Canada Should Host A Location Technology Showcase
There was a time when the Canadian geomatics sector was world-recognized industry leader. Unfortunately, our sector is no longer what it once was. If you’ve read the CGCRT draft strategy you’ll see that it’s big on goals, but not so big on concrete actions to reach those goals. One of their goals is to position Canada as the country for geospatial technologies and innovation. I am proposing one concrete action that could help us reach that goal both at home and on the global stage.
If we want to once again be the global leader in the geospatial sector (and yes I use geomatics and geospatial interchangeably), we first have to act like leaders. We have to think big and not be afraid to beat our own drum…loudly. We have to throw away our Canadian modesty and stop apologizing for our successes. We also have to realize that the biggest innovations in location-based technologies might not be coming out of Canada at the moment.
Picture this: 20,000 people flocking to the location technology event of the world every two years, hosted right here in Canada. I’m proposing that Canada become the top destination for the world’s biggest showcase of location technology. This would not be an academic conference. This would be a global showcase of the world’s leading innovative location technologies. Anyone with location-based technologies, products, or services would be welcome to participate. This would not be just an industry event, but a public event. It would be our Sundance Film Festival. It would be the Olympic Games of location technology. Dare we call it the Global Exposition for Location Technologies?
In Canada, we have many events in the geospatial milieu. These events tend to be academic conferences with very limited markets. Let’s create something bigger. Let’s create an event that encompasses everyone and everything that has a stake in location-based technology. Once we begin regularly hosting an event of this calibre and scale, the benefits would be felt in almost every area that we are currently concerned about.
First, it would bring the global marketplace to Canada, giving our companies a chance to sell and market their products, and build relationships with new partners.
Second, the general public and government leaders in our country would understand what we do and what we contribute not only to Canada, but to the world. The problem of identity and branding could be solved with a global event like this.
Third, it would unify the disparate stakeholders of our sector. The traditional and the newer stakeholders would work collaboratively on this showcase.
Over the next ten years, location information is going to influence our lives more than ever, and in ways we can’t yet imagine. I can foresee a day when everything has some sort of location-based component to it. Location is getting more and more important every day. If the Canadian geomatics sector doesn’t stand up and demand recognition for our contributions to technological and human progress on the world stage, we will have missed an opportunity. This opportunity won’t come again.
The time is right for an expo of this scale. People will come, and when they do they will think of Canada as the geospatial leader of the modern age. How could they not? We would have positioned ourselves as the place to see the newest and most innovative location-based technologies on the planet.
Of course, so many questions remain, and I don’t have all the answers. The first issue that needs to be addressed is: Who is willing and able to take on this risk? I see the associations taking a major role in this project, but for it to really be a success it needs to be a joint effort across all dimensions of our industry – from private industry, to government, to NGOs.
We can be #1 again, we might just have to get a little creative and take some risks.