adopting new technologies is quite clear. The common link in most cases is the reliance of location data. The power of place has been made by the UK Geospatial Commission who will soon be releasing its first annual plan in spring 2019, and a longer term National Geospatial Strategy will follow - to improve our understanding of the emerging technological landscape and the needs of the geospatial sector where geospatial data is of increasing relevance and value.

Which brings me back to my Electricity versus Data Quality Management analogy.

Organisations are seeing an increasing need to put geospatial data at the heart of smarter decision making – and by focusing on getting your systems data ready, will put you in good stead to benefit from investment in future technologies.

At 1Spatial we believe in following six key Data Quality Management Principles.

  1. Embrace automation.
  2. Ensure repeatability and traceability.
  3. Design simple solutions to difficult scenarios and avoid unnecessary technical complexity.
  4. Target the typical, not the exceptional, in order to maximise value.
  5. Adopt an evidence-based decision-making process to create business confidence in the outcome.
  6. Collaborate to identify issues and work towards a solution

The value and importance of maintaining good data standards is now more widely recognised in our sector. Today, geospatial data is a boardroom priority.

If you would like to learn more, 1Spatial have produced informed resources which you can download for free here: Little Book of Spatial Data Quality / Little Book of Spatial Data Management.

Written by Martin Shaw, Senior Account Manager at 1Spatial.