The changing marketplace of geomatics

In ForestTECH, Issue12 by FIEA

The changing landscape of the mapping and surveying profession brings new challenges, even for a renowned manufacturer of geospatial instruments like Trimble. In view of the growing role of BIM, the rising demand for complete workflow solutions and the challenge of extracting meaningful information out of the immense volumes of point clouds derived from Lidar data acquisition, it is clear that geomatics is in transition. ‘GIM International’ touched base with Ron Bisio, vice president of Trimble Geospatial, to discuss how his company is approaching the new geospatial reality.

Data capture and analysis solutions are increasingly based on software that can also be used by generalists rather than geospatial specialists only. How are you responding to this evolution? Innovation can fail if it doesn’t clearly benefit workflow and take into account all stakeholders. Trimble is always thinking about getting the workflows right and developing solutions with more automation and data processing capabilities that can be easily adopted by customers of all kinds, including non-geospatial professionals.

Geospatial software providers play a role in making sure the data is shareable through a cloud solution and uses automation to bring understanding to the desks and devices of the professional, who then delivers it to the customer. For instance, Trimble Clarity, a cloud-based solution, allows anyone to use, analyse and annotate imaging data without specialised software. We really want to make sure technology brings customers into their domain, not the opposite.

Now that software is increasingly bridging the gap between sensor-captured data and the answers organisations are looking for, does this mean that Trimble will focus more on software development and less on hardware development?

Because Trimble has a footprint in both hardware and software, we are uniquely positioned to facilitate the two-way exchange between the physical and digital worlds. We continue to develop hardware to meet market needs for advanced data collection and stakeout, but software is also a key element of most of our solutions. In fact, across Trimble, we have more software developers than hardware ones.

Over time, we have redefined our technological focus from hardware-driven point solutions to fully-integrated work process solutions. We haven’t lost our passion for hardware innovation, though. As evidenced by the Trimble SX10, our scanning total station that blends traditional point collection with laser scanning and image capture, we continue to focus on meaningful innovation in hardware and software.

Today’s customers not only want new solutions, but they also want them in ever-shorter time spans. How do you keep pace with this trend?

We are moving from a phased approach to geospatial data towards more integrated, real-time collection and analysis of the data. With more processing power available in the field, it becomes easier to bring quality control to the data. The expectation of real-time data is growing, so we need sophisticated geospatial solutions that immediately process the data and do more for the user, without them even knowing it.

The cloud gives us further power to process data, so data-intensive processes can be conducted in the background, while geospatial professionals can focus on high-value analysis. We anticipate an elevated role for artificial intelligence to extract and interpret information. We also imagine that Lidar data will eventually be extracted from autonomous vehicles to track maintenance of street lamps and road damage and to notify crews of the need for repairs before safety issues occur.

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