I’d like to claim credit for venturing into the Maritime world because I’m so plugged in that I recognised a trend (or wave if you’ll excuse the pun), but actually its mere coincidence! Deep down we probably are aware (or are we?) that the Oceans account for 70% of the earth’s surface and yet we know so little about them, certainly compared with the 30% that is land. I’ve heard it mentioned before that the world’s oceans are the new frontier.
I found it very interesting recently to talk to Jack Dangermond of Esri, who clearly has a similar view. Last year he appointed Dawn Wright, a prominent Ocean Scientist, as their new Chief Scientist with a remit to ‘create’ OceanGIS. Add to this that the Defence Geospatial Intelligence (DGI) show in London in January this year had a Maritime Track for the very first time in its history, and in June a whole new Conference is scheduled specifically aimed at the Maritime Geospatial world called GeoMaritime 2012. Suddenly it seems the Maritime world is a very exciting place to be!
Many years ago, trying hard to pretend that I was just a ‘physical’ geographer, I realised that it’s impossible to ignore the human interaction in the physical world – we are after all such an invasive species – and so I’m really excited now to be here at exactEarth where we can provide a complete picture on ship movements across the whole globe. Gone are the days where ships went ‘invisible’ 50 or so miles out from port and only re-appeared when they encroached again within the same limit. We now have a complete view of global ship movements. As with every industry I’ve worked with in my career, how we integrate such (geo)data will prove to be the key to its success. The possibilities are huge. 90% of the world’s trade takes place across the Ocean, the retreating ice sheets are opening up hitherto inaccessible areas, piracy is increasing at alarming rates, and as the concept of OceanGIS develops, understanding the interaction of man in this ‘remote’ environment will prove invaluable.
So maybe it’s a fateful coincidence, but I can’t help but be excited. I look forward to sharing my thoughts and experiences in this brave new world here on this blog.