The digitization of maps has made a huge difference. Twenty years ago, maps were incredibly inaccurate, and you could not get the required information. But digitization has changed that. After billions of dollars of investments, you now have Google Maps and HERE Maps that are phenomenal.
As far as the 3D world is concerned, there will be digitization of buildings, because now you need to create 3D representations of the entire environment, which would take billions of dollars of investment. These are not the changes that can happen overnight, and we are taking the first step towards it. In the end, if you want to connect people, they have to be both indoors and outdoors. Indoors is where we live and spend majority of our time.
World is not flat
I said that the world is not flat, which was a take on a book advocating that your personal computer and fibre optic cable can enable workflows across nations. This essentially flattens the world. So, you can have a design team in California working with a development team in India to address a world-class problem. This realization that in the 21th century economies would change, marked the beginning of globalization. The world from a workflow standpoint is flat, but I think that the physical world is not flat. The mankind lives indoors and so we have solved a small portion of the used cases that we can address with location and geospatial analytics. I think it is very important that we see the shift and open this new market.
The major trend for us has been the need for public safety community. When the lives are at stake, the first responders ask for more and more accuracy, as they do not want to waste time trying to locate the person who is in desperate need of help. They desperately need better accuracy indoors and, in some cases, outdoors. This is a hugely positive trend for Polaris, since we also serve national security agencies, which always ask for more and more accurate location for a variety of reasons. On the negative side, this requires investments that do not give a quick payback. These are technologies that require a lot of investment and patience.
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For public safety, it is a regulated market by FCC, and the buyer is the wireless carrier, because as part of the license and agreement to get spectrum, he has the obligation to deploy better location technologies. In case of national security, it is the government that wants to invest in a system that is able to track crime and be ahead of criminals.
After so many years of expansion, recession is a part of the business cycle — whatever goes up, comes down. I see very few signals of a downturn in the US. The economy and the stock market in the US are growing, though not spectacularly. In the other parts of the world, probably the situation is not that strong. But it would be pessimistic to call it a recession, though sooner or later, its arrival is inevitable. There is a lot of anticipation because of the length of the economic cycle.
Having an economic model that is based on geospatial intelligence is an interesting thing that can help in counter measures. People from the industry say that they sell products to the financial community to understand what stock is going to go up and which one is going down. If you expand this model to the entire economy, then the answer is yes, it can minimize the impact of a downturn. We need to have much more sophistication and breadth of the geo location business to be able have a model like that for the entire economy.
Data privacy debate
My customers are not affected by data privacy, because when you dial 911, you want to be located. But selling private information to advertisers is not right and I am completely opposed to it. The only thing I notice is that unfortunately, privacy laws are only for the Western world. These have to be enforced everywhere to be effective. There are some companies that do not charge for the services, but then they charge for the information about customers. That needs to be stopped.
What I mean is that all these applications that we install on the phone without reading the pages are a bit of a joke, because people do not realize the legalities of all these contracts they accept. Because effectively when they click on accept after downloading an app, they sign a contract. That is something which has to be regulated, and the delivery of the law cannot be so simplistic.