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Geospatial services services generate US$400 billion in revenue per year and consumer benefits worth over US$550 billion by saving people’s time and fuel when traveling.

Despite the growing use of geospatial technology around the globe, its true economic value remains hidden, as traditional measuring concepts have failed to keep up with the rapid evolution of the industry

AlphaBeta leveraged consumer surveys across 22 countries spanning six regions and other innovative estimation approaches (such as big data analysis of online job postings) and found that geospatial services make an impact in three key ways:

First, geospatial technology saves people’s time and fuel: digital map users make commuters navigate faster through traffic and choose the most efficient route and travel options, shortening traveling time by 12% and helping people save time worth US$ 264 billion and US$ 20 billion in fuel. Digital maps also speed up shopping, by giving consumers information on store location, opening hours and product availability: consumers save more than 21 billion hours from more efficient purchasing decisions, worth US$ 283 based on local wage rates and employment levels.

Second, geospatial technology creates jobs and brings businesses more customers, especially small businesses: as an industry, geospatial services generate US$400 billion in revenue per year. However, their total economic contribution is several times higher. In fact, digital maps drives US$1.2 trillion of sales around the world, a significant share of which for small and medium businesses who use platforms such as “Google My Business” as a free marketing tool to drive customer traffic. More broadly, geospatial technology improves revenues and costs by at least 5 percent in sectors contributing more than 70 percent to global GDP, for example helping supermarkets open new stores in the most promising locations and mining workers remotely drive machines operating in dangerous environments.

Digital maps drives US$1.2 trillion of sales around the world

Finally, maps have positive spillover effects on the environment and societies around the world. Geospatial services are directly linked to the creation of approximately 4 million jobs. CO2 emissions from vehicles could be reduced by 1,686 million metric tons, through more efficient vehicle trips and alternative transportation options that are made easier by digital maps. Geospatial technology can also be leveraged to decrease emergency response time by up to 20% in some countries. It can help prepare for a natural disaster, for example, by highlighting flood risk or showing residents the best evacuation routes.

The variations in economic value provided by geospatial services across markets shows that there is still scope to make better use of this industry in some countries to maximize the technology’s benefits for consumers, businesses, and society at large. While quantifying the size of these opportunities is beyond the scope of this paper, the report’s findings inform how the geospatial industry, businesses, NGOs, and governments can continue working together to enable the promotion, adoption, and implementation of the emerging applications of geospatial technology and the spread of the associated benefits.