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We understand imagery from acquisition to presentation

Bob Morris

Bob Morris
Leica Geosystems
GIS & Mapping


Bob Morris, President, Leica Geosystems GIS & Mapping has extensive experience in developing new businesses and product lines as well as a broad knowledge of the GIS industry and markets. He shares his views on Leica products and prospects of GIS market in Asia

What is the vision of Leica Geosystems GIS & Mapping ?
We firmly believe that the importance of the use of geospatial imagery will continue to grow. As access to imagery from satellite and airborne sources improves, the demand for easy-to-use solutions for capturing, referencing, measuring, analyzing and presenting this information will come with it.

We see a growing need for sensor fusion, and with that comes the need for data fusion, ultimately providing our customers with the most productive tools for a wide variety of applications based on geospatial imaging. Leica Geosystems is committed to maintaining its leadership in this area with a high focus on broadening the user base for these technologies and solutions.

Leica Geosystems GIS & Mapping attempts to ‘expand the value chain with image-based solutions and focus on the fast-growing market of GIS.’ In relation to this statement, please you elaborate on your product development strategies ?
Our primary goal is to continue developing products that provide our customers with highly productive visual data acquisition systems and comprehensive image processing and manipulation software to create and use imagery in new and better ways. We will continue to provide the fastest, most accurate and easy-to-use remote sensing, geographic imaging, photogrammetry, aerial data acquisition and data processing products available to the market.

For example, with our latest releases, Image Analysis™ for ArcGIS and Stereo Analyst® for ArcGIS, we worked closely with our longtime business partner ESRI, the world leader in GIS software, to bring our customers products that can prepare and create ‘GIS-ready’ images for use in extraction and analysis of spatial and non-spatial information as well as update and create accurate and reliable feature datasets to use in a GIS.

Additionally, the Leica Photogra-mmetry Suite, to be released in Fall 2003, will bring to the market a seamlessly integrated suite of digital photogrammetry products in which users can transform raw imagery into reliable data layers required for all digital mapping, CAD applications, GIS analysis and 3D visualization.

We understand that you have formulated the Geospatial Imaging Chain concept- can you explain on the concept and the purpose behind it ?
The Geospatial Imaging Chain defines how imaging is performed and managed. The Chain consists of capturing, referencing, measuring, analyzing and presenting data in a format that is useful to our customers. Leica Geosystems is the expert in creating products that make image-based maps. Our longstanding reputation as technology leaders and our solid position at the forefront of this industry allowed us to define the Geospatial Imaging Chain, the definitive end-to-end workflow that turns data into information and information into knowledge.

Leica Geosystems provides the broadest and the most advanced capabilities across the entire Geospatial Imaging Chain.

You recently sneak previewed the Leica Photogrammetry Suite. Can you brief us on the purpose and the target group for this product line ?
The Leica Photogrammetry Suite will take our existing photogrammetry products and seamlessly integrate them into a digital photogrammetry product suite in which users can transform raw imagery into reliable information for photographic products, maps, 3D visualization and CAD or GIS data layers.

We listened to our customers who asked for a product that gave them enhanced productivity, was affordable, easy to use, and fit into their current workflow. Both novice and expert users will find the Leica Photogrammetry Suite to be a simple but comprehensive, fast and accurate process-driven solution.

What are the company’s strategy behind partnering with other key market players ?
Leica Geosystems always seeks to find the best ways to leverage the industry’s technology and enhance the Geospatial Imaging Chain. If that means partnering with successful companies that create products that complement our own, we will do so. There are many companies that have technologies, products, reputation and expertise that fit well with what we have to offer the industry.

For example, we recently partnered with Applanix Corporation and Emerge to resell the Emerge Digital Sensor System (DSS), a medium-format sensor that captures high-quality, digital rectifiable imagery, to round out our extensive range of cameras and sensors for airborne data acquisition.

Also, as I mentioned before, our Image Analysis and Stereo Analyst software applications leverage our technology to extend ESRI’s ArcGIS platform in the GIS market. By partnering with solid companies in the industry, we continue to provide the best possible solutions to our customers.

What gives your products an edge over the similar products available in the market ?
Leica Geosystems understands imagery-from acquisition to presentation. We have the knowledge, the manpower and the reputation as a technology leader to give us the leading edge. All of our products are planned, created and developed by some of the most talented and experienced engineers in the industry, many of whom have helped bring to the market industry-leading products such as the ERDAS IMAGINE® geographic imaging software suite, the LIDAR-based ALS50 Airborne Laser Scanner, the ADS40 Airborne Digital Sensor and more, to say nothing of the renowned industry workhorses such as the RC30 aerial film camera and the SD2000 analytical plotter. Additionally, we have a technical support team second to none in the industry. Our customers can always count on our support staff to respond to their needs promptly and effectively.

Simply put, our employees’ expertise and commitment to our customers coupled with Leica Geosystems’ solid reputation gives us the winning edge over our competitors.

We are aware that many of the products that perform the steps of the geospatial imaging chain are available from several suppliers. Our skills lie in integrating these together into a smooth workflow.

How do you perceive the spread and utilization of your technologies in the private sector and, more importantly, the government sector ?
In many Asian countries, the acquisition and utilization of airborne data is controlled by governments. As most of our technologies deal with the processing of information extraction from airborne or spaceborne image data, our primary focus has been towards national and state governments.

Recently, we have seen a boom in the establishment of GIS centers and application departments within national, regional and local governments. This increase in awareness of the use of a GIS database to manage our environment, infrastructure and natural resources has been met with a consistent demand for satellite and aerial data by these government agencies. It is safe to say that the spread and utilization of GIS and mapping technologies within the government sector continues to grow consistently.

In the past couple of years, we have also witnessed the emergence of private mapping companies in Asia. These organizations act as contractors for government organizations on various projects.

So as the need for imagery and scanning data grows, we see our technologies and solutions being utilized more by the non-traditional user. In both the private and government sectors, this means a considerably broader use in disciplines where the technology was previously not readily available.

What application areas (i.e. industries) are your primary focus, presently and in the near future ?
Within the Asian region, we perceive the greatest opportunity and need in a number of key areas. Infrastructure development projects using digital mapping as a core technology will continue to gain visibility and importance. Additionally, natural resource management projects for critical resources like forests, oil and gas, and minerals are vital to the region’s development and prosperity. We will also continue to focus on defense mapping projects, as these have become a high priority for many countries in the region.

In Asia, which market segments are you are looking at and what is your strategy to approach these markets ?
From a regional perspective, we continue to view China as a significant opportunity for Leica Geosystems. We have recently strengthened our presence in the region and will leverage the full capabilities of all Leica Geosystems divisions and their collective breadth of products and services unique in this industry. Focusing specifically on market segments, we see need and opportunity with infrastructure development and engineering, water resource and forest management and national defense (mapping) and security.

Our strategies for these market segments include teaming with industry partners and non-governmental organizations to increase awareness of how GIS and geo-informatics can help users perform tasks faster and more efficiently. We are also investigating various collaborative opportunities with research organizations and educational institutes to showcase applications where geospatial imaging, digital mapping and GIS play a key role.

As nations strive to improve the quality of life for their people, we see the incorporation of GIS within the core IT sector and infrastructure of various organizations. We see the GIS database with its “spatial awareness” becoming a key tool that allows governments and private organizations to better plan the use of resources,

In lieu of the increasing use of geo-informatics in the infrastructure development and governance, where do you see the recognition of GIS heading, especially in Asia ?
As nations strive to improve the quality of life for their people, we see the incorporation of GIS within the core IT sector and infrastructure of various organizations. We see the GIS database with its “spatial awareness” becoming a key tool that allows governments and private organizations to better plan the use of resources, deal with crime and disease and create a suitable infrastructure for their citizens. Virtually all information about our cities and countryside is spatially linked, making the GIS database a key repository of information for decision makers everywhere.

In light of the recession and persistent decline in market growth rates worldwide, how do you see the Geospatial market today ?
While it’s true that the economic slowdown and declining growth rates have hurt not only this market but the world economy as a whole, I believe this market is strong and will see a rebound in the coming years. The need for geospatial solutions comes from such a wide array of industries- everything from utilities, agriculture, forestry, transportation, telecommunication and urban planning to defense and local government-that the demand for these products and services continues to be fairly strong. This range of applications is so broad that they respond differently to macroeconomic conditions, providing an environment for growth in the geospatial industry, even if some of the end-user areas remain slow to recover.

We are excited about the growth opportunities for Leica Geosystems and the market as a whole. We have all weathered tough economic challenges, and we look forward to emerging from them with even better products and services for our customers.