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News releases 2015

As more and more data becomes available to the human race*, it is critical that we are prepared to understand it and to use it effectively to manage our societies, economies and the environment.

According to a new report launched today by the Association of Geographic Information (AGI), and developed in partnership with design and engineering consultancy Atkins, the geospatial community** will be crucial to helping the infrastructure industry understand, analyse and manage this huge influx of data.

Anne Kemp, Atkins Fellow and chief editor of the report, said: “Forbes predicts that over the next five years the number of handheld devices in the world will increase from 10.3 billion to 29.5 billion. This will mean a huge increase in data, and a phenomenal surge in the amount of noise we will need to sift through to find the information we need to make good decisions.”

“The role of the geospatial community in managing this data is vital. The management of big data through geospatial analysis helps us to visualise patterns of information, create better understanding and dialogue, and make more informed decisions.”

For example, one paper in the report – ‘Big data in future proofing cities’ by Geoff Darch, a principal consultant at Atkins – looks at how geospatial analysis can help future proof our cities through things like locating people who are vulnerable to risks (e.g. those who live near to natural hazards) and mapping city catchments (e.g. locating the sources of food for a growing city).

A key finding from the report is the need for the geospatial community, with their fundamental and deep understanding of data analytics, to work with infrastructure and other industries to tackle issues of data quality and security so that they can improve their decision making and planning. 

“There is far more to geospatial than maps. For geospatial practitioners, it’s really all about data, what you do with it and what outcomes you can provide,” said Anne.

Geospatial experts from Atkins to Ordnance Survey, Tesco to the Met Office, have come together to contribute to the report, providing insight into the issues they believe will have a significant impact on our economy, environment and society over the next five years. The Foresight Report looks at how the geospatial community can make a difference in these areas during an era of massive change and incredible need.

The Foresight Report was launched at the annual AGI event, GeoCom, and is sponsored by Atkins, ESRI and Ordnance Survey. It includes over 60 papers covering significant issues for the infrastructure industry from big data and smart cities to BIM.

To read the AGI Foresight Report 2020 visit


For more information:

D'yon Peoples
Communications manager, Design and Engineering
Tel: +44 1454 662026

Notes to editors:

*According to IBM, each day the human race creates 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data. To put this in perspective, that’s about the same as downloading half a billion new HD movies every day.

** The geospatial community refers to specialists who gather, display and manipulate information that has a location attached to it, from an address or coordinates from a GPS. Geospatial specialists display this information in maps that help people analyse large amounts of information – from the damage done by a tornado to the total number of home foreclosures in a specific area.

Atkins ( is one of the world's most respected design, engineering and project management consultancies, employing some 18,000 people across the UK, North America, Middle East, Asia Pacific and Europe. We build long term trusted partnerships to create a world where lives are enriched through the implementation of our ideas. You can view Atkins’ recent projects on our website.

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