While SPAR is always an event that I look forward to, it is time where I get to meet with my peers, colleagues and clients in an environment that is solely scanning focused. As a founding member of the USIBD ( www.usibd.org) I also look forward to SPAR as it is a time where many of the members get to meet and talk about how the organization is growing and what direction they see the group moving it. For me the timing of this years event could not have been better if I planned it; as my firm opened our newest office in Houston early in March and I got to meet the new staff and check out the office. If asked to rate this years event I would say that from the keynote to the sessions, the roundtables and the live demonstrations, everything hits its mark.
While each of the keynotes touched on totally different topics they each hit a nerve for me. Ralph Rios report on the status of the market and ARCs report on the trends noted a concern that I and others have, is scanning becoming a commodity? I know I think about it often and even included the concern in my session. In the end it is up to each of us who provide this service to think of ways to bring value and professionalism to our clients and to keep the service on the cutting edge. The presentation on Augmented Realty was very interesting and the DAQRI offering was very forward thinking. Apple and others offer Dick Tracy like smart watches so a head set based interactive realty system cant be too far behind. Dave Truchs presentation on how BP is leveraging modeled scanned data to operational side of their business was on point and one the few real world examples that can be pointed to. To me BIM for FM/AM is one of the most promising evolving markets. Once owners see the power of having a cost effective, spatially and informationally correct model that can be accessed from almost anywhere (maybe from your DAQRI headset) I think this market will see huge growth and provide stable work for many of us.
While there are sessions for everyone and every level of attendee I did notice many of them touched on a common theme. In addition to the great scanning, modeling and unique solution automation, cloud based storage, and drones seemed to be the trend. Automation – it seems we are always looking for the push button solution to either gain an edge or reduce costs. Without the correct oversight and QA/QC procedures automation has the potential to help push much of what we do into the commodity side of the aisle. Cloud based storage and access seems to be a necessity, angry IT managers, file size, access needs, multiple users all point to the need to store and access big data from one common location. It was interesting to hear how other firms and vendors are each tackling this issue.
Drones, drones, everywhere, this is very interesting and amazing at the same time. Everyone seems to be racing to this segment of the data acquisition market, while many are not sure the direction to guide us providers in. The technology is growing faster than anyone can keep up with and with the speed and quality of the imagery and data these systems can produce it is no wonder why UAVs /UAS system seem to be on everyones must have list. For me once the FAA is clear on how we can deploy these systems I see them as another tool on our field crews toolkit. From recon for ground surveys to existing condition mapping I think these will become a major part of our data acquisition tasks.
In closing I want to table a topic with the other SPAR attendees and the vendors. Think about the art of data acquisition and the role it plays in the production of many of our deliverables. As automation, drones and other push button remote data collection solution become the norm and part of our everyday workflows it is important that we dont lose touch with what these systems are doing; that is measuring. In the end it is vital to have understanding of the basis of how these systems work and the real world results that can be obtained. I look forward to next years SPAR event in the Woodlands and seeing a few back to basics presentations alongside with the whats the next best thing sessions.