Monday , 26 June 2017

INTERVIEW: “Infrastructure sectors, especially transportation, water resources and urban development hold great promise for us”

Omega Analytics is a new generation engineering and business analytics company specialized in Multi-Criteria Spatial Optimization problems for infrastructure, manufacturing and services industries. Their expertise spans Geographic Information Systems, Remote Sensing, Photogrammetry, Computer Aided Design and Surveying. V Vijay, Director, Omega Analytics Pvt Ltd speaks to TrafficInfraTech about the company’s new technology and plans for the transport sector.

What are the special features of your Multi-Criteria Spatial Optimization technology?

Site & route selection problems are ubiquitous. Examples include

• Where to locate ATMs, mobile towers, stores, security cameras, windmills?
• What is the most optimal route for a railway line between towns A and B?
• How to route & schedule a fleet of buses for company employee transport?

Finding feasible solutions to such problems requires:

i. search over vast geographical areas
ii. satisfying multiple objectives and interactive constraints

The financial outlays involved in such projects are large and, often irreversible. Existing survey based problem solving methods are both inefficient and ineffective.

Our innovation spans both data and technology dimensions. High resolution satellite images and digital terrain models have replaced paper maps and topographic sheets. Software and bespoke optimization algorithms have eliminated manual methods that are still largely in use. Our solutions have demonstrated their superiority in cost, accuracy, time and options.

How has been the response so far?

The construction branch of Indian Railways has been an early adopter of our solutions for feasibility studies of new lines. Designing a new railway line is a complex spatial optimization problem involving geometric constraints (gradients, curvatures), forest and environmental regulations, freight and passenger traffic requirements, land acquisition challenges etc. The versatility of our solution for such problems has been appreciated. The zonal railways and PSUs such as DMRC, MRVC, RVNL and RITES are among our customers. We have many success stories, especially in projects in difficult to access forest and mountain terrain.

Highway consultants have found our solutions to be very useful in bridge design. We are able to provide objective estimates of flood depths from terrain analysis and rainfall data to ensure hydraulically safe design.

The government sector is a major stakeholder in the geospatial industry, both as a producer and consumer of data. Awareness of spatial analytics and its applications, especially to engineering problems, is however limited. There is much to be done in this area.

How do you find the market for your technology in India?

Besides railways and roads, linear infrastructure projects such as irrigation canals, power transmission lines and pipelines are natural customers.

Urban infrastructure, especially under the Smart Cities programmes, is an emerging opportunity. There is an element of spatial analysis in all aspects of urban planning and management – mobility, parking, telecom networks, land records, property tax collection, power, water and sewerage networks.

The market size, whether estimated top down or bottom up, is enormous. The challenges are in the long sales and payment collection cycles and the often unsuitable procurement processes for specialized services such as ours.