Improvement in digital mapping technologies has definitely made our lives easier, especially since the rise in popularity of GPS devices and GPS-enabled smartphones, which help us get around in both foreign lands and local cities. It has been more convenient than ever to get around since we were introduced to Google Maps, an app accessible to pretty much everyone. This improvement in our lives does not only benefit us as it also creates job opportunities and drives economic growth globally. According to a global study from Oxera, maps do make a huge economic impact around the world.

The geo services industry is valued at about US$150 to US$270 billion per year and pays out around US$90 billion in wages. This speaks volumes about various job opportunities in this industry with such lucrative payouts. According to an infographic provided, 1.1 billion hours of travel time are saved each year due to accessibility of maps.

Speaking of travel time, the United Parcel Service uses map technology to optimize delivery routes and this saved 5.3 million miles and more than 650 thousand gallons of fuel in 2011. Talk about energy efficiency! Maps-powered Hailo cab service has also been reported to deliver more than one million passengers last year alone.

In Singapore itself, Oxera reported more than 40% of schools have integrated Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software. Apparently maps are also important for education. The research shows that by using GIS in classrooms, it helps improve students’ spatial thinking and directly contributes to higher test scores. If this goes on, increased test scores lead to better career prospects and higher salaries.

Interestingly, according to Oxera, a 3% increase in test scores can lead to 3 percent increase in wages for students five years after graduation. Maps are now an integral part of our daily lives and as such, there are many more benefits from the geo-services industry. Investors should consider investing in the geo-services industry in order to tap its full economic potential. Investments can come in terms of product innovation, support of open data policies and pushing for more geography education programs in schools.

Contributions from Google Maps and Earth and the Google Maps APIs have improved the geo industry. Nonetheless, there is more to explore in this industry and it is hoped that more enterprising souls will exert more effort (and give more resources) in ensuring this industry grows further.

Featured image credits: Cool Maps