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10 July, 2018 - 11:58 By Judith Gaskell

GeoSpock is big in Japan – data-wise and streetwise

Steve Marsh Geospock Cambridge Big Data

It’s not recorded whether GeoSpock founder Dr Steve Marsh speaks Japanese  but when it comes to handling big data, he certainly talks the same language.

On a recent visit to Japan, Dr Marsh discovered an automotive manufacturer that had 60 million connected cars reporting location on a second by second basis and was unable to cope with the data. 

He says: “Large scale cloud manufacturers are not able to take that data in and have no clue how to do it because they are reliant on old school technology. 

“Luckily we saw this coming five years ago and we told them we had a solution – the GeoSpock system was already running at the petabyte scale. “Our platform is proven to scale up and has unique properties in that regard. No matter how big the data gets we always get sub-second responses out of it.”

Japan figures large on the Cambridge big data specialist’s radar. The company has Tokyo-based VC firm GlobalBrain as an investor.

As one of Japan's biggest VCs they have accelerated GeoSpock into the Japanese market as well as driving traction in other Asian markets. They are moving fast and looking for next-generation solutions. 

Business Weekly understands that GeoSpock is holding strategic talks with all the big auto and telco players on the planet. 

Dr Marsh says: “Automotive and telecommunication companies are on the verge of generating exabytes of connected car and mobile device data, but the current data technologies simply can't keep up. As a result they are missing out the hugely on the valuable upside of high-fidelity contextual data that can help power future smart city and smart mobility solutions. 

“GeoSpock saw this problem coming five years ago and has built a ready-made extreme-scale data platform to power the Operating System for the Physical World.”

Business Weekly further understands that another major fundraising is around the corner for a business we have backed as a global gamechanger since inception. While the round has not yet been physically launched, pre-expressions of interest are bubbling. It was only near the end of February that GeoSpock took its Series A to $13.2m: expect a major bolt-on to that in the Series B.

It is well publicised that GeoSpock has developed an operating system that it says will “do for the physical world what Google did for the online world” through “organising, analysing and visualising” huge amounts of data in real time. 

Steve Marsh formed  GeoSpock in 2013; he originally came to Cambridge in 2010 to complete a PhD project to build a custom super computer to carry out real time simulation of the human brain. 

He soon realised he needed to focus on a software solution and developed one that could simulate the human brain in a second. He began developing the system with a group of developers in his living room in 2010 and took this to neuro scientists who said he was 25 years early with the idea.  

This didn’t put him off, he told an audience of investors and partners at an open day at the company’s expanded and refurbished HQ in Cambridge. 

“I was excited that the Internet of Things was on its way and self-driving vehicles were coming down the road. There was going to be a demand to produce extreme amounts of data.”

This has proved to be the case and the company has grown to 40 staff with the aim to upscale to 100 or 150 in the next year. 

CEO Richard Baker said: “The world has changed from a human data generated one to a machine generated one. We have a company in Cambridge that’s on the brink of taking on the world. The world is changing around us and the way that industry thinks about its data is becoming increasingly important.” 

Funded by some Cambridge angels and VCs the business has been building slowly but surely. “We’re now really looking forward in the next 18 months to getting a return on that investment,” Baker added.

GeoSpock CEO, Richard Baker

The company has developed a number of products with a few more to go. “At the heart of this is a database business built for machine to machine data,” said Baker. 

“This is extreme data that’s always on and always interacting and it’s loading up databases around the world in a very accelerated way. The challenge is how do you visualise that data, understand what that data is saying and how do you build analytics and services around it to be able to go along and make that data useful for more services and for more applications?”

The first applications the company is addressing are Adtech and Smart Cities. 

Steve Marsh says: “We’re looking at new ways we can help the world become slightly better; ways to make cities smarter, greener, healthier and less congested.”

The GeoSpock system is already running at the petabyte scale. Dr Marsh says: “We run benchmarks comparing ourselves to the latest GPU solutions. They run out of memory pretty damn quick. At five billion data points our nearest competitor falls off a cliff. We’re already running at nearly a trillion data points and it’s only going to get bigger.”

Currently, he said, humans had to adapt to our physical environment, but in the future that physical environment should adapt to our usage and our demands. 

He gave the example of an ambulance and how currently to reach its destination it needs to find its way via vehicle to vehicle or human interaction causing possible fatal delays. 

“When we have a logical layer that can bridge these two worlds we can stop all the traffic. That patient can now be saved.” 

One of the key things GeoSpock has always been determined to do with the system has been to democratise it. 

Dr Marsh says: “We can allow governmental organisations to focus on reducing congestion in certain areas or reporting pollution readings. We can allow startups to come along and build digital twins. 

“We can predict weather patterns affecting traffic flow. We know that whenever it rains in Cambridge everyone gets off their bikes. 

“If we can see a weather front coming in over the Atlantic we know that the problems of the city are going to increase on the congestion side. If we’re running shared public transport fleets why not nudge that behaviour?

“If you get in your car today you’re going to be delayed, but there’s a bus arriving at 8am that will get you to work on time.

“We’re at the start of the journey, but we’ve solved some core technology problems, processing extreme amounts of data really quickly. organising, analysing and visualising all the data that’s being produced from the physical environment and this is only going to be more necessary in the future.”

• PHOTOGRAPH AT TOP OF PAGE: GeoSpock founder, Steve Marsh

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