Home Articles There is increased demand for direct digital capture

There is increased demand for direct digital capture

Greg Tilley

Greg Tilley
President, VARGIS LLC

Mr Tilley has 30 years of experience in the fields of GIS, RS, environmental planning and business management. He has been responsible for successful performance of numerous projects, including statewide mapping programs in Texas, Virginia and New York. Mr Tilley has received recognition for his contribution to GIS from several organizations. He shares his views with [email protected]

How would you comment on the trend of demand for mapping services, and especially Photogrammetry and digital aerial photography?
We are seeing some upswing in demand for photogrammetry services in the last few months, and I think that will continue through 2005. Most of the demand is in the government sector, with key drivers including homeland security, e911 addressing, and base map updates. Local government budgets have been improving due to the rise in property values, which drives local tax revenue. We are also seeing a rapid increase in demand for direct digital capture of aerial photography. Some RFP bids are now requiring digital and many indicate a preference for digital over film.

Where do you see the future of photogrammetry in the coming years? What are your observations on the geospatial industry in general and its current characteristics worldwide?
The transition from analytical to softcopy photogrammetry is now almost complete, and transition from film to direct digital capture is just beginning. That transition has been a long time coming, but will now occur quickly with digital overtaking film in the next 3-5 years. Direct digital is also accelerating the pace of process automation. We are getting close to push button workflow on AT, DEM’s and orthos. DTM’s and planimetrics however will remain manual processes for the foreseeable future.

Despite significant growth of the geospatial industry in the last 5 years, I believe it is a technology driven industry that is still looking for significant commercial applications. Most of the revenue continues to come from large end users in government and public utilities. Real growth will come when the technology can be incorporated seamlessly into commercial applications. That is now happening with LBS applications, but those are still a small part of the total industry.

What are the key mapping and photogrammetric services offered by VARGIS? Which are the key application areas/industries where VARGIS has delivered its services?
Historically VARGIS has been known as a major producer and supplier of digital ortho imagery. While imagery still a significant part of our business, we have diversified considerably in recent years to offer a full range of services including planimetrics, contours, LiDAR, etc. Since our acquisition by Infotech last year, we are also offering data management, conversion, migration and software application services. A majority of our business is with civil government clients in the US, although we are beginning to make significant progress offering our new services to utilities.

In January 2004, VARGIS LLC became a wholly owned subsidiary of Infotech Software Solutions. What was the idea behind the merger and how has this merger benefited in the overall functioning and service delivery?
Infotech Software Solutions is a US subsidiary of Infotech Enterprises Limited (IEL), and the direct parent of VARGIS. The merger has given IEL more direct access to end clients in the US, and has benefited VARGIS by expanding our service offerings and access to IEL’s significant delivery resources. However, some of our government clients prefer that work be performed in the US, so we continue to use a combination of US delivery assets to meet those requirements.

How would like to comment on the Asian market in specific, with respect to the surveying and mapping needs of the region? Any plans for this region?
I don’t have in depth knowledge of the Asian market, and would not want to presume to know more than your readers. Our parent company, Infotech Enterprises, Inc., (IEL) is actively providing geospatial services to the market. VARGIS will be supporting Infotech in that market, but will be actively approaching it on our own.

Most of the revenue continues to come from large end users in government and public utilities. Real growth will come when the technology can be incorporated seamlessly into commercial applications

Comment on availability of trained manpower in photogrammetry sector. How do you view the industry-academic- institute interface of this sector?
I believe the industry has had excess capacity in recent years, particularly due to the growth of skilled workforce in India and China. This, combined with increased automation and productivity, has caused downward pressure on pricing of photogrammetric services worldwide. I believe (and hope) we have hit the bottom of this trend, as inefficient or unprofitable production facilities have been downsized. The workforce size and pricing should be more stable going forward. In the US, most of the skilled photogrammetric workforce is trained by the industry, not by academic institutions. Basic GIS, cartographic and CAD skills are taught. These skills are helpful, but not a prerequisite for the development of photogrammetric technician.