In the UK Getmapping have up to date nationwide aerial coverage of Britain and pioneered online delivery of aerial photography to business and the public.
They provide affordable geographic data via a range of streaming and analytical services.
These services are available in a variety of resolutions from 5cms in London, 12.5cms in England, South Wales and Central Scotland and 25cm resolution for the rest of Scotland and Wales.
However for the last three years even with an annual turnover in excess of £6m, they have been struggling to make a profit and have diversified into Africa and Northern Europe seeking new revenue streams outside the UK.
The uncertainty in their UK market for Aerial photography and mapping has been caused by Ordnance Survey. Here is an extract from Getmapping’s December 2015 annual accounts statement.
In addition to threatening Getmapping’s UK aerial photography business, Ordnance Survey is continuing to push deeper into the downstream value added markets of its so-called Partner companies, and for the first time in 2015 it has started releasing products which include Third part data (the OS Property API)
In November 2014 Getmapping submitted a complaint to the European Commission Competition directorate alleging that OS was I effect using State Aid to compete unfairly in the value-added markets.
The complaint was being actively investigated but with the UK Brexit decision last year any outcome or ruling now seems unlikely.
Getmapping have key contracts expiring in early 2017 with Scottish Executive and DEFRA and OS will now bid for these lucrative contracts.
In this video here is an insight to where Ordnance Survey are planning to go with their business mapping products.
In September 2016 announced changes with a joint venture with US company Waldo Air in a new company called GeoXphere.
WaldoAir was established in the US to develop a disruptive new survey camera technology (the Xcam) which sits on the outside of an aircraft and therefore does not require a dedicated survey plane with a camera hole inside.
As a result, the system is highly portable and easy to install.
It has also been developed to bridge the gap between small drone surveys and the large area survey work in which Getmapping currently engages.
Small drone surveys are now mainstream especially on larger private estates and land, because they can be conducted at a lower level below 400ft.
With the use of drone software like DroneDeploy or Pix4D the resolution of the basic mapping is 5cm reducing down to and incredible 1cm on their enterprise plan.
Drones are now chipping away at the traditional aerial photography market because it is so much cheaper to use a drone rather than a helicopter or fixed wing plane.
But in the UK the CAA restrictions in congested areas, towns and cities mean that aircraft and helicopter at 500-1000ft are still the only means to capture aerial photography for large scale mapping in these areas.