Interview: David Byrne, Aerometrex

By on 24 January, 2022

David Byrne, Chief Operating Officer, Aerometrex

In our new Leaders Forum, we ask experts to look ahead into 2022. Today we talk metaverses with David Byrne.

David Byrne is Aerometrex’s Chief Operating Officer and a member of the Board, having joined in 2000 as Chief Photogrammetrist. He has been largely responsible for Aerometrex’s successful technical program and previously filled the role of Production Manager.

Which technologies will revolutionise the surveying, space or spatial sectors in 2022?

Virtual worlds are going to be truly revolutionary for the geospatial industry. We connect perfectly to the whole metaverse industry because our 3D models are hyper-accurate replications of the real world. Metaverse companies build on our base 3D datasets instead of designing a world from scratch. I think people like the idea of living and interacting in a virtual world based in reality. Everybody would love the opportunity to go to a place like Manhattan, but may not have the means to. We can capture and build so many fantastic places around the globe and I can see that happening more in the future.

How can the industry play a role in the recovery from the COVID pandemic?

COVID has taught us to live and conduct our lives more remotely. Aerometrex is operating with remote capture methods and data-as-a-service product delivery, which places us well to handle that. The MetroMap platform is ideal for remote work environments where people don’t have to be on-site, travelling and interacting with others. I also think we’ll be at the forefront of the wave of development that will happen in the post-pandemic rebuild. Whether that’s infrastructure, construction or building, our industry and our data play a big part in large-scale projects.

How is Australasia placed in the global context? Are we racing ahead or falling behind?

I think that Australia is at the forefront of the geospatial industry and we really do punch above our weight. Our 3D modelling products are where we see ourselves as a global leader. We’ve been invited to international projects, such as capturing the city of Philadelphia for the Pope’s visit and modelling the old city of Pau in France. Both clients wanted the best 3D model; and with basically anyone in the world to choose from, they sought us out here in Adelaide. It proves that we in Australia are capable of leading the world.

What’s on your wish list for 2022?

Changing how government and companies like us collaborate is always topical at Aerometrex. The important thing is to continue working together on a win-win situation where both parties come out on top. Sometimes it feels like governments are competing with a company like ours, creating their own programs of capturing data. That undermines what industries like ours are trying to do. That’s something we’ll keep talking to governments about, and we need to keep expressing what our worth is.

Which challenges or opportunities should the industry be focused on?

Access to more skilled professionals is an interesting challenge for us, and one that the whole industry is dealing with. Software developers will play a massive part in our business as the geospatial industry moves closer to a tech industry model, and software developers are highly sought after. Aerometrex is what we would consider an extremely multicultural business, and that’s partly because we’ve always been comfortable going abroad to find the talent we need. That’s been great for our business culture and building creativity and innovation.

What do you think your customers are looking for in 2022?

People want more, better and faster data. That’s where a product like MetroMap becomes so powerful because it enables scaling of data creation and delivery. Having many clients for the same data means that we can offer a much more attractive price. More broadly, we’re finding the thirst for data is ever-increasing, and has been since 2005 with Google Earth. Google Earth provided a desire for data that never stopped.

What are your organisation’s priorities for 2022?

We’re a public company now, and the company’s performance is under the magnifying glass. Balancing financial performance and positioning ourselves right for the future is our priority. We’ll continue investing in all business parts to make sure we stay ahead of the curve because that gives us the best chance to grow. More specifically, we’ll continue developing more exciting and diversified products and solutions, then find ways to integrate them into MetroMap. That will bring in added tools and use cases where people can get enhanced benefit from the same data.

This article was first published in issue 116 of Position magazine.

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