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‘LiDAR and 3D mapping have huge potential to provide useful and accurate data for precise project planning

Rajesh Paul, President, Excel Geomatics, India

Established with an aim to provide consultancy and value added services using fast growing geospatial technologies, Excel Geomatics has carefully chosen its fields for almost no or very less competition. Rajesh Paul tells us more about the company’s offerings and plans for the Indian market

Kindly brief us about the vision behind the establishment of Excel Geomatics and its activities?

Excel Geomatics was established with an aim to provide consultancy and value added services using fast growing technologies like remote sensing, photogrammetry and LiDAR in the least competitive application areas of agriculture, animal resources, minerals and mines, forestry, sustainable development, disaster management, telecom, defence, infrastructure etc.

Careful choice of these fields has resulted in almost no or very less competition for us. Secondly, understanding the value of higher education, we recruited mostly employees having degrees in subjects like remote sensing & GIS, geology, environment, geography, and engineering etc., which helped us to handle and deliver variety of projects with quality.

Today we feel proud in saying that we have more than 80% of our businesses as repeat business from our clients located in 12 countries. We are expecting to retain all our existing clients and add clients from 4-6 new countries during the year 2015.

Your offerings include upcoming technologies like Lidar and 3D mapping. What prospects you see for such technologies in India?

Both LiDAR and 3D mapping have huge potential to provide useful and accurate data for precise project planning and better management of the project. Some project planning and designs are now based on LiDAR and 3D data. The use of these technologies is going to increase in future and will definitely grow in different areas, such as planning for smart cities, assessment of properties for tax collection, power-line mapping, irrigation canal network planning, route alignment projects, landslides, building story mapping, flood mapping etc.

However to further enhance the prospects of these technologies, on one hand, there is still a need of creating awareness among the users, so that they fully understand and exploit the great potential of 3D data, while on the other hand, relevant government authorities should come up with rules/laws, so that permissions for acquisition of such data using platforms like aircrafts and UAVs can be granted easily, and that too in short time period.

One of your services is infrastructure mapping. Does that also include underground infrastructure mapping?
No, currently we are not doing any underground infrastructure mapping. Our infrastructure related projects is limited to 3D mapping of terrain and buildings using satellite stereo-pair, but will extend to aerial and UAV images.

In addition to the existing partners, are you looking at entering into VAR partnership with more global geospatial technology providers?
We are currently value added reseller of RapidEye satellite imagery for the entire world, except for India. We are also partner with Pitney Bowes, and are proposing their different software to our clients and prospects. We may include one or two more of such products in our portfolio, but as such there is no any aggressive plan to do so.

Your company has been involved in a project / pilot study for the Ganga River basin. Can you tell us about the geospatial prospects for the Ganga River Basin management and activities for which geospatial technology is currently being used?
Yes we did a ‘Temporal Change Analysis Project’ along the River Ganga, wherein we used archive and latest satellite images at an interval of approximately 5 years to understand the temporal changes happening in the 5km buffer zone of the River Ganga, right from Gomukh to Ganga Sagar. In this study, we also used high resolution satellite images available in public domain to map nalas (sewers)/waste water effluents merging in the Ganga, in selected 15 cities and towns situated along the River course.
If we use UAV to take high resolution geo-referenced images of Ganga River corridor, it will be possible to accurately visualize in computer environment, the entire corridor of the Ganga with detailed information of nalas and sewages falling in the river, houses, factories, industries, roads and other features in very quick turnaround time. These images can be then studied by the experts to understand the existing scenario in different sections of the corridor and locate different sources causing pollution in the Ganga River. With the help of these high resolution images, they can then work out the best plans and measures to be taken to curb or reduce pollution in the Ganga River. This could be the quickest way to collect data and start planning.

Excel Geomatics has tie-ups with many countries in Africa for various projects. Can you tell us more about your foray into the African market?
My personal interaction with the African market started way back in the year 2006 when we won ADB funded project in Cameroon, competing against French and German companies.

Excel Geomatics, since its inception, has been focussing in the African market and has already done several projects related to agriculture, forestry, mineral exploration, climate change, construction material mapping, flooding, and mapping updates. We competed and signed a contract for ‘mineral potential mapping of entire country of Sudan’, though this project is stuck due to lack of funds. Recently we also completed ‘National Topographical map-sheet Updation’of an African nation in West Africa.’

We have developed partnership in nations like Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Sudan, Senegal, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Nigeria. We have also participated in some projects with our local partners in Ghana, Botswana and Kenya. The basis of our strong partnership in Africa is our approach of strengthening our partners through ‘Capacity Building.’

Apart from Africa, we have also developed strong partnership in the US, Lebanon, Bangladesh and Kazakhstan.

What are your future plans vis-a-vis competition for the Indian market?

For the Indian market, we have plans to focus on products, more than services. We have already created ‘village boundary map’ of the entire country with Census 2011 information, attached to it, which can be used for various planning activities.

We have also come up with a unique product, wherein we have combined spatial information from latest satellite images andpopulation information from Census-2011 to show the spatial distribution and density of population at every 15m GSD. Further, we have plans to prepare the PIN code boundary for each ‘Postal Code’ of our nation. These products are good geo-marketing tools and will help customers in e-commerce, banking and retail sectors.

Additionally we also want to venture into aerial data acquisition market in India and have tied up with an international company to provide aerial services in India. Last year we, along with our local and international partners, we were involved in the acquisition and processing of ‘thermal data’ in India.