I visited the IGN Research Department today in Paris, and it was interesting to see the different approaches to solving similar research questions.
For a similar sized organisation, IGN has a much larger Research Dept of 100 people, compared to the 30 at the OS. Much of this research is funded by the French Government as part of the Institutes National role as the centre for geographical expertise.
Where at the OS we try to make use where possible of commercial tools and equipment, IGN build more of their own tools, including their own digital air camera for example, and their own software tools.
I was very impressed by the quality of research work taking place, some very clever algorithms are been developed to extract features automatically from imagery and is a clear area of joint interest with the OS. As this work is publicly funded all work is published and made available to the wider community.
What was very noticeable at IGN was less emphasis to market focused research which is important to the OS, in particular understanding user needs to develop new products and services does not seem to be as important – my guess is that although where share many similar problems to solve, because of the different funding models of our two organisations, the focus is slightly different.
Written and submitted from the lounge at Paris CDG airport, using the Orange wifi broadband internet connection.