Nearmap US Inc.
Nearmap’s imagery helps accelerate work for homebuilders and developers.
By Alan Dorich
There are many people involved with the process of building a home, including the land developer, general contractor and subcontractors. Each has different needs that Nearmap US, Inc. can help meet, Senior Director of Marketing Tim Frank says.
The firm, which has its U.S. headquarters in South Jordan, Utah, offers high-resolution imagery to various sectors, including construction, government, insurance, utilities and real estate. Nearmap started operations 10 years ago in Australia, where it flew planes equipped with patented camera systems.
It now offers photography through a subscription service to clients and covers the United States, Australia and New Zealand. This imagery, Frank notes, can be useful to developers who visit project sites to evaluate them.
“That can be a time-intensive job,” he says. “Land developers are looking for ways to streamline, make that a more efficient process and still get the data they need to make a decision.”
Although Nearmap’s imagery does not provide the complete benefits of a site visit, it can give developers a broad perspective on vegetation as well as developments already built in the region. “I also can use this aerial imagery to define accessibility with streets and walkways,” Frank describes.
The company’s images also provide more benefits than satellite photos, which many use because they are free. However, they are not updated often and do not show detail as well. “That’s where Nearmap really shines,” Frank says.
Nearmap also provides users with greater ease in accessing the photos. “We have a tool called MapBrowser that lets users login and access all of that imagery,” he says, noting that its developer clients include NewQuest Properties.
Nearmap’s photography benefits general contractors that often need to perform estimates on sites and evaluate the size and acreage of lots. They can complete the process more efficiently by using Nearmap’s built-in tools, including its MapBrowser.
“They can evaluate and do initial planning with it,” Frank says. This allows general contractors to get an idea of the project’s landscaping layout and better communicate it to subcontractors.
Nearmap also benefits subs with its imagery, but each contractor can have a distinct, specific use, Frank says. For example, a concrete subcontractor may need to generate measurements from the photos to create estimates for driveways or concrete and stonework.
While a contractor might have concerns about accuracy when using satellite photos or imagery taken with a drone, “With Nearmap, [you] don’t worry about it,” he says. “We’re already geo-referencing it and making it spatially accurate, so you can get estimates quickly.”
The subcontractor also can save the time of driving out to a location, as well as vehicle, employee and equipment costs. “It takes time if you’re using traditional estimating methods,” Frank says, noting that using it is faster using Nearmap to measure a site than it is using measuring tape.
“If you’re trying to get square footage with a top-down view, you would do that within one to two minutes with Nearmap,” he says. “And, your [measurement] is within inches of accuracy.”
If a subcontractor were to use Nearmap over the course of a year, “You could be saving thousands of dollars, depending on the size of the project,” he says. “That clearly adds up.”
Nearmap captures nearly 70 percent of the United States with its photography. “Our current coverage is 270 metros,” Frank says, noting that these are the largest areas of the country in terms of population.
“The top 70 of those 270 we capture three times per year,” he says, noting that it captures the remaining balance annually. “For the largest ones, it includes what we call a Nearmap Oblique capture.”
All of the images, he adds, are high resolution, with one pixel representing a three-inch ground sampling distance. “You can see cracks in the ground with that type of detail,” Frank describes.
When subscribers join Nearmap, they get access to the company’s entire library of photos. “We’re not selling a single image of one home,” he says. “You can literally go everywhere in the United States where we have coverage.”
This not only helps in the construction of homes, but also with renovation work. “That could be pools getting installed, decks, fences and landscaping,” Frank says.
Interest in Innovation
The homebuilding market is a growing portion of Nearmap’s business. In addition to small contractors, “A large percentage of it is solar installers, roofers, landscapers and land developers,” Frank says.
Interest has grown in Nearmap’s technology, because of the efficiencies that can be gained. “Pavers and concrete subcontractors think there is a way for them to virtually eliminate the need to be on site to take an initial estimate,” he says.
But the company still has work to do in spreading awareness of its photography. Although the homebuilding industry continues to adopt new technology, “They don’t realize how often innovation is occurring,” he says.
“They’re not aware of what is out there that could streamline their work,” Frank continues. “They’re continuing to use traditional methods to do things and that makes a difference on their bottom line.”
One factor is helping the customer understand technologies like aerial imagery. “They’re not things that have to be complicated,” he says, noting that the company plans to grow its share of the homebuilding market.
Sidebar — Unique Views
Nearmap US, Inc. offers three types of imagery to its subscribers, including its Nearmap Vertical imagery, which gives its clients a top-down view of the land. Its Nearmap Panorama images enable users to visualize any size geography in an uninterrupted way from multiple perspectives.
Its Nearmap Oblique images allow them to see the heights of buildings, as well as measure them through MapBrowser, a cloud-based application. Recently, Senior Director of Marketing Tim Frank adds, the company added a feature that allows users to view the images from different angles.
“You can go to Nearmap Panorama and you can look at a property from the north, south, east and west,” he describes. “You’re able to get a more realistic view of what you’re going to see in the space.”