The Early Days
Leading Edge Geomatics (LEG) was founded in 2008 in Lincoln, New Brunswick, Canada. The founders of LEG have a combined 40 years of practice in the geomatics industry, working on projects throughout North America and internationally in Afghanistan, conducting national level survey projects. LEG offers customized solutions to clients across a number of industries including energy, forestry, mining, and bathymetry.
Bruce Hogan, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Sales at Leading Edge Geomatics, began his career as a Geomatics Technician with the Department of National Defense before becoming Geomatics Manager of the Atlantic region in 2002. In 2006, Bruce began his sales career working for a leading manufacturer of navigation systems as the account manager for Government and Military sectors.
In 2008 Bruce founded LEG with two of his colleagues, purchasing two Applanix DSS cameras and airplanes. The colleagues have since retired, leaving Bruce to provide his leadership and vision.
Building on a Successful Relationship
LEG has experienced fantastic growth over the past 11 years and now operates a fleet of 7 fixed-wing aircraft with 8 LiDAR sensors and 4 digital cameras. Over the years they have grown from 6 to over 90 employees. LEG has collected over 500,000 km² of LiDAR, and 300,000 km² of aerial photography.
The most recent sensor purchase was a RIEGL VQ-880-G II topo-bathy lidar which is successfully being deployed mapping islands in the Caribbean, including a major collection project in Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria.
When asked about the decision to purchase the RIEGL topo-bathy system, Vladimir Kadatskiy, long term industry member, formerly with RIEGL USA and presently VP of Corporate Development at LEG, explained that the company has a long standing, proven relationship with RIEGL. They acquired their first RIEGL LiDAR sensor, the RIEGL LMS-Q680i in 2009, and now own 7 RIEGL sensors.
In Kadatskiy’s opinion, he believes RIEGL has the best LiDAR signal processing on the market. This is particularly valuable in processing waveform data for forestry applications, one of LEG’s major markets. When combined with high data collection and data processing efficiencies, RIEGL offers a great value.
Markets and Projects
LEG is focused on three primary markets: electrical power transmission, wide area mapping which includes forest inventory and the 3DEP program, and topo-bathy. LEG has partnered with many firms in North America and has two planes based in Orlando, FL to support current projects. Data processing is supported on site with backup from the team in New Brunswick.
When asked whether they used helicopters for the electric utility data collection, Kadatskiy explained that because LEG continues to invest into the latest high performance airborne LiDAR sensors, LEG is achieving very high data density from a fixed wing aircraft, which previously was only possible from a helicopter platform. Operating fixed wing aircraft allows them to increase collection efficiencies while collecting high accuracy and high density datasets. Fixed wing operation now accounts for most of the work that they do, though LEG deploys helicopter-based systems as needed.
As mentioned above, one of LEG’s current projects involves shoreline mapping for NOAA in Puerto Rico. To assess changes in coastal navigation, LEG is flying their recently acquired VQ-880-G II topo-bathy system. This shoreline data is also being used to study changes in the coral reef and other marine habitat, as well as make decisions about investing in coastal and beach resilience projects.
For assessing damage to the interior of Puerto Rico in support of FEMA and the USGS, LEG is flying their new RIEGL VQ-1560i LiDAR systems at higher altitudes to collect data faster and more cost effectively. Dewberry, who is the prime contractor for the Puerto Rico Project, then merges bathymetric data and topographic data for creating flood plain modeling and beach resilience planning.
In Florida this winter, LEG is part of a Dewberry-led team that is working on a statewide 3DEP project involving a number of federal, state, and local agencies that pooled their funds to acquire the statewide coverage of LiDAR data. The Florida statewide elevation data will be used in a number of critical applications including but not limited to: flood risk management, infrastructure and construction, coastal zone management, forest resource management, and national security.
Leading Edge Geomatics – Looking to the Future
What about the future of LEG and the LiDAR market in general? Kadatskiy explained: ”In the last decade we have seen a dramatic increase in LiDAR and imagery collection efficiencies, data quality, and data resolution. We will continue to see remote sensing technology get more efficient. On the data processing side, we have seen Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning starting to be applied in data classification, and analytics. We will continue to see big improvements in this area, and with deployment of more advanced data processing techniques, we will continue to see reduction in data processing time. Unmanned aerial vehicles will continue to increase and we will see more drones being used for surveying and mapping. LEG continues to invest resources in all of these areas to support our company growth and deliver cutting edge products to our customers and partners. “
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