15 january 2024
In 2023, we reached more audience than ever before, telling the world that Nazka is a mapping company, with a focus on mapps that matter for society. We stayed faithful to our mission, focusing our work on climate, mobility, health, security, …. We also kept our focus on innovation. A big word that we fill in by always trying to work state-of-the-art. We keep our eyes open for the newest technologies, we try out new things while staying loyal towards well-proven technologies.
Looking at climate, transport and mobility remains one of the most important contributors of CO2 emissions in Belgium (21,5% of the total CO2 emission in 2021). We’re convinced that promotion of public transport and using your bike instead of the car can help to bring this numbers down. Velopark.be and Naarjobs.be are 2 great examples of projects that have exactly that in mind.
Velopark.be collects all information about bicycle parkings in Belgium. The platform offers access to cities and municipalities to add parking facilities and to manage the quality of the data. The information can then be used by all kinds of applications, for example digital maps, route planners, websites of municipalities or events and all kinds of bicycle apps.
Naarjobs.be shows how you can get to your new or current job in a smart and sustainable way, and how your (new) employer can support this. The lack of mobility or knowledge about the existing transport options is an important barrier in the search for work in Flanders. In 2024 we’ll be working a lot more on these projects, with support from valuable experts like Mobiel21, Fietsberaad and POM West-Vlaanderen. As a social responsible company, we also keep walking our talk on climate, for example by having a non-salary-car-policy and promote sustainable transportation instead.
Another important source of emissions is residential heating (14,9% of total emission in 2021). Aquathermal energy is an unknown source of renewable energy that can make a real difference here. In 2023, we joined forces with our friends from EXTRAQT to help unleashing its potential. And potential it has! As much as 20% of the heating demand in East Flanders can be met through aquathermal energy. Check out our mapps in East Flanders and Colombia to learn more about this fascinating science and technology.
Security can be approached from many angles. As a society, we have developed emergency services on which we all rely, more than we often realize. Already for more than 5 years now, Nazka is the mapping partner for INA, the intervention application for fire brigades being used by several fire brigades in Belgium. Together with our partner and INA initiator Gemsotec, we have taken important steps and will continue to do so in 2024. Started as a situation awareness application, INA is becoming more and more an active intervention tool with user-driven innovations carefully evaluated by our user group. Having proven its value in the emergency sector, 2024 might be the year where INA also breaks through in other domains.
Working on maps like INA also means that our customers must be able to rely on us for a secure hosting, maintenance and overall policy. In comes DevOps (“Development and Operations”). 2023 has been a major DevOps year for Nazka. Five to ten percent of our total company efforts went to further optimizing, streamlining, securing and maintaining our software development cycles. DevOps will remain on the top of our minds in 2024, with an important focus on cybersecurity. Don’t forget that every EU member has to implement the NIS2-directive by 17 October, 2024, including Belgium. There will be a lot of cybersecurity talk going on this year…
Let’s talk about innovation. With the remote sensing background of Nazka’s founders, earth observation has always taken a special place in our portfolio. The operational usage of EO data is evolving fast. EO data products and knowhow are becoming rapidly more accessible for non-EO experts and data scientists, stimulating its usage in combination with other data sources. Application-integrated EO data sources instead of sole-EO data demonstration platforms are expected to be one of the main focus points in the EO sector in 2024, hopefully leading to real product-market fits in the sector at last.
We follow this trend closely. In 2023, we finalized the Vietnamese version of our EXPLORE EO platform together with remote sensing experts from VITO, focusing on monitoring water quality from space. In 2024 we plan to further elaborate our developments on EXPLORE, combining it with other water quality monitoring systems and citizen science, exploring new areas in East Africa.
Applications such as EXPLORE-VN rely heavily on a cloud native data infrastructure. From the beginning, Nazka has been promoting and using cloud native data practices for all its mapps and applications. In 2023, we made major knowledge investments on how we can optimally apply cloud native data formats for intensive and operational data processing and storage applications. We found that the biggest advantages of working cloud native versus the more traditional approaches, are its scalability, flexibility and reduced latency. Keep an eye on our blog, with a new post focusing on the advantages of working cloud-native coming up soon!
Innovative solutions don’t come with a pre-written script. Designing the solution together with our clients is an innovative action in itself, one in which we have further specialized in 2023. Co-creation is the key word here, but it only works with the right knowhow and tools. Check out this blog post, where we focus on how to find your target audience, a technique we applied in our European Horizon 2020 projects Wimby and Buildspace. In 2024 we plan to focus even more on co-creation, as we develop our mapps with a design-first approach in mind.
We cannot look back or look forward without talking about our beloved Mapframe. With 15% of our development efforts focused on the Mapframe, it is our biggest behind-the-scene internal project, and the fundament of the development of all our maps. By using the Mapframe, we can build high-quality applications in a short time without losing time on basic configurations and development of components. The Mapframe is meticulously maintained, adheres to numerous conventions and standards, and is therefore robust, stable and performant. It’s compatible with the most popular mapping libraries, including Mapbox, Maplibre, Leaflet, MapTiler and Google Maps. Have a look at our demo, which can help you decide which mapping library to use. Keep in mind that it only reveals the tip of the iceberg of what we can do for you with our mapps!
Who knows what the future will bring? No one really does, but we’re quite convinced that in a world full of uncertainties, mapps that matter will always remain important to find your way in this fascinating place called earth. Anywhere your path goes, we wish you a healthy, balanced and joyful 2024. May you enjoy as much from the little, daily, things in life, as you will from the major milestones you might achieve!