Written by Dick Fleming | Originally Published in Geospatial World World Economic Forum Founder and Chairman Klaus Schwab observed in a 2016 article, The Fourth Industrial Revolution: What is Means, How to Respond, “We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one […]
Written by Dick Fleming | Originally Published in Geospatial World
World Economic Forum Founder and Chairman Klaus Schwab observed in a 2016 article, The Fourth Industrial Revolution: What is Means, How to Respond, “We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before.”
Schwab suggested, unlike the First, Second, and Third Industrial Revolutions, there are unique aspects to this Fourth Industrial Revolution: its velocity, scope, systems impact, evolution at an exponential pace, and the fact that this Fourth Industrial Revolution is disrupting almost every industry in every country. “The breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.”
While he did not explicitly call this Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) “geospatial technology,” I believe it is fair to say that, in the ensuing six years, this clearly has revolved around the disciplines and capacities of geospatial and geospatial intelligence (GEOINT).
Fast forward to 2022, Geospatial World CEO and Founder Sanjay Kumar documented the scale and scope of the 4IR, observing in the GeoBuiz 22: Global Industry Outlook Report that the “geospatial industry is the next ‘big opportunity’ for technology companies both as an ‘advancing market in itself’ and ‘augmenting business processes’ of mainstream IT, Engineering, and Autonomous industries.”
The global geospatial economy is projected to be USD 681 billion by 2025 and to geometrically grow by 2030 to USD 1.44 trillion.
As was the case with the IT sector in the latter half of the 20th Century and the focus by communities on economic development in the biotech sector in the past two decades, today, cities and regions are beginning to focus on their economic development and quality of life by emphasizing on the geospatial sector.
Since the 2016 decision by the federal government to build the 3,100-job, 100-acre, USD 1.75 billion new western headquarters of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) at the heart of the 1,500-acre NorthSide Regeneration Mixed-Use Development, several blocks north of St. Louis’ downtown, the community has assessed the potential of the city to become a global hub for geospatial intelligence — both defense and commercial applications.
The new 75,000 sq ft multi-tenant SCIF at The Globe is paired with the adjoining floor of unclassified space for Geospatial Intelligence firms. St. Louis has identified five overall business and civic initiatives in the GeoFutures Plan to fulfill its potential to become a global geospatial hub:
St. Louis is focusing on geospatial in four industry sectors — national security; digital/precision agriculture; logistics; and healthcare delivery.
With regard to the key public/private partnerships for St. Louis to fulfill its potential, two near-term initiatives and one longer-term development are essential.
Development of multi-tenant Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) space is critical to both major GEOINT firms, as well as startups in this sector, to perform classified work for the federal intel community.
Creation of a business and civic tech ecosystem in Downtown North, proximate to the new NGA/ West 100-acre campus and the NorthSide Regeneration Development; and, longer term, as the now under-construction NGA/ West campus, nears completion in 2026, the surrounding mixed-use development of NorthSide Regeneration (including its Innovation District, GEOINT Village and HealthWorks Village at the 34-acre former Pruitt-Igoe Site) will be a critical additional ecosystem for the new NGA/West HQ.
1,500-acre NorthSide Regeneration Mixed-Use Development, several blocks north of downtown, with NGA/West at the center. St. Louis reached a major milestone recently as US Senator Roy Blunt officiated groundbreaking for a 75,000 square-foot multitenant SCIF, now under construction and scheduled to open this Fall in The Globe Building.
“The SCIF at The Globe Building is the first of its kind outside the national capital region and underscores the importance of the emergence of St. Louis as the national geospatial intelligence hub,” Sanjay Kumar wrote in Geospatial World December edition.
The other near-term partnership enhancing the GEOINT ecosystem is the recently created Downtown North Insight District.
This new innovation district is a collaborative civic venture of:
The long-term project involving multiple public/private partnerships is the 1,500-acre NorthSide Regeneration (NSR) Mixed-Use Development, at the heart of which NGA’s new HQ 100-acre is located. The fully built-out NSR development will include 3 million square feet of office, 2 million square feet of retail, 1 million square feet of advanced manufacturing and tech space, and up to 2,500 residential units.
GEOINT Village in the Innovation District will include several hundred thousand square feet of office space, a hotel, an incubator/ accelerator, and a large SCIF immediately across the street from the new NGA HQ campus.
The initiatives in St. Louis to becoming a global geospatial intelligence hub also have spawned a tandem statewide Missouri effort by rural businesses, civic, and elected officials called Missouri Geo4IR (Missouri Geo 4th Industrial Revolution). Missouri GEO4IR intends to parallel St. Louis regional economic and entrepreneurial development efforts to develop, foster, and grow geospatial, AI, workforce training, educational, and internship programs throughout the state.
So, as St. Louis and Missouri proactively positions themselves for fulfilling their potential in the 4th Industrial Revolution through these innovation districts and related GEOINT efforts, they aspire to get their share of this rapidly developing USD 1.44 trillion global geospatial market.