His nickname is "Nadar" and he's recognized as the person who took the first aerial photo in 1858 over Paris, France. At the time, Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (Nadar), the French photographer and balloonist, likely did not envision the aerial imagery market would grow to exceed $3.4 billion. Yet, that's what Transparency Market Research projects by 2023 as reported in their recent research "Aerial Imagery Market: 2015 to 2023". What's driving the growth? At a high level: 1) new and expanding application areas, 2) the rising popularity of location-based services and 3) rapid developments in technology.
Indeed, advances in technology are making a big difference. When James Wallace captured "Boston, as the Eagle and the Wild Goose See It" from a height of 1,200 feet in 1860, he used 8 plates of glass negatives and only one survived. Today, massive amounts of imagery are streamed into the cloud within days of capture.
The uses of aerial imagery extend far and wide. State and local governments use it to plan, inspect and maintain transportation infrastructure. Roofers, solar companies, landscapers, pavers and realtors target new business, create proposals, measure distances and calculate areas. Architecture, construction and engineering firms envision how their design impacts real life. They mitigate risk and construction delays. Once complete, they continue to use aerial imagery for maintenance and operations.
The common theme is increased productivity. By reducing the need to send people on site, by accessing up-to-date imagery from your desktop or mobile device, by analyzing change over time, dozens of industry segments are dramatically increasing their productivity and impacting the bottom line. In a way, market growth is driven by this core factor.
According to Transparency Market Research, the North American region will lead growth globally. This market is projected to more than triple, reaching nearly $1.6 billion by 2023. While commercial applications rank second to government in revenue projections, the gap is narrowing as commercial use cases grow at a faster pace. Insurance companies in need of rapid, accurate claims management want to verify claims data alongside property features. New cloud-based services designed to inform, notify and navigate are sprouting wings including location-based mobile advertising. A wide variety of businesses have recognized that high-resolution aerial imagery delivers the economical solution to problems in sales, marketing and service.
Why is aerial imagery taking on greater importance today? The "clarity" of high-resolution imagery certainly needs to be considered. The details provide needed context to complete jobs sooner than expected with greater precision. There’s a strong argument to be made that "current" imagery is the key attribute. When it comes to business, no one likes surprises. Imagine using older imagery to assess a job site. Imagine requisitioning vehicles, people, and spending countless months on the road only to find out your imagery is misleading. At a time when everyone is asked to do more with less, legacy approaches sacrifice time, revenue and customer satisfaction. But the real power lies in a blended approach—the combination of current imagery, clarity and "change over time". Here are some examples demonstrating how organizations apply high-resolution aerial imagery today.
Forbes and William Pentland reported that "The solar power industry is in the middle of a spectacular growth spurt in the United States, especially in densely populated areas." In Pentland’s article, “The Top 16 US Cities for Solar Power", he cites San Jose as one of those cities. Nearmap imagery (below) shows one neighborhood in San Jose with before and after imagery. Notice that between September 2014 and August 2016 (very current at the time of this post), a cluster of 4 homes in the center and one to the lower right, expanded and installed solar panels. High-resolution aerial imagery affords solar panel installers with the tools to prospect, build proposals, measure, mitigate risk, speed up install times and improve customer satisfaction. Through imagery, they can see roof obstructions prior to ordering panels. No surprises.
On August 28th, 1,500 members of the International Association of Assessing Officers—the people who value the world—will descend on Tampa, Florida for their annual convention. Imagery plays an essential role in assessment and appraisals. The impact is felt by citizens, commercial entities and governments. The challenge is when assessments miss the mark leading to long appeals, wasted resources and revenue shortfalls. IAAO is laser focused on ensuring this process works well.
Consider the imagery below from Nearmap presented inside Esri’s ArcGIS Online℠. As you slide from left to right we compare a Tampa neighborhood with 6-inch resolution (Ground Sample Distance) to sub 3-inch resolution from Nearmap. The Nearmap imagery is from the Spring of 2015. This example does not show interim captures from Nearmap showing the construction process including the shingling of the roof. These frequent snapshots in time allow geographic information system professionals to verify construction is complete along with permitting—all without having to visit the sites. Today, assessors typically turn on data layers along with parcel boundaries inside ArcGIS Online. Nearmap imagery by date represents individual layers used to analyze change and assess property value. Other sources of data—demographics or water consumption, for example—can be applied in support of other applications.
The same high resolution aerial imagery used by appraisers clearly has applicability in architecture, construction and engineering on either a micro or macro scale. The third example below shows change over time in a residential neighborhood including the addition of pools, putting greens, solar panels and new home construction. Take your time looking at this change. Can you see the degradation in pavement and road surfaces? Do you notice a change in roof quality over time? This approach is also being applied to much larger scale design and construction projects. You can see examples of Zurich North America Construction and other interesting locations.
We’ve reached an inflexion point in the use of high-resolution aerial imagery. Industry applications as diverse as 9-1-1 emergency response, demolition services, commercial property leasing, law enforcement, advertising, telco and communications—are all beginning to adopt game changing technology. They have come to recognize what early adopters in government, energy, architecture, construction and engineering have learned over the last 24 months. High-resolution aerial imagery is proven to increase organizational productivity and win in highly competitive markets. Ultimately, the growth in this market is driven from this important factor. To learn more, visit the resources section of go.nearmap.com and follow us on Twitter @Nearmap.