India: Low-flying planes fitted with cameras, sub-contracted by Indian company Rolta, would be seen hovering over skies in the Middle East over the next few months clicking snapshots of the landscape. These shots will be used to create 3D “intelligent” digital models of cities, which will also capture intricate details of even insides of buildings.
These models would be the foundation for the city planners to carry out sophisticated analysis for town planning, disaster management, emergency response and traffic management, said AP Singh, board member and principal advisor, Rolta. The company, which was awarded this multi-million dollar project, and is now expected to sign the contract soon, is among the many Indian companies vying for a share of the evolving, highly-lucrative geospatial markets in the Middle East and North America.
Companies are deluged with requests from governments and public utilities to offer intelligent maps which integrate data from different sources – an exercise which involves mapping of terrains, creating real-life visuals of the inside of buildings and integrating details on these 3D models. With the size of these contracts growing from roughly USD 2 million two years back to around USD 50 million today, geospatial majors are developing technologically sophisticated products and solutions to keep abreast with competition.
Indian companies Rolta, Infotech Enterprises and Magnasoft are vying for a share of this fragmented market which, say industry sources, is worth USD 10 billion in India and Middle East alone and likely to grow at 12 per cent over the next 5 years. The heightened activity in this sector is mainly triggered by the cash-rich Middle Eastern countries which are investing heavily on creating 3D models of their cities to help them manage their assets better. Several counties in North America are also in the process of opening up contracts to upgrade their existing mapping formats to more intelligent models. “North America already has a digital mapping system in place.
However, these are quite outdated and they are now interested in upgrading the existing platforms with the latest software,” said SA Laxminarayanan, COO (content business), Infotech Enterprises. Besides town planners, specific agencies like the city police are interested in 3D models to map out crime-prone areas of a township to tackle crime, he added. Rolta was awarded an over USD 31-million contract in which they, along with a team of partners, will be managing the assets of the largest three-service municipal utility in the US – the Memphis Light Gas and Water. This is part of Memphis” efforts to replace their 22-year old asset management support system.