Locally designed system used for Google-style mapping

Stephen du Preez sets up the technology on the Google-like car.           Photo:SUPPLIED
Stephen du Preez sets up the technology on the Google-like car. Photo:SUPPLIED

SELECTED streets in the Eastern Cape’s Enoch Mgijima Municipality are being mapped and photographed using locally-designed software and a camera system developed by the Point of Interest (POI) and OVVIO team.

POI is a geographic information system (GIS) specialist company, which uses the OVVIO platform, developed by Setplan of Port Elizabeth to create Google-style maps.

These maps are more interactive and up to date than those available through Google, according to POI director, Ross Cogan.

“We focus on more than the street views provided by Google, and capture dirt roads, tracks and footpaths.

“This detailed information is essential for municipal planning purposes,” he says.

The OVVIO platform allows users to attach documents, images and descriptions to any point on the map.

“For example, we are able to provide all the ownership and zoning information of any building in the surveyed area at the click of a button.

“POI also has access to the routes of water, sewage, power and other municipal lines down to street level throughout South Africa.”

The technology has applications outside the urban areas as well.

“Using our database of farmland, we are also able to identify suitable land for specific crops.

“Installers of large-scale solar panel arrays are also using our expertise and systems to identify the best position for the panels in terms of sunlight, security, access and connectivity,” he said.

As with the Google Maps Street Car, the unit is mounted on the roof of a vehicle, using a mount designed by fellow POI director, Stephen Du Preez, and OVVIO owner, Carel Olivier.

It is controlled wirelessly through a smartphone or tablet.

Images are captured 360 degrees around the vehicle at predefined intervals, and are geo-tagged for integration into the GIS system.

They are run through a third-party program for quality purposes and stitching together before being saved online.

“Our system provides a fast turnaround time. Clients can see the images and maps that have been captured within 24 hours,” adds POI director, Brendon Watkiss.

The information is stored in the cloud, which means that it can be accessed from anywhere and at any time by accredited users.

The team has already mapped the following towns in the Enoch Mgijima Municipality: Hofmeyr, Tarkastad, Luxolweni and Nomonde.

At present they are busy photographing and mapping all the built-up areas in the Ndlambe municipality.

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