Nearmap has turned millions of aerial images into datasets

Aerial imagery business is prediction a boon for insights, marketing, retail planning, and lead generation off the back of its AI-powered offering

Nearmap has unveiled streaming 3D online, and artificial intelligence (AI) technology, across its aerial imagery offering which could be a game-changer for marketers.

The business this week launched Nearmap 3D, which allows customers to stream and export 3D aerial imagery on-demand at scale, through its Web application. Nearmap has also developed new AI technology that is turning millions of aerial images, captured over a decade, multiple times a year, into datasets. These datasets can be used to measure change and quantify attributes, such as solar panels, pools, roofs or construction sites.

It also uses machine learning models applied to any new geography and new surveys, generating fresh results with current imagery. The AI-driven location intelligence then allows marketers the ability to ask for particular data sets, to develop prospects lists, for lead generation, and for retail planning.

Nearmap CMO, Harvey Sanchez, said marketers can use the technology for a variety of different applications as well as add in their own existing datasets.

“You can ask, for example, how many roof tiles in a suburb are older than 50 years, and that’s your prospects list as a roofer,” he told CMO. “In this way, you can start to build out attributes and assets in lead generation and marketing.

“One of our biggest customers uses it to plan retail spaces and shopping centres, for areas where they need to understand location, or foot traffic. We have a food truck company, which looks up where construction is happening that day and where to park their vans for best reach.

“As a marketer, you can start to build out insights into the data you have to help make informed decisions.”

The 3D imagery is accessible to anyone; this new iteration of the technology allows users to stream 3D content at scale via Nearmap's MapBrowser Web application. The platform allows Nearmap to visualise cities in 3D from any direction, measure distances, and export a custom area in a variety of 3D formats. According to the company, download time is a matter of minutes for most requirements and a few hours for very large footprints.

“If you want to see your advertising on billboards in an area from all sorts of angles, Nearmap can offer a better view before it is built. We find agencies use it to represent what they are trying to do in the real world, to see what something looks like before it exists," Sanchez said.

“Being hyper relevant and hyper targeted that is where you differentiate as marketers. If you don’t have the right data insights, you are wasting a lot of money.”

Nearmap executive vice-president of product, Tony Agresta, said customers’ worlds are evolving every day.

“We need to keep innovating to continue to give our customers a competitive advantage through technology breakthrough," he said. “Nearmap 3D is the result of a significant investment in R&D, but also listening to our customers and what they need to transform the way they work. Accessing 3D imagery up to now has typically been an arduous, time-consuming and expensive process. But not anymore. This represents the single largest, most frequently updated footprint of 3D accessible through a browser.

"The ability to measure in 3D space, size up an area and then export Nearmap 3D for use in other platforms will transform the aerial imagery market.”

Agresta added the AI technology will allow organisations to identify locations with specific attributes "and in so doing, reduce site visits, generate more leads, and eliminate the time involved to inspect properties manually”.

Nearmap’s camera technologies have been capturing 3D since 2017, more than 400,000km2 covered. It is updated once a year and covers major urban areas in Australia and the US. The business' work in unveiling its AI beta technology involves substantial research and development, and a team of close to 20 data scientists and machine learning engineers led by Dr Michael Bewley.

The team is also using petabytes of imagery captured by the business over the past 10 years and turning it into a living dataset to accurately identify changes or quantify attributes from the Nearmap library of aerial imagery. To date, Nearmap has performed analysis on over 1 million square kilometres of imagery across Australia and the US (which constitutes about 80 million properties).

Nearmap 3D is available to customers now, and the business is inviting customers to take part in its AI beta program to experiment with various use cases.

Related: How Nearmap leveraged tech to grow its market share

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