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“I foresee the future of photogrammetry in large scale accurate data collection”

Jacques Coulombe
President & CEO of DVP
Jacques Coulombe, President & CEO of DVP shares his views about DVP products, trends, opportunities and challenges before photogrammetry


  • We would like to know what influenced the rise of DVP-GS as a major firm in Photogrammetry since its inception in 1990?
    As you probably know, the first version of DVP originated from Laval University (Québec city) in 1988. In those days, it was under DOS and, believe it or not, it ran on a 286 PC. Since, DVP has always been improved in order to keep up with the progress of Windows and the ever more powerful hardware components which were inexistent in those early years. But I believe that one of the most important factors in our progress is the fact that we do not only develop the software, we also use it for our own production needs. The result is non-stop development of production oriented software products that are now well known and used worldwide in more than 60 countries. DVP has always developed its products for standard computers and components that can be used as standalone workstations or directly interfaced to the major CAD/GIS software. This helps reduce the purchase cost because there is no need for third party software. We have been told many times that our products were quite versatile as they could be adapted to any of the 4 different stereoviewing systems and almost any curser motion device. So, maybe DVP’s practicality and flexibility makes it the very popular DPW (Digital Photogrammetric Workstation).
  • DVP Geomatic Systems Inc. roots lies in the research programmes in the universities. How does it see the role of leading research institutions in building more robust and better systems for Photogrammetry?

    For most systems and especially with DVP, the mathematical models, equations, algorithms and others which are in fact the motor of the software, have been appropriately developed by numerous universities and rendered ‘robust’ from the very beginning. The ‘mathematics’ are well now known and have been ‘tamed’ by most developers and programmers. The accuracy of DPWs which was debated for years is now also well understood by most users. In my opinion, the qualification of ‘robust’ should now be given to a stable, bug free and user-friendly interface, something we take into great consideration at DVP. So, what is left for universities or research institutes? In my opinion, the future of research is mainly in imagery, in the development of new GPS/IMU applications and digital cameras.

  • Since the launch of DVP station in 1990, the overall picture of photogrammetry is completely different from what it was a decade ago. Comment

    . I will make the following distinction. Indeed, DPWs and related products have much improved, but other than for the production of orthophotos, most of the photogrammetric mapping is still done with analytical stations, worldwide! The extensive use of DPWs as a mapping tool is still to come in this industry. On the other hand, the venue of DPWs introduced photogrammetry to a totally new crowd of users such as survey engineers, city planners, GIS managers, etc. Fortunately, this market is growing because of the democratisation of photogrammetry brought by software such as DVP.

  • ‘Softcopy Photogrammetry’ was a new term in 1990s and it has evolved to a point where we have organisations offering courses on ‘Softcopy Photogrammetry’. What role do you think DVP-GS played in the emergence of softcopy photogrammetry?

    DVP products are used by more than 120 Universities and technical institutes in more than 50 countries. We believe that DVP’s popularity in this milieu is in part due to its origins at Laval University. You will most probably remember also that Leica, who was DVP’s exclusive distributor for 8 years, promoted our products as an ideal tool due to the rigorousness of its mathematical solution. Indeed, the algorithms used by DVP are the same as those that have been used and taught for years by university and college professors. These algorithms are also the same that are used in analytical and semi-analytical stereoplotter. This, I believe, is an important parameter for educational establishments. DVP is also ideal to teach the fundamental principles of photogrammetry because it offers modules for all the basic components of photogrammetry as we know it.

    It is important to underline that at DVP, we offer generous discounts to the educational establishments. Moreover, DVP does not require any hardware component; for vectorisation, the standard mouse is sufficient and the stereomodel can be viewed using the anaglyph viewing system for B&W as well as colour images which is offered at no charge to any customer. Needless to say, this technology has been used many years by the world mapping community for everyday mapping and is still being used by some.

    Another factor is that DVP has developed tutorials that are an important asset in an environment where new users is an annual fact of life. The goal for most educators is not to teach how to use a specific software, but to teach the theory that lays behind the application, in this case digital photogrammetry.

    Last but not least, DVP offers programmers access to its vector database and mouse generated data through COM plug-ins. COM is a protocol with which the great majority of software are compatible. Therefore, educational establishments have the opportunity to add functions to DVP through research and development, student projects and others, an almost daily fact in higher education.

  • The products section of DVP website speaks of Forestry Application, does it mean Photogrammetry has deep roots in forestry or is it DVP having deep roots in forestry?

    In Canada and in other countries, where the forested areas are important, foresters have always used simple photogrammetric tools for their daily work; inventories, management, road planning, etc. DVP actually began developing such tools due to the increasing Canadian demand from the two most forested provinces; British-Columbia and Québec. In the beginning, they used our standard mapping software but their true need was to replace the old “zoom transferscopes”. So the DVP programmers rolled up their sleeves and adapted the “photogrammetric package” to the foresters needs.

  • DVP Geomatic Systems Inc has come-up with an innovative lease/purchase option. Is this plan applicable in India/Asia?

    Our lease/purchase option is applied worldwide on our Stereo Station (DVPSS). It can be summarised as follows: there is a required initial payment of 3 000 $ (US) in order to obtain the software . The package is then delivered with 100 hours of use time. It includes a hard lock key or dongle which calculates the time of use., The user can, at any time, purchase packages of 100 hours of use time at the price of 7$ (US) per hour. The customer ill have full ownership of the software once he has purchased 2 000 hours of use time or after 3 years owning the software, whichever comes first. The user is entitled to the same privileges as any other client, namely free maintenance and support. . But do remember that our lease/purchase option is a financial plan proposed to help small firms starting up a new activity and to encourage existing mapping companies to take the step, slowly but surely, toward softcopy. I would not recommend this plan for companies that already have important contracts and, by ricochet, many compilation hours.

    About India and Asia, this plan is very much applicable. In fact, we have expanded our worldwide network and have recently opened up DVP Geomatic Private Limited our Indian subsidiary having its registered office at New Delhi, India. Mr. Mr.Jayanta Chatterjee has been appointed the Managing Director. The company will also be responsble for Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Mauratiues.

  • What opportunities and challenges do you foresee for photogrammetry?

    In my point of view, I foresee the future of photogrammetry in large scale accurate data collection in urban areas for cadastral applications (tax maps), engineering work such as road planning and restoration, city management etc. I expect that it could take another 5 to 10 years of development in imagery (shape recognition) to produce reliable tools for automated mapping. Until then, I believe that urban mapping will still have to be done manually by human operators. In this respect, our DVP is the most cost effective DPW on the market at the moment.

  • What impact do you foresee in the photogrammetry market with the launch of high-resolution satellite imageries?

    Satellite images were announced a few, if not many, years ago. But so far, very few are available and the expectations are still great. The pixel size is getting smaller and smaller but its positional inaccuracy is still quite large. I believe that they will play an important role in small scale mapping but, given that 80% of the mapping is at large scales, aerial photography still has a very important future. Whatever the case, an image is an image and most digital photogrammetric software will use any image as long as its orientation and positional parameters are known. So I would be tempted to say that the question is not the source of the image but the true accuracy of the data that can be derived from it. I foresee the future of photogrammetry in geo-positioning of information with an accuracy of 10 cm or better.