MFBI Technologies: Processing Large Point Clouds Using Global Mapper & the LiDAR Module

The final map of a project area using the combination of general topo information, precise ortho photography, infrastructures, a height grid, and manually generated vector information.

This case study explains how MFBI Technologies, a provider of UAV and 3D modeling for project development, used Global Mapper and the LiDAR Module to efficiently and affordably process large point clouds and other data to create final maps for the planning of truck rest areas.

Data for Safe Truck Stop Locations

MFBI has a long established history in system and information technology. They have a keen understanding of their customers’ needs, and they saw that the UAV industry would bring a new level of excellence to their services. Michael Frings, MFBI general manager, invested considerable time and effort into developing this service offered by the company. His work won MFBI a contract with ARC Truck Centers, an investment firm from Hamburg, to tackle a significant transit issue in Germany: the need for adequate rest areas for the truck traffic that flows through the country.

Topo map
Topo map of the project area with added data, including property boundaries, sewer lines, gas pipes, and communication infrastructure

Because of its central location on the European continent, Germany has an extensive network of truck routes crisscrossing the country. The large volume of traffic overburdens the current truck stops, which are situated close to autobahns and major highways. MFBI, in conjunction with a local land survey company, is working to provide precise geographical information to assist with the siting of modern truck stops that will provide drivers with much needed safe, secure places to stop and rest.

A combination of a Path Profile analysis and an automatic algorithm shows breaklines in point cloud data.

Need for Efficient Data Management

After winning the ARC contract to conduct UAV surveys of thirty new truck stop locations, MFBI faced several obstacles: coordinating with the other contractors on the project, understanding what GIS products are of the most value to the project investors; and obtaining all the necessary approvals for UAV flight operations.

MFBI used a Multi- rotor Trimble ZX5 hexacopter to conduct the survey. However, special permission was needed to fly the drone within 100 meters of the highway. Even after permission was granted, the two-person teams sent to complete the project had to be accompanied by police to ensure the safety of vehicles on the highway.

Flight planning was critical to the venture; the teams needed to make sure their time in field was productive and efficient. The project required the point cloud to be embedded with vector data gathered from local municipalities to aid in planning and data processing. After the flights were completed the challenge of data processing and management arose. The demand for survey data increased, as well as the need for efficient and accurate software that could easily manage the data. Furthermore, a large dense point cloud needed to be processed in a short time frame. For this project the point cloud would ultimately contain over 110 million points.

The final step in the process would require the delivery of data, including point clouds and accurate 3D models, to the architect and the developer working to design the projects for the client.

Terrain analysis that compares manually set points with automatically calculated ridge line profiles

Maximizing Productivity at Low Cost

MFBI quickly recognized that Global Mapper and the LiDAR Module were ideal for their workflow. The versatility of the software allowed them to maximize their productivity and minimize their costs. However, according to Michael Frings, processing power was the most important factor in choosing Global Mapper and the LiDAR module software. In a recent conversation with Blue Marble’s President Patrick Cunningham, he said, “Simply, the fact that the LiDAR module is so powerful gives us the possibility to handle these large point clouds. That was the killer argument to go with Global Mapper.”

“The fact that the LiDAR Module is so powerful, giving us the ability to handle these large point clouds, was the killer argument for us to go with Global Mapper.”
Michael Frings | General Manager

Global Mapper at Work

Global Mapper and the LiDAR Module were essential to MFBI’s workflow. Michael Frings and his team took advantage of the streamable data services available through Global Mapper’s Online Data function. The team imported topographic and municipal boundary maps to plan for the flights of their drone. They were able to calculate how many flights were needed and make notes of any potential areas of difficulty.

Once the collection process was completed, and the photogrammetric analysis had been performed, Global Mapper was used to classify the point cloud, automatically identifying ground points and other surface types. After filtering the non-ground points, a precise terrain model was generated. The processing power of the LiDAR module was critical, as it easily handled the large files that MBFI created. They then used Global Mapper’s Ridgeline and Path Profile tools to identify and delineate breaklines in the terrain.The team generated elevation layers at five to ten meter resolution but also received requests for grid resolutions as fine as one meter. Finally, the team created 3D PDFs providing a simple and effective way for the customer to visualize the project.

 

About Global Mapper

Global Mapper is an affordable and easy-to-use GIS application that offers access to an unparalleled variety of spatial datasets and provides just the right level of functionality to satisfy both experienced GIS professionals and beginning users. Equally well suited as a standalone spatial data management tool and as an integral component of an enterprise-wide GIS, Global Mapper is a must-have for anyone who deals with maps or spatial data. The supplementary LiDAR Module provides a powerful set of tools for managing point cloud datasets, including automatic point classification and feature extraction.

About Blue Marble Geographics

Trusted by thousands of GIS professionals around the world, Blue Marble Geographics is a leading developer of software products and services for geospatial data conversion and GIS. Pioneering work in geomatics and spatial data conversion quickly established this Maine-based company as a key player in the GIS software field. Today’s professionals turn to Blue Marble for Global Mapper, a low-cost, easy-to-use yet powerful GIS software tool. Blue Marble is known for coordinate conversion and file format expertise and is the developer of The Geographic Calculator, GeoCalc SDK, Global Mapper, LiDAR Module for Global Mapper, and the Global Mapper SDK.

Blue Marble Monthly – Global Mapper vs ArcGIS

Product News, User Stories, Events, and a Chance to Win a Copy of Global Mapper Every Month

If there is one question that we are asked more than any other it is this: “How does Global Mapper compare to ArcGIS?” Coinciding with the annual gathering of Esri devotees in San Diego, we shed some light on how Global Mapper stacks up. The bottom line: you get a lot more for a lot less! Also in this edition of Blue Marble Monthly, we introduce Blue Marble’s official reseller in France, we offer some suggestions for enhancing your summer wardrobe, and as always, we give you a chance to win a copy of Global Mapper in the Where in the World Geo-Challenge.

LiDAR Data in Global Mapper

GLOBAL MAPPER | No Extensions Required

Using ArcGIS and need to create a terrain model? You’ll need an extension for that. What about calculating volumes or generating contours? Ditto. Global Mapper gives you all this and much, much more right out of the box. Check out the latest blog post from Chelsea Ellis to find out more.

 

PROJECTIONS | Blue Marble Summer Fashion

Someone once said, “You are what you wear”. Or maybe it was, “You are what you eat”. Whatever! In any case, in today’s world of high fashion, we present you with smart, low key alternatives. For summer fun, laughs, and t-shirts check out the latest from the Blue Marble Emporium.

 

DID YOU KNOW? | Global Mapper Mobile is Free

Considering ArcGIS for field data collection? Did you know that Global Mapper Mobile is available free of charge and offers disconnected access to critical data layers, field data collection capability, and mobile digitizing? This easy-to-use app is available for iOS and Android devices.

 

RESELLER SPOTLIGHT | Geom@tique – Our French Partner

Based in the spectacular French Alps, Geom@tique recently celebrated 20 years in business (Bon Anniversaire de Blue Marble). In this month’s Reseller Spotlight, we ask company owner Alain Olivier to share some insight on the business and the importance of its partnership with Blue Marble.

 

VIDEOS | Rendering Vector Data in Global Mapper

Data visualization is one of the fundamental functions of a GIS. In the latest Global Mapper webcast, we explore a variety of workflows for customizing the display of vector layers to reveal spatial patterns in the data.

This and previous Blue Marble Webinars and Webcasts can be viewed at the Blue Marble YouTube Channel and on the Webinars page on the Blue Marble web site.

 

Where in the World Geo-Challenge

Contrary to the suggestion of at least two Geo-Challenge entrants in June, the county to be identified was not, in fact, Wakanda. Tom Hughes from HuGIS GeoSpatial Ltd. was not one of these people and he will be receiving a copy of Global Mapper as the first randomly selected entrant with all five correct responses. Check what Wakanda should have been along with the answers for the other four locations here and test you geographic knowledge in the latest Geo-Challenge.

 

See complete terms and conditions here.

EVENTS | BMUC in Maine & Training in Germany

Since we turned 25 this year, our Blue Marble User Conference in Portland, Maine  on September 21 is gearing up to be a special one. We’re also looking forward to our German partner “screen & paper GmbH” conducting Global Mapper Training in Freising, Bavaria this November.

Be sure to register for BMUC Maine, while seats are still available!

 

Rendering Vector Data in Global Mapper

Data visualization is one of the fundamental functions of a GIS. The display characteristics of features on the map can convey a wealth of relevant information about the data, its relationship with other geographic information, and its inherent spatial patterns. In the latest Global Mapper webcast, we explore the various options that are available for visualizing or customizing the display of vector data.

The specific topics covered in this presentation include:

  • Manually adjusting the display of a layer or of a select group of features (06:57)
  • Using Feature Types to automatically assign colors to frequently mapped objects (19:58)
  • Assigning random colors to features in a layer (29:52)
  • Applying colors to reflect instances of a recurring attribute (31:47)
  • Applying colors to reflect numeric values (42:41)
  • Visualizing data using a Density Map (54:21)
  • Visualizing numeric attribute data in a graph (59:56)
  • A quick look at labeling (1:04:26)

If you have questions about any of the workflows or topics covered in this presentation, email: geohelp@bluemarblegeo.com.

For licensing or sales questions, email orders@bluemarblegeo.com.

To download an evaluation copy of Global Mapper, visit: www.bluemarblegeo.com/products/global-mapper.php

Where in the World June 2018 Answers

How Well Did You Do?

Name the island – Hispaniola

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the capital city – Stockholm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the body of water – San Francisco Bay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the country – Botswana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the stadium – Luzhniki Stadium

 

Where in the World Geo-Challenge – July 2018

View the form at Google Forms >

Reseller Spotlight: Our French Distributor Géom@tique

A screenshot of a flythrough video that follows the potential path of a ski lift, showing the visible areas of a famous peak in the Maurienne Valley (Aiguilles d’Arves), France.

The translation of Global Mapper into French in 2016 significantly expanded the potential market for the software, not only in the country of France itself, but also throughout the French-speaking world. This monumental task was undertaken by Blue Marble partner and reseller, Géom@tique. In the latest Reseller Spotlight, we hear from company founder, Alain Olivier about how this partnership has helped his company grow over its 20-year history.

Tell us a little bit about Géom@tique?

Géom@tique has been a GIS software reseller just over two decades. Our twentieth anniversary was on April 7th, 2018! The company is based in one of the most beautiful mountain regions of France: Savoy. We provide a combination of geomatics expertise and a high level of service, which has proven itself to many French-speaking customers around the world, particularly in technical support and training. Our business involves the distribution of software as well as related consulting, support, and training services in the use of both vector data and raster data (satellite, aerial, LiDAR, etc.). Géom@tique is the exclusive distributor of Global Mapper in France and for the French language version throughout the world.

How many people currently work for the company?

Three people currently work at Géom@tique in well-defined roles: sales, technical support and training, communication. The company relies on partnerships whenever necessary and plans to continue recruiting in the near future.

How did Géom@tique get started?

Alain Olivier

As a young agricultural engineer who had just become a Doctor of Geography (PhD), for me, it was an easy transition from university life to the business of distributing innovative tools for geomatics and cartography. Spotted by the software company, Avenza, via a professional forum (a relatively new online gathering place for like-minded individuals at end of the 1990s!), a simple mail exchange accompanied by a brochure from the SVM MAC magazine (number 91, “MAPublisher: entre cartographe et dessinateur”) was enough for the MAPublisher adventure in France to begin. This was a risky venture as there were only a handful of customers at the time! The company timeline illustrates the expansion of the company’s business with new products being added and, most importantly, the establishment of close links with their creators in order to always meet the needs of customers as efficiently as possible.

The history of Géom@tique.

Tell us a little about your background in GIS?

The company benefits so from my experience and expertise as a doctor in geography who is also passionate about computer science. My PhD thesis focused on the implementation of an innovative raster mapping methodology for the study of agricultural spaces. My taste for cartographic tools goes back a very long time with an extremely diversified use of geomatic tools at the beginning, and then a specialization on the tools that Géom@tique would eventually resell, notably Global Mapper! The company has also recruited a PhD student geographer who has good experience with GIS tools, including Global Mapper and MAPublisher.

What are your target markets?

Our target markets are extremely varied and include cartographic publishing, spatial planning, defense, energy, environment, archaeology, transport, risk prevention, meteorology, communication, and spatial analysis.

What geographic area do you cover?

Historically the company has sold products to organizations of very diverse geographical origins that extend from Madagascar to Tromsø, but generally in metropolitan France or in French-speaking countries.

Distribution of Géom@tique customers in France and around the world.

How long has Géom@tique been reselling Global Mapper?

Géom@tique was officially appointed as a reseller (Certified Reseller) in the early 2000s with the distribution of Geographic Calculator and Global Mapper. We are very proud to have translated Global Mapper into French in 2016 (version 17) following a request from the French Ministère des Armées. In the same year, one of our employees became a certified trainer for Global Mapper. As an ongoing project, we are also working on the major task of translating all of the Global Mapper documentation.

Why were you originally interested in reselling Blue Marble products?

 We were interested in reselling Blue Marble products for the originality and the quality of its products as well as for the very good reputation of the company.

What is your favorite feature of Global Mapper?

 Choosing just one tool is difficult. Here are my three favorites:

  • The 3D Viewer allows visualizing terrain data in an extremely simple and powerful way. We have seen its usefulness in many situations especially when they work with the LiDAR Module.
  • About the LiDAR Module, the new Pixels-to-Points tool is a “little gem” since it allows integrating real photogrammetry treatments in Global Mapper. We know that many of our customers use UAV images and this tool is perfect for them.
  • Finally, the Viewshed tool is very important to many French users. It is used in a wide variety of fields (energy, defense, research, etc.).

The video below was produced by one of our employees as part of a Master’s research project. It follows the potential path of a ski lift and also shows the visibility areas of a famous peak in the Maurienne Valley (Aiguilles d’Arves). In a research context, this video clearly demonstrated how a particular visualization method could help decision makers communicate with their citizens.

 

What has been your most interesting or challenging sales or support experience?

Our most challenging sale was with the Ministère des Armées and especially with the implementation of a multi-year contract for Global Mapper. It was a big challenge that took a long time to negotiate but resulted in a very favorable outcome for both parties. As a result of this contract, Global Mapper gained its spurs in the military field and with the continued development of the LiDAR Module and the SDK, we are confident it will have relevance for years to come.

Other than reselling Blue Marble software, what other services do you provide?

We are a reseller of other software complementary to Global Mapper like MAPublisher for example – and we provide training (online or on-site), technical support, and some research or consultation services.

How has your partnership with Blue Marble benefited your business?

Our partnership with Blue Marble Geographics has allowed us to increase our level of professionalism and to significantly expand the scope of our business. Geom@tique brings its in-depth knowledge of the French and Francophone market, including cultural considerations. This mutually beneficial relationship will, of course, be continued and strengthened, in particular by reciprocal visits.

How do you see your business growing with Global Mapper? New markets?

We believe that there is a huge opportunity to spread the word about Global Mapper to universities and to introduce students to an alternative GIS software. The more they can be trained at the university on Global Mapper, the more it is great for the promotion of the software in many markets.

Any final words?

The diversity of software tools and the wide variety of users that the company works with every day is a real strength that helps the company to provide better services. In October 2017, Geom@tique embarked on a research project under an Industrial Research Training Agreement which will allow it to deepen its knowledge on the use of the tools, with the goal to better meet the current and future needs of the customers.

Géom@tique was present at the beginning of July at the GeoDataDays 2018, the first digital geography show in Le Havre, France.

Our 25th Summer: Blue Marble Clothing Tips

Welcome to summer! The heat is here and so is the Blue Marble Emporium. We are celebrating our 25th summer as a company and we have some merchandise for our fans! From hitting the beach to hitting the streets we have the t- shirts for you. Our new top five shirts will provide you with fashion tips that will Hundo P* improve your summer!

Are you off to the lake? Well we have the look for you!

Mind the Gap Between World and Map T-Shirt

Simply add a fedora, dark glasses, and compass to complete the look!

Compass tattoo, shades, and fedora

 

Did you forget the sunscreen? Cover up in style!

Notorious BMG T-shirt

A scarf and your phone or tablet put a twist on this classic look.

Tablet with Global Mapper Mobile installed, and a scarf

Hitting the links this summer?

Later Mercator polo

I have no suggestions for this, but this handy golf style article does!

Are you basically 30? So are we! Here is the perfect outfit to stay home in!

We’re Mappy and We Know It (25th Anniversary) T-shirt

Just pair it with:

Netflix and cozy sweats

Need a little California style?

GIS is Not a Four Letter Word shirt

Make this look your own, but be on the lookout for these two sporting similar t-shirts on the streets of San Diego!

Blue Marble employees Kat and Danielle at the EsriUC in San Diego in 2017.

Disclaimer: Wearing a shirt from the Blue Marble Emporium may not actually make you look like the models in this article.

*Hundo P – One hundred percent sure of something

*This article was written by a millennial.


Rachael Landry

Rachael Landry is one of Blue Marble’s license gurus on the official Sales Support team. She is one of the people you are most likely to work with when you call or email our office, and she is always ready to answer your questions.
Please send all your fan mail to orders@bluemarblegeo.com.

Blue Marble Monthly — June 2018

Product News, User Stories, Events, and a Chance to Win a Copy of Global Mapper Every Month

As with any significant anniversary, Blue Marble’s 25th birthday, which we celebrate this month, offers an opportunity for us to look back at how far we have come while inspiring us to look forward to the next 25 years and beyond. The early impetus behind Blue Marble’s growth was the development of Geographic Calculator, a geodetic application that, at the time, filled a void in the rapidly expanding field of geospatial technology.

To pay homage to the important role that Geographic Calculator has played and continues to play for the company, in this month’s Blue Marble Monthly, we take a look at how the application has changed over time. We also hear from a couple of Blue Marble’s technical staff members as they help us navigate Geographic Calculator’s expansive Datasource; we introduce Blue Marble’s strategic partners in South Africa; and as always, we challenge your geographic prowess in the monthly Where in the World Geo-Challenge.

ON TURNING 25 | A Letter from Our President

Patrick Cunningham
Patrick Cunningham

Little would Jeff Cole and his compatriots have anticipated that the startup company they established in 1993 in a small town in central Maine, would grow to the extent that it now boasts hundreds of thousands of customers in virtually every country in the world.

As we pause to reflect on the path that has brought Blue Marble Geographics to this point, it is worth taking a moment to acknowledge two groups of people without whom the journey would not have been possible. First, we must recognize the efforts of the many staff members who have contributed their talents over the years. For those who have moved on to other pursuits, rest assured that although you are no longer with Blue Marble, you have left an indelible mark on the success of the company. Second, it goes without saying that we could not have succeeded without our loyal customers. You invested in us and hopefully we have been able to provide you with a viable return on that investment.

Later this month, Blue Marble will be hosting a 25th birthday party for both current and former staff members as well as some key partners and customers. While we cannot invite everyone we’d like to see to this celebration, we hope you can be there in spirit as we look forward to the next 25 years.

Patrick Cunningham
Blue Marble President

PROJECTIONS | Geographic Calculator after 25 Years

Since its founding, Blue Marble Geographics has been synonymous with Geographic Calculator. Indeed, for many years, the application was known simply as the Blue Marble Desktop. This innovative software was introduced at a time when companies and organizations were embracing geospatial technology and were facing the inevitable challenges that managing the resulting datasets incurred. The first versions of the Geographic Calculator were relatively basic although the underlying geodetic processing technology was largely the same as it is in today’s release.

To help shed light on some of the more significant changes that have occurred over its 25-year history, we asked Sam Knight, Director of Product Management, to list the five most important differences between the early and most recent versions.

 

DID YOU KNOW? | Moving a Global Mapper License

Application licensing is one of the inevitable tasks faced by virtually all software developers. Ensuring that each user is legitimately authorized to use the software provides the necessary finances for companies such as Blue Marble to continue to innovate and to expand the capability of the software. This is very much a win-win situation. License violation, on the other hand, not only inhibits Blue Marble’s ability to improve the software, it is also, well, stealing.

So while some may regard the licensing process as inconvenient, it is a necessary inconvenience. That said, Blue Marble offers a number of creative solutions for streamlining the licensing process, including offering the option to move a license to a new computer.

 

RESELLER SPOTLIGHT | South Africa-Based SMC Synergy

Many business strategists have suggested that Sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s new economic frontier and with this in mind, Blue Marble is fortunate to have a well-established strategic partner in the region. South Africa-based SMC Synergy is the latest company to feature in the Reseller Spotlight and recently shared some insight on their business, which is increasingly focused on the growth in use of Global Mapper in the region.

 

VIDEOS | Navigating the Datasource in Geographic Calculator

The Datasource has been described as the epicenter of Geographic Calculator. It is fundamentally a database containing the detailed definitions of every conceivable variable that can be used in the geodetic calculation process. In the Datasource, you will find over 5,000 projected coordinate systems; over 1,800 coordinate transformations; over 500 horizontal datums; and much more. To the uninitiated, it can be an intimidating component of the application so in a recent webcast, Blue Marble technical staff members Jeff Hatzel and Scott Webber provided some navigational assistance.

This and previous Blue Marble Webinars and Webcasts can be viewed at Blue Marble YouTube Channel and on the Webinars page on the Blue Marble web site.

 

Where in the World Geo-Challenge

May’s Where in the World Geo-Challenge was, unlike the two preceding editions, controversy-free. Seemingly few were overly challenged as almost all correctly identified all five geographic locations. The first randomly drawn name and winner of a copy of Global Mapper is Marnie Dunbar from OGL Engineering. Check out the answers here to see how well you did.
This month another copy of Global Mapper will be given away so why not try your luck.

 

See complete terms and conditions here.

TRAINING | LiDAR Workshop in San Diego

Are you heading to San Diego for the Esri UC in July? Why not take a break from the conference for a day and join us for a hands-on LiDAR workshop? Scheduled for July 12th, the workshop will cover all aspects of LiDAR processing from editing and filtering to feature extraction. It will also offer a chance to try out the new Pixels-to-Points tool. Space is limited so be sure to reserve your seat as soon as possible.

Upcoming Events

European Association of Geoscientists & Engineers Annual 2018
Copenhagen, DK | June 11 – 14

Global Mapper & LiDAR Module Training
Seattle, WE | June 19

LiDAR Workshop
San Diego, CA | July 12

Blue Marble User Conference in Maine
Portland, ME | Sept 21

 

Navigating the Datasource in Geographic Calculator

The Datasource in Geographic Calculator contains information on all coordinate systems, datums, transformations, and associated components. Understanding the structure of the Datasource and how to access it are key to fully utilizing Geographic Calculator’s capabilities. This video will walk through the structure of the Datasource, covering how and where objects are stored and will address navigation when choosing coordinate systems and transformations within a job (selection mode), after first getting into the details of the Datasource’s structure in edit mode.

The examples covered in this video can be applied to any object in the Datasource. If you have questions about any of the workflows or topics covered in this presentation, email geohelp@bluemarblegeo.com.

For licensing or sales questions, email orders@bluemarblegeo.com.

To download an evaluation copy of Geographic Calculator, visit: www.bluemarblegeo.com/products/geographic-calculator.php

Reseller Spotlight: South Africa-Based SMC Synergy

SMC Synergy
Dirk Pretorius (second from left), Blaise Kumba (third from left), and Renier Balt (center at a recent customized Global Mapper training session.

Thus far, our Reseller Spotlight series has taken us from Northern Europe to South America. This month, we shift our focus to the African Continent as we hear from Renier Balt from South Africa-based SMC Synergy. Widely regarded as a challenging market to penetrate, Africa has seen a significant expansion in the use of Global Mapper over recent years thanks in no short measure to the efforts and endeavor of Renier and his partner, Dirk Pretorius.  We convinced Renier to take a short break from his Global Mapper outreach efforts to share some insights into his experience working with Blue Marble.

Tell us a little bit about your company, SMC Synergy?

SMC Synergy based in South Africa, was accepted as a Reseller of Blue Marble Geographics in May 2013 and is the preferred distributor of Global Mapper GIS software in Africa. Our experience in the fields of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing applications in all sectors (such as Agriculture, Environment and Mining) spans more than 30 years.

SMC provides Global Mapper training, accredited by Blue Marble and the South African Geomatics Council (SAGC), and provides maintenance and support for specific requests and requirements.

Global Mapper is the preferred GIS software for SMC as well as many other organisations. The reasons are ease of use, affordability, excellent mapping tools, links to online data, many import and export formats, the availability of the LiDAR module, the release of Global Mapper Mobile and the excellent support from the Blue Marble staff.

Being a reseller of Global Mapper software enables SMC to establish strong relationships with clients, both locally and globally, and integrate the products, services and expertise of this excellent GIS software into our whole product and service offering.

How long has the company been in business?

SMC has been in business since 2002 starting with GIS consulting and focusing on mineral exploration. South Africa is a mineral rich environment, which provides many opportunities in this field.

What are your target markets?

We target many markets including:

  •         Agricultural Development (Land capability assessments and farm land use planning projects in South Africa and Nigeria)
  •         Environmental monitoring and evaluation including various environmental monitoring projects for the Department of Environmental Affairs in South Africa
  •         Mining and exploration including diamond exploration
  •         Civil engineering projects
  •         Infrastructure development
  •         Academia including various projects with the North West University (NWU) and University of the Free State in South Africa
  •         And many more…

What geographic area do you cover?

See map below – Expanding our footprint into Africa has been an important objective, and it grows continuously. Providing complete product support and service to clients is key. Clients need training and we have found the webinars and online tools available from Blue Marble are excellent for this purpose. Usually our African clients also need public or customised training to complement this. Training therefore is a key component of our marketing strategy to expand the Global Mapper footprint in Africa.

SMC Synergy
This map of Africa shows SMC Synergy’s growing customer base.

How long have you been reselling Global Mapper?

SMC was officially appointed as reseller in 2013. Prior to that we were long-time users of Global Mapper and have been using and recommending the software since version 8.

Why were you originally interested in reselling Global Mapper?

The combination of functionality and price – the catch phrase then was “Your GIS Swiss Army Knife”, and it lived up to the promise. Being able to create print quality maps within a day of first contact with Global Mapper software speaks volumes of the intuitive and user friendly interface.

There are many other key features: 3D visualisation has been impressive and unique and the continued improvement and updating of this functionality ensures this remains a key product differentiator.

What is your favorite feature of Global Mapper?

It is impossible to choose, but we can highlight the 3D functionalities and analyses available, and most are nowadays available with one click icons.

The ability to easily access Web Map Services and datasets from many sources globally was a reason why we found Global Mapper an attractive option – and the options keep growing steadily for free or affordable data.

Then the LiDAR Module grew in stature and functionality; the recently added Pixel to Point option is, in our view, a game changer.

With the recently improved attribute search functionalities none of the alternative GIS platforms can compete at this price point.

Add to this Global Mapper Mobile available on both IOS and Android devices, and the Global Mapper platform provides a full suite of tools that fits the pocket of our target market segment.

By using the software in practice in our many projects, we have made many recommendations to the developers of Global Mapper and have been impressed with the responsiveness. Many of our proposals for improvement are now available in the software. Kudos to Blue Marble and the developers.

SMC Synergy
A Global Mapper training session lead by the team at SMC Synergy.

Other than reselling Blue Marble software, what other services do you provide? Training etc?

Our focus, in addition to Reselling Global Mapper, is GIS consulting. The Global Mapper software remains our primary communication and implementation tool.

Training is key for providing a complete product and service for our clients. We are able to support clients in French speaking countries, which helps to expand our footprint for the whole of Africa. Countries in West and North Africa are responding well to our ability to service them in their language of choice.

Our expertise extends to data and we know where Satellite imagery can be sourced, while considering its timeliness, availability and cost implications. We can therefore support clients to make decisions how and where to get affordable and fresh data for their applications.

With the advent and growth of available Drone imagery and LiDAR data, we are able to advise clients about these new technologies, both for visionary and creative applications as well as supporting mainstream clients.

How has your partnership with Blue Marble benefited your business?

Global Mapper is an important focal point of most of our business activities:

  •         It complements most of our projects.
  •         It links with our spatial database applications (Intermon – the NRM Intervention and Monitoring System) which makes use of cloud based database applications to support the Natural Resource Monitoring Program of the Department of Environmental Affairs. (http://www.intermon.co.za/ for more information).
  •         Capacity building and training of interns is a crucial activity. Exposing the next generation of GIS experts to Global Mapper is the most affordable GIS training option available. We also support post-graduate initiatives at the Northwest University and other academic institutions.

How do you see your business growing with Global Mapper? New markets?

Global Mapper, through our reselling efforts, must become the GIS software of choice in all African countries. We want to increase sales and support to all African countries with a 100% footprint on the continent. We aim to present training courses on Global Mapper in the major cities on the continent and to promote the visibility of this GIS software to all of Africa.

SMC Synergy
The team from SMC Synergy and Agence Congolaise des Grandes Travailles (ACGT) collecting data at a construction site for the Pixel to Point Tool in Global Mapper.