18 Jan 5 Q’s with GISCAD Limited
The urban development of Port of Spain fascinates us at ACLA architecture. From a both a land use and architectural standpoint, there is so much that can be reimagined within our capital city. We recently had the opportunity to chat with Desmond and Sudesh, directors and founders of GISCAD ltd to understand their company’s role in the spatial mapping process and how this resource can be beneficial to a diverse range of trades and organisations.
GISCAD Limited is the leading provider of geospatial, engineering design software solutions, fleet management and GPS tracking solutions in both the Public and Private Sector markets.
Since 2003, it has been serving Trinidad & Tobago and the wider Caribbean with GIS (Geographic Information System) Solutions. ‘GIS is designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present spatial or geographic data.’
Fleet Management and GPS Tracking Solutions provide updated maps which exhibit a full data set, comprised of over 30,000 points, also offering targeted data sets relevant to the clients needs.
ACLA architecture: As architects and designers, we are constantly thinking about urban development in Trinidad + Tobago. We regularly discuss small, yet meaningful interventions that can change the way we perceive our city. This would not be possible without capturing relevant data in the city of POS.
From an architectural standpoint, how can GIS mapping assist in the urban development and building process?
Desmond + Sudesh: Geographic information systems or GIS as it is more commonly known, is a science that provides spatially enabled information for decision making. Given that most entities have a physical form and thus a spatial location, GIS can be integrated pretty much anywhere.
In the case of assisting architects and architectural designs, it is not only applicable but it adds immense value. Areas include, planning external views to ensure the location of other buildings don’t obstruct sights you wish to capture. Harvesting light to assess the suitability of installing solar panels on roofs. Design considerations due to noise exposure based on the spatial relationship to surrounding entities such as major roadways nearby. Making citizens happy through smart development planning and understanding the bigger picture of what amenities are located nearby and where, from best locations – (or where best to locate) parking spaces and green areas for activities, to landscape architecture. GIS offers a dynamic way to represent unseen patterns and spatial relationships between features across an area.
ACLA: The value and importance of capturing data can be taken for granted and thus, many may not consider it a necessity. From your experience, what is the most pertinent benefit of data analysis?
D + S: Well, there are many benefits of using geospatial data in analytics and cost savings is one of them. The cost savings can result in a higher form of efficiency. GIS is used in many industries, to answer varied questions. From distribution entities, creating gap analysis of customer databases, comparing what their customer’s universe is at present, to what exists (and is spatially mapped) in reality. Financial Institutions determining the best location for a branch or ATM based on an analysis of road traffic, competitor locations, business districts and other socio and economic datasets. Or on a more expansive, long-term planning scale, development of any sustainable land use plan, will start from the mapping of all features within the area, and then looking at how they currently interact with each other and the trends associated therein. GIS technology can be thought of as carrying out the work by working through the process itself.
ACLA: You have mapped over 36,000 social and commercial points in more than 100 categories. What is the step-by-step process of capturing data?
D + S: The process has evolved over time with the rapid advancements in technology, data capture and mapping techniques. There are however core areas of management that need to be formalised and defined fully in any successful data capture solution or process. These include – definition of the area of investigation, determination of spatial constraints (physical, socio-economic etc.), Resource planning, database design, software and hardware solution design (cloud-based vs on prem), Determination of priority areas of mapping, data standardisation – data validation and verification and post-evaluation for completeness and coverage.
The above references some of the key steps of data capture management.
ACLA: As technology continues to advance, information systems are becoming more readily available and user friendly for the wider public. What differentiates you from your competitors?
D + S: With the welcomed advancements in GIS technology, its integration into every aspect of our lives, and the ease of which we use it, from WAZE to photography using recreational drones, there will still always be the need to transform data into business intelligence. We will continue to be laser-focused on assisting businesses in integrating our software and services to transform their data into actionable insights, reports and trends analysis. Our company will also continue to partner with organisations to develop and advance enterprise-wide, accessible, data driven business with intelligent systems, that delivers higher-value recommendations.
GISCAD revolves around providing business intelligence, informing an organisation’s strategic and critical business decisions by making them more efficient, more powerful and more accurate.
ACLA: With every small business, there is a story behind it. How did GISCAD first begin?
D + S: GISCAD Limited was started in 2003 by Sudesh Botha and Desmond Dougall. We did not choose to get into business so much as the necessity was thrust upon us. At the time, we were both working in the development of a GIS business line for one of the leading regional IT firms. They decided to scale down their operations and shave off their GIS business line, with us and others along with it. We saw the opportunity then to form our own company and continue providing and expanding GIS + CAD software and consulting to the T&T and wider Caribbean market. It started small, in a room in Desmond’s house (Sudesh recalls the cat lying across his laptop), from there moved to a rented room in a friend’s office in Fernandes Compound. We moved twice again within Fernandes Compound as we grew, until we left for our own building in Barataria in April 2020. Along with other investors, GISCAD Limited provided the brains to start GeoTrac Fleet Management Services in 2004 (a friend had a fleet of vehicles over which he needed tracking and control). Over the years, GeoTrac became the industry standard for B2B Fleet Management services in T&T, Guyana and St. Lucia. GeoTrac was merged into GISCAD in 2011. GISCAD Limited does business now in every English and Dutch speaking Caribbean country, with a staff of 30, a permanent office in Jamaica and partners in Guyana, Barbados, St. Lucia, Suriname and St Vincent. As of this year, the majority of our business will be outside T&T, a resilience strategy 8 years in the making. Our tagline” Create, Locate, Analyse” describes our passion to bring industry leading technology solutions to our corporate and government clients. The day we stop bringing value to their operations, it’s time to close up shop!
For any comments or questions please contact GISCAD ltd. at [email protected]