On 8th May 2014 Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi) launched a report by independent economic consultants INDECON into the economic value of the geospatial industry in Ireland.

The main headline finding is that the production of geospatial information, the provision of services which use this type of information, and the benefits derived from its use amount to about €585m annually in Ireland. Over half a billion Euro annual contribution to the Irish economy highlights very strongly the key role which the geospatial sector plays in advancing the economic welfare of Ireland.

An important point to note is that the contribution to the Irish economy is in fact higher than that outlined in the report because although usage benefits in the public sector were quantified, no such quantification of these types of benefits in the private sector was undertaken. For many private sector companies (insurance companies, banks, transport companies, delivery agencies, environmental, planning, engineering and other professions, etc) geospatial information is business critical. Incorporating usage benefits in the private sector would no doubt lift the annual contribution significantly above the benefits outlined in the report.

Also not covered in the study are the benefits gained from better decision-making arising from the use of geospatial information and the downstream beneficial consequences. For example identifying a more appropriate location for a school or clinic through the effective use of geospatial information and associated spatial analyses can benefit many thousands of citizens on a daily basis for decades to come. Clearly there are difficulties in quantifying these less tangible, diffuse benefits, nonetheless they are obviously no less real for not being measured.

Some of the other key findings in the INDECON report are that:

  • the industry employs 1,677 persons directly with another 3,000 employed indirectly;
  • on an annual basis the industry adds almost €120m directly and indirectly to Gross Domestic Product:
  • annually savings made by the use of geospatial information represents about €465m, of which about €82m occurs in the public sector, €279 arises from time savings and €104m results from competition improvements.

An evaluation of the global geoservices industry (geoinformation is the basis on which this industry is built) for Google by Oxera, a British based research company, published in 2013 estimated that the sector generates revenue of US$150 – 270 billion annually (one third the size of the global airline industry). Oxera also estimates that the sector is growing by about 30% per annum. Given this extraordinary rate of growth the Oxera report points out that its estimate of revenue generation will be quickly outdated.

The INDECON report deals with the current situation. Looking forward IRLOGI regards the geoinformation sector as a major growth area (confirmed by the Oxera report), driven essentially by rapidly emerging technological advances and the fact that the very wide range of uses for geospatial information has hardly been tapped, not only in Ireland but globally as well. A great opportunity currently exists to develop an organised and comprehensive approach to realising the existing unlocked opportunities, as well as those which will without doubt materialise in the emerging future. The government’s recent decision to develop a National Spatial Information Strategy provides an excellent platform on which the unrealised current and emerging future benefits can be realised. IRLOGI looks forward to having an opportunity to make significant contributions during the Strategy development phase.

A copy of the INDECON report can be found on the OSi web site at http://www.osi.ie/About-Us/Ireland-GIS-Economic-Report.aspx.  A copy of the Oxera report can be found at www.oxera.com/Home.aspx.

(news item taken from IRLOGI: http://www.irlogi.ie/2014/05/15/economic-value-of-the-geospatial-industr...)