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    By David Crowther 

    Another year and another title of a paper for the AGI GeoCom that was completely unknown to me. It’s like 2016/17 again, with these geospatial buzzwords such as ‘The Internet of Things’, ‘Big Data’ and ‘Smart GeoSpatial’.

    Well now it’s October 2018 and I’m sat on the internet googling what is the ‘Productivity Puzzle?’ and wondering why the AGI has chosen another title of an article that this ‘Geographer in a CAD World’ doesn’t really understand?

    I struggled to know where to start this article. Maybe I should try and discuss the scientific or are they political ‘facts’?

    • In the mid 2000’s one worker did the same in 1 hour as 5 people did 100 years earlier – that sounds like an increase in productivity!
    • When the financial crisis hit, productivity stopped growing and there has been no growth since 2008 – that’s definitely a decrease in productivity!
    • The level of productivity in the UK is now considerably lower than in other major developed economies including the US, Germany and France – that’s a puzzle!

    A few YouTube videos later and The Financial Times, London School of Economics and others seemed to struggle for a concise answer to this puzzle. Although for some the answer was simple, a ‘happier’ workforce is up to 12% more productive so there you go, maybe we need to be more like Google and introduce slides at work, have a Ping Pong table and take longer lunches. Could this really solve the Productivity Puzzle? I wasn’t so sure.

    I tried to create a catchy one-word title using the key words that I thought could help increase productivity; Collaboration, Interoperability, Efficiency and Creativity, but after an hour a one-word phrase was elusive and I realised that this wasn’t a ‘productive’ use of my time and I was simply adding to the Productivity Puzzle. So, I chose the three most important themes related to my client-facing work that I believe will help to solve the Productivity Puzzle.


    Collaboration and Automation:

    Autodesk themselves have classified 2018 as the Age of Automation, with their suite of design applications providing automated tools allowing all stakeholders to collaborate on small to large scale geospatial projects. Throughout 2018 Cadline has seen its client base start to fully utilise these applications (such as InfraWorks) to undertake conceptual design analysis in a cloud-based environment where CAD, GeoSpatial, Architects and Planning professionals can all contribute their data and skillsets within a collaborative model. The driving force for this is BIM compliance, which will ultimately lead to tangible productivity benefits for clients through the delivery of intelligent asset, building and infrastructure models. 

    Interoperability Driving Efficiency:

    As a ‘Geographer in a CAD world’ it’s been an exciting year evangelizing about removing the barriers between disparate CAD & GIS applications, which have too long been ringfenced into separate silos.  2018 for Cadline has seen a dramatic increase in the utilisation of Open Source technology, where we have seen Universities attend our GIS training courses in order to add these technologies to their syllabus. We have seen more companies understanding the value in extracting data from proprietary applications into a centrally accessible spatial database. This has enabled smaller organisations to invest in geospatial capabilities implementing ‘One Source of Truth’ for their geographic information, allowing more users to access that spatial data from the same location without having to directly ask their CAD or GIS teams. ‘Self-Serving’ is ultimately a win for all, as we get answers to questions in a timelier manner, allowing expensive CAD and GIS resources to then concentrate on delivering more complex analysis, leading to efficiency gains across the business.

    Streamlining Processes:

    It’s also been a busy year for Cadline helping to update our customers often overly complicated processes. Through the delivery of Design Review projects, Business Analysis tasks and to a greater extent Blogs and FAQs within our Cadline Community website, we have sought to streamline numerous geospatial processes for all our clients. It’s been exciting educating companies about new technologies and different ways of doing things, instead of relying on trusted software, ingrained processes and the human mentality that says, ‘if it isn’t broken why would you ever think of fixing it!’ For example, the cost, time and ultimately productivity savings in processing your OS Mastermap data into a centrally accessible database, as opposed to individually processing it into 5 disparate applications, has been a revelation to many of our new clients. We have learnt that by engaging more effectively during software implementations and listening to our client’s requirements we have been able to tailor our own webGIS application, for example to automatically generate Con29 documents for Local Searches, leading to a more commercially viable proposition for us and increased productivity across a whole department for our clients. 

    It’s definitely been an enjoyable year working through these themes which when implemented together I believe would help to solve the productivity puzzle. Ultimately, as project tasks are more easily automated, software applications and spatial datasets are more interoperable and complex processes more streamlined, the jobs of those affected are easier and therefore more enjoyable. So maybe being happier will increase our productivity, although I won’t be asking the boss for a slide for Christmas just yet!