4DMapper Emphasizes the Importance of Cloud-Based Data Management and the Role Global Mapper SDK Plays in Their Processing Platform

4DMapper is a cloud-based geospatial platform for enterprise, providing customers with workflow tools for asset inspection, virtual surveying, photogrammetry, and geospatial analytics.

The Global Mapper SDK has empowered countless software developers to create a wide array of powerful and innovative geospatial applications and none more so that Australia-based 4DMapper. Recently, Blue Marble teamed up with 4DMapper to produce a video illustrating common workflows in Global Mapper and how they can now be performed in 4DMapper’s cloud-based platform. We also chatted with COO, Paul Douriaguine about the company why they chose the Global Mapper SDK.

What is the story of 4DMapper? What products or services do you offer?

4DMapper is a cloud-based geospatial platform for enterprise, enabling customers’ 3D maps and models with workflow tools for asset inspection, virtual surveying, photogrammetry, and geospatial analytics. It lets you manage, visualize, process, share and collaborate on your geospatial data… all this with just a web browser!

From its early days, 4DMapper’s mission has been to make geospatial data readily accessible to professionals and non-technical decision makers alike. By doing so, we are helping our customers unlock the value of their geospatial data for their enterprises.

4DMapper Pty Ltd is an Australian technology company formed in early 2014 by highly experienced geospatial professionals Rob Klau and Adam Chabok. At the time geospatial data was processed on desktops, required expensive hardware, highly specialist skills to interpret, and was very slow and unwieldy to move around (typical delivery was via hard drive in the mail). The duo recognized a void in effective delivery of geospatial data to people who need it. Joined by a group of elite software engineers (ex-Google lead techs) they’ve developed a platform for streaming these massive files without the need for expensive software or hardware. The First version of 4DMapper was released in July 2015.

4DMapper environment
The 4DMapper environment with tools on the left. 4DMapper offers tools for photogrametry, LiDAR analysis, terrain analysis, and image analysis powered by the Global Mapper SDK.

Can you explain the name? What are the four Ds?

4DMapper is a set of tools and workflows to accurately map our physical world and bring it into the powerful world of virtual surveying and 3D asset inspection, geospatial analytics, artificial intelligence, and big data.

As for the “D”s – the first three “D”s are the dimensions of our physical world, accurately represented via absolute geospatial coordinates. The fourth “D” is to capture the change or variability of the world, being as it changes over time (e.g. repeat inspection of a mining site or building rooftops), change of a particular attribute of real-life objects (e.g. corrosion or fault detection on cell towers) or some other variability of metadata about the real-life object (e.g. pattern recognition in mineral exploration, NDVI analysis in agriculture, geospatial analytics in mapping and surveying applications)

4DMapper's Layer Manager
A 3D model of a crash site in 4DMapper’s layer manager environment.

Why do you think it is important to be able to manage geospatial data on the cloud?

There are many reasons for cloud’s growing popularity. The three most important ones in our view are:

  • The Cloud empowers – elastic computing and infinitely scalable data storage removes the need for expensive software and hardware driving significant savings for the businesses
  • The Cloud connects – it’s ability to facilitate business transactions creates numerous win-win opportunities and drives growth for geospatial providers and their customers
  • The Cloud enables – it makes data readily available to people who need it when they need it, thus unlocking the value of geospatial data and insights for enterprises

When did you first become aware of Global Mapper?

Like many other geospatial professionals we have grown with Global Mapper, first came across it at university when doing surveying / photogrammetry / remote sensing degrees many years ago, have been using it ever since.

Why did you choose the Global Mapper SDK to provide 3D data manipulation tools to your users?

Global Mapper provides a set of powerful tools, and it has been a de-facto industry standard and a tool of choice for many professionals for decades. When we looked at the options – the choice was obvious.

Processing Services in 4DMapper
The Processing Services dialogue box in 4DMapper shows the photogrammetry, LiDAR analysis, terrain analysis, and image analysis tools that are powered by the Global Mapper SDK.

Your website talks about how 4DMapper was conceived in response to the lack of affordable and effective ways to deliver geospatial data to people who need it. What are some of the challenges you faced in the GIS industry leading up to the first release of 4DMapper in 2015? And what challenges are you facing today?

4DMapper was conceived to tackle a major problem of efficient delivery of large geospatial data to people who needed it. When the first version of 4DMapper was developed and released in 2015, we quickly came to the realization that it was some years ahead of its time and the market wasn’t quite ready for it. The cloud offering was immature slowing its adoption by conservative industries such as mining, building and construction, insurance, and government. At that point in time, most of the serious geospatial software was still available on desktops only, cloud processing was a novel idea with no major vendors offering cloud-based photogrammetry or analytics services. 4DMapper’s team has worked with some of the major vendors assisting them with the development of their cloud offerings.

The world of geospatial has moved on since those days. Cloud is becoming well accepted not only for data storage but for processing alike. However, a new challenge has emerged in that the advancements in geospatial data acquisition technologies seem to be outpacing data management and processing capabilities creating a so-called data deluge. Now the penny has dropped, and the fast-growing demand for information is driving the increased requirement for keeping geospatial data management tools simple and intuitive.  Luckily, 4DMapper’s approach to working with geospatial data was exactly that – usability has been a primary concern to keep the tools simple and intuitive yet sophisticated and powerful. These days there is a proliferation of point solutions, multiple unconnected tools, highlighting a need for an enterprise-grade geospatial platform.

Contours Generated by Processing Service
Contours overlaying this 3D model were generated using a service powered by the Global Mapper SDK.

What Global Mapper SDK functionality do you think is, or will be, most useful or popular among your users?

The whole suite… that’s the nature of Global Mapper, it’s not just one tool – it’s a professionals’ toolbox. 4DMapper would like to make most Global Mapper functionality available on our platform. So far we only released a small subset of Global Mapper tools as a pilot. We are looking for feedback on what you would like to see prioritized for the upcoming releases.

Can you share an interesting or surprising project that you’ve seen your platform used for?

We don’t get to see the data our customers host on 4DMapper. Our customer data always belongs to them, we recognize the importance of data ownership and take data security and privacy very seriously. Unless our customer’s share their projects with us, we don’t have visibility of them.

Having said that, one of our recent projects that went viral when the customer shared it on social media was a beautiful 3D model of a Fire Department training center. The mesh model was created using Bentley Context Capture, a data format natively supported by 4DMapper (we also support Agisoft, Autodesk, and soon Pix4D models). When posted on LinkedIn the project instantly gained a lot of eyeballs for its accuracy, elegancy, and a visual appeal.

We have many other interesting projects that have been shared with us by the customers from all walks of life – large mining sites, agriculture farms, rooftop inspections, powerlines, bridges, offshore oil and gas platforms, critical infrastructure, and large scale high-accuracy 3D models of major cities. 4DMapper is a scalable enterprise platform for managing a wide variety of geospatial data.

How do you see the integration of the Global Mapper SDK into your online platform impacting your future business development?

Integrating Global Mapper SDK is a major step toward realizing our vision of building an ecosystem that would connect geospatial professionals and facilitate business transactions. Only launched as a pilot, Global Mapper tools already generating interest from our existing customers. We can only imagine what it will be like when more Global Mapper tools are made available on 4DMapper.

What do you think the future of geospatial data processing and delivery looks like?

Geospatial is again a rapidly evolving industry. We don’t have a crystal ball to predict the future, but there are some trends we are seeing that are likely to continue and accelerate:

  • 3D is rapidly becoming a new norm, so is cloud-based delivery and collaboration
  • majority of geospatial data will be stored on the cloud, data processing will undoubtedly follow suit and move to the cloud too
  • simplicity and usability will be a major requirement as geospatial data gets higher adoption and becomes more relied on by non-technical decision makers

Blue Marble and 4DMapper Collaborate

Recently 4DMapper and Blue Marble Geographics collaborated on an online webcast. A recording of this presentation is available here.

For more information on 4DMapper or to sign up for a free trial, visit http://4DMapper.com

Reseller Spotlight: Laurent Martin from EngeSat



Laurent Martin of EngeSat

Blue Marble’s worldwide customer footprint could not have been achieved if it weren’t for the hard work of our network of business partners and software resellers. These dedicated individuals and companies provide a local presence in areas of the world that would otherwise have been out of reach. For their part, these partners have been able to establish successful businesses, both reselling and providing services on behalf of Blue Marble. This is certainly the case for EngeSat, a Blue Marble partner based in Brazil. For the latest in our Reseller Spotlight series, we recently chatted with EngeSat’s Director, Laurent Martin.

Tell us a little bit about EngeSat.

EngeSat was established in Curitiba, capital of the state of Paraná, southern Brazil. We began our business as a satellite image reseller in July 1997, nearly 21 years ago. At that time, the best commercially available imagery had a spatial resolution of 10 meters. That is still our core activity, but we now also sell software, develop some thematic applications, and offer data processing according to client specifications.

Chelsea E | Projections
EngeSat was established in Curitiba, capital of the state of Paraná, in 1997.

What are your target markets?

Our goal is to serve any potential user from all economic sectors: private, public, academic, and non-profit, whether they be in the geoprocessing industry or not. The common thread is their need to manipulate geographic information and to have direct access to data (satellite imagery, DEMs, etc.), tools (software, training), and to be able to apply this technology in their day-to-day activities. Of course, we have many long time well-established geoprocessing, consultancy, and engineering companies among our clients. Every day, new clients discover how easy it is to use Global Mapper for their projects and do geoprocessing on their own instead of depending on an external labor force.

What geographic area does EngeSat cover?

We basically serve Latin America — Mexico to Argentina, and some other Portuguese and Spanish speaking countries around the world.

I understand that you are a native French speaker. How challenging is it to work in Spanish and Portuguese?

I am a dual French and Brazilian citizen so Portuguese is not a problem. I began speaking Spanish in 1986 on a trip to Mexico, and my Spanish is getting better every day because I use it constantly and I love this language. However, I will confess that I rely also on a partner in Mexico, Ignacio, to proof read and edit text I write in Spanish for marketing, technical circulars, and publications. For everyday activities, I work in Portuguese, Spanish, English, and French.

Why were you originally interested in reselling Global Mapper?

My first contact with Global Mapper was in 2007, through a Brazilian business partner. We began using Global Mapper to help in preparing technical and commercial proposals for satellite imagery for our clients. We started offering Global Mapper to our clients as well but just as a data delivery tool.  By 2010, the sales volume had increased and we needed a strategy to meet the demand. At that time, we placed orders for Global Mapper directly through the online electronic commerce system. Now we work directly with Blue Marble to manage the ordering process. In recent years, because of my personal interest in developing efficient solutions, we realized we could do much more than what we were doing with Global Mapper and also with the LiDAR Module when it was added, so it has become an increasingly important part of our business.

Chelsea E | Projections
EngeSat’s Laurent Martin says that he loves everything about Global Mapper and often tells his clients “Global Mapper will do everything you need, except serving you a cup of coffee”.

What is your favorite feature of Global Mapper?

I love it all. It is intuitive, straight forward, powerful, and solid. I love Global Mapper because I am able to do everything I want to do in terms of data processing in our projects. I often say to my clients, “Global Mapper will do everything you need, except serving you a cup of coffee”. But who knows, maybe Mike Childs is already working on that feature. Among so much functionality, the challenge is sometimes finding the right tool in the extensive menus and remembering how to find it again when needed. But as I use Global Mapper every day and I attended an official Global Mapper training class, it seems very straightforward.

You have translated Global Mapper into both Spanish and Portuguese versions. What effect has this had on your business?

The translation to Spanish has been available since version 17. Thanks to my partner Ignacio in Mexico who keeps updating new versions. The Portuguese version is a work in progress since I began working on it last year. It is about half way done and I want to complete the Portuguese version in the next few months.

The Spanish version is very much appreciated among Spanish speaking countries and it is definitely an excellent marketing asset, as it helps Spanish speaking users to fully explore the technical potential of the software. Thanks to the Global Mapper Sales Team who redirect inquiries from Latin America, sales have increased significantly and many clients even ask to migrate from a recently purchased English version to the Spanish version.

I would recommend to other Blue Marble partners around the world that they develop a version in their native language in order to get full access to their local market and create additional value for their business. Initially, it represents a significant quantity of work and time but it will provide immediate and permanent benefits.

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

We provide training in Portuguese and Spanish. We offer application development and turnkey projects as well using satellite imagery, drone data, data processing and interpretation. We maintain a Portuguese language web page focusing on Global Mapper and a YouTube channel called Global Mapper Class South America, which helps keep the user community and customers informed of the last developments.

To complement Global Mapper, we offer satellite imagery from major satellite imagery providers worldwide. Selling software is a profitable and fast growing part of our business and we will keep investing in that direction as it still offers great potential.

How has your partnership with Blue Marble benefited your business?

Blue Marble is the best company I have worked with for supporting partners in a commercial network. We talk every month about commercial and technical issues, not to mention the day to day support from the sales team. My questions are usually answered in just a few hours, sometime in minutes. In this context, business is made very easy because the communication is ongoing, information reaches me quickly, and orders are fulfilled on the same day or the day after. Being responsive is undoubtedly a great advantage and it helps us win the full satisfaction of our clients. Blue Marble provides many commercial leads within our region, and I am able to take care of those immediately. To say it in a few words, the level of commercial confidence and technical collaboration is very high, which has a direct benefit for sales.

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

As new versions of Global Mapper are being released with new functionality, such as the recently launched Pixels-to-Points tool in the v.19 Lidar Module, the market expands to new areas. Many of our clients in the energy and urban planning fields are now using Global Mapper, and agriculture and environmental management are strong business sectors.

We offer Global Mapper and the LiDAR Module as an affordable and complete solution to a large variety of users, from independent consultants to large corporations. As geoprocessing is becoming more and more widespread and used in many different sectors, Global Mapper will continue to be a must have tool.

For more information on EngeSat, visit www.engesat.com.br

Reseller Spotlight: Andreas Haux from screen & paper GmbH

screen & paper logo
screen & paper GmbH is a Global Mapper reseller that focuses on data processing and GIS-based cartography.

Blue Marble’s global network of partners and resellers are an essential component of the company’s business development strategy. With just over thirty full time employees, most of whom are based in the company’s headquarters in Maine, Blue Marble’s worldwide reach would be severely inhibited if it weren’t these dedicated companies and individuals. Partners are selected, not only because they have demonstrated an ability to expand the company’s business, but also because of their genuine enthusiasm for Blue Marble’s products. Besides simply selling the software, most resellers are actively involved in the GIS community in their region and often offer training and other professional services to their customers and clients.

Andreas Haux of screen and paper
Andreas Haux of screen and paper GmbH

As an acknowledgement of important role played by these partners, over the coming months we will be publishing a series of reseller spotlights in which each partner company will have an opportunity to share some information about their business in a question and answer format. We begin in Germany with screen & paper GmbH, whose Managing Director is Andreas Haux.

1. Tell us a little bit about screen and paper?

screen & paper is a company that not only distributes GIS and digital cartography software, but also uses the products itself, with a focus on data processing and GIS-based cartography. Software development for the internet has established itself as an additional focus of the company.

2. How long has the company been in business?

screen & paper was founded back in 1993 so it is almost as old as Blue Marble Geographics.

3. What are your target markets?

The great scope of Global Mapper is one of the reasons why the product is aimed at a wide range of users. Surveying, cartography, industry, supply, as well as government and education are screen & paper’s core markets.

4. What geographic area do you cover?

Germany, Austria and German-speaking Switzerland are the areas in which screen & paper operates.

5. How long have you been reselling Global Mapper?

2004 was when we first discovered Global Mapper and we were so enthusiastic that we immediately requested and were approved to become a reseller of the software.

6. Why were you originally interested in reselling Global Mapper?

First of all, Global Mapper was the ideal tool for preparing data for further processing in cartographic tools such as MAPublisher. Since we also distribute this software, we have included Global Mapper as an addition to our product offerings.

7. What is your favorite feature of Global Mapper?

Like most users, I am amazed by the enormous range of geospatial data that Global Mapper can read and write. But going deeper into the functionality of the software, my favorite feature is the ability to control so many functions via scripting.

Script Processing in Global Mapper
The Run Script command allows users to run a Global Mapper script file that they have created. This is a powerful option that allows the user to automate a wide variety of tasks.

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

We provide German language support for the software and offer training and workshops, focused on the special demands of the customer. We are also developing web-based software and support customers in preparing their GIS data fulfilling their special needs.

9. How has your partnership with Blue Marble benefited your business?

Global Mapper has become the primary focus of screen & paper’s software distribution since the beginning of sales activities in 2004. Due to the large range of functions of the software, the continuous development, and the fast and reliable support in the sales and support area, a steadily growing base of satisfied customers has established itself. In addition, by translating Global Mapper into German and constantly dealing with the software, the company’s own knowledge grows continuously.

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

We expect new markets to develop, especially in the processing of UAV-collected imagery and more generally in the generation and processing of point cloud data. Again, the wide range of functionality will help open the door to new markets in the future.

11. What motivated you to undertake the task of translating the software into German?

We were quite familiar with the English language and the special technical terms of GIS. However, Global Mapper offers a range of text-based functions so a German user interface is simply more accessible to the German-speaking users. And to us as well!

12. Any final words?

I’m quite tempted to share many more words about Global Mapper. But actually, I can summarize by saying that I’m nothing more than a satisfied and enthusiastic customer!

For more information on screen & paper, visit www.screen-paper.de.