Geospatial APIs, because everything happens somewhere

Geospatial APIs make accessing spatial data a low risk commitment, with a potential high return on investment.


Geospatial APIs, because everything happens somewhere

There’s a hunger for data. Fresh data. And appetite is increasing. The volume and velocity of data production and consumption is driving a paradigm shift in processing and delivery mechanisms.

There’s an expectation for data to be structurally accessible. To have the time lag between data production and consumption eliminated. To be able to access the specific data needed, just as it’s needed, at speed.

More disaggregated data is being delivered to a greater variety of end points than ever before in a broad digital ecosystem. Application programming interfaces (APIs) enable that ecosystem. They’re sets of protocols that enable software applications to communicate with each other to share data. They deliver interoperability between applications and facilitate direct connectivity between businesses. They’re the glue that holds the digital ecosystem together.

‘Data and services are the currency that will fuel the new API economy’, according to Deloitte[1], where revenue generation and organisational success is tied to the ability to add value by sharing data through APIs. ‘Openness, agility, flexibility, and scalability are moving from good hygiene to life and-death priorities’.[2]

There’s no exception for the geospatial industry.

The 2026 Spatial Industry Transformation and Growth Agenda Action Plan recognises that spatial information underpins the modern Australian economy and leveraging spatial data can accelerate growth in traditional and emerging industries. The Action Plan identifies the need for nation-wide access to spatial data and analytical tools that are easy to use for the benefit of all users.[3]

Historically, the geospatial industry has siloed itself to solve the challenges of collecting and curating spatial data, but spatial data doesn’t stand alone as a unique data type. Spatial is a dimension of all data, because everything happens somewhere. People inherently understand spatial as a way to categorise information, so it’s incumbent on the geospatial industry to overcome the complexity surrounding spatial data and make it easy for it to be blended with other data types and integrated into everything.

APIs drive this by enabling software solution developers to easily integrate and combine data streams. And the real value from spatial data comes when it’s combined with other data types to generate insights and enable innovation.

The value of platforms

Organisations offering APIs require an ‘API management backbone’[4] – a platform upon which to deploy them and optimise their use. Platforms are the new marketplaces, bringing together producers and consumers and facilitating exchanges. They allow immense scalability in terms of the number of relationships and transactions they can facilitate. A platform opens access to an organisation’s APIs and facilitates their use by a broad range of end users.

APIs accessed via platforms reduce barriers to creating new products and services. And they facilitate access to data without the need to build infrastructure to store it. ‘In many industries, creating a thriving platform offering across an ecosystem lies at the heart of a company’s business strategy.’[5]

The next generation of location information

These concepts are not particularly new for PSMA. Our longstanding mission is to support the broadest possible use of location-related content in a way that enables customers to effortlessly improve their businesses. And we’ve had a Single Object Access Protocol (SOAP) API – PSMA Cloud – operational since 2011.

PSMA Cloud is a web service that can be integrated with new and existing business applications to bring location intelligence to processes and solutions. PSMA developed PSMA Cloud recognising that organisations building their location intelligence capability don’t necessarily need to store and manage our datasets. It has given organisations the power to choose when and how to call on spatial data and to combine it with data from other domains.

But much more is needed. The market is demanding more. There’s an increasing appreciation of the value of spatial data and customers are demanding greater currency, speed and flexibility in its delivery. Technologies are also changing. The most popular API protocol is now Representational State Transfer or REST.

People have come to rely on the enduring provision of PSMA data and services. To continue to deliver our mission for the benefit of our customers, we must respond to these changes and increase our focus in this area. It’s an exercise in market satisfaction.

In the near future, we’ll be delivering more spatial data using APIs. Geospatial APIs will increase the discoverability of spatial data. They’ll provide accessibility, scalability and flexibility in terms of getting just the data needed, as it’s needed, at speed on a transactional basis, with pricing models to suit. We’re aiming for spatial data to become a natural inclusion in all systems development, for it to seamlessly be part of the broad digital ecosystem, while shielding the user from the complexity of managing spatial data. Geospatial APIs will make accessing spatial data a low risk commitment, with a potential high return on investment.

Watch this space.


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[1] Deloitte, 2015, Tech Trends 2015: The fusion of business and IT, p. 23

[2] Deloitte, 2015, Tech Trends 2015: The fusion of business and IT, p. 25

[3] 2026 Agenda, 2017, 2026 Spatial Industry Transformation and Growth Agenda Action Plan, p. 3

[4] Deloitte, 2015, Tech Trends 2015: The fusion of business and IT, p. 25

[5] Deloitte, 2015, Tech Trends 2015: The fusion of business and IT, p. 23

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