Cardno Use Case

How the Alteia AI and data management platform enhances Cardno’s expertise and customer experience

Cardno’s Data Acquisition Program utilizes Alteia to organize, centralize and analyze large amounts of collected data. The cloud platform not only streamlines workflows and enhances the customer experience, but also makes Cardno’s data AI-ready to develop the expertise delivered to their B2B clients.

Addressing the challenge of data management in a global company

Cardno delivers infrastructure, environmental and scientific professional services to a broad range of sectors, including defense, government, energy, industrial development, mining, transportation, land management and utilities. Founded in 1945, Cardno currently operates globally with over 4,000 employees and 100 offices spread across the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.

Cardno has adopted digital technology to capture imagery of clients’ assets. However, the process of acquiring, managing and delivering business insights from this data unveiled several major challenges:

  • Multiple data sources and data formats prohibiting integration;
  • Use of multiple software programs, leading to excess expenses;
  • Decentralized data, scattered across different platforms and storage facilities;
  • Cumbersome, non-standardized client delivery;
  • Limited collaboration capabilities on projects’ data.

To better address these problems, in 2019 Cardno decided to set a global framework to bring all the data acquisition activities under a Data Acquisition Program, led by David Prall, to create a central, shared knowledge hub for offices across the world.

Prall’s challenge was to unite teams and processes around common tools and practices. To further Prall’s goal, Cardno tapped Alteia as a partner to solve the above challenges. Alteia quickly became a valuable tool and partner for the Data Acquisition Program.

Focused on delivering actionable intelligence to customers

Cardno’s data acquisition and business approach is customer centric, as they understand that data is not an end in itself. Cardno provides expertise thanks to its in-house engineers and scientists, who analyze data to determine and extract what the client needs to make their decisions

“In the Data Acquisition Program we work from the data up. We seek to develop a methodology to get the information and help clients make the decisions they need in the most economical and rapid manner. We deliver real actionable intelligence to our customers” explains Prall.

As an example, Cardno has built and is continuing to refine an unmanned aviation program for the U.S. Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) at Twentynine Palms, the world’s largest USMC training and testing range. The program monitors the land around the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) in California.

Data aggregation in one single source of truth

Cardno’s teams manage multiple remote sensing technologies. Data collected can be from    under and at the surface of any body of water, on land, in the sky, and from space. Cardno can pull data from satellites, aerial photography, LiDar surveys, and 3-D models of facilities and fuse all of that data in the Alteia platform to have it make sense to the end client.

Cardno chose the Alteia platform for its capacity to manage different data sensors, visual formats and GIS data. They can store and organize massive amounts of data in one single source of truth

“When I set out with my team to choose our digital data fusion platform, we looked at a lot of different options. What really impressed me about Alteia was the user interface and the built-in AI and computer vision.”

Alteia portal of Cardno where all projects are gathered into one single platform

With Alteia there’s no limitation in terms of sensor compatibility and data formats. That has proven to be very convenient for Cardno, as legacy data can be moved to Alteia allowing for the fusion Cardno needs to present one central data hub.

As an example, Cardno has used fixed-wing aircraft in the past to collect seven centimeter resolution imagery for linear assets (pipelines). With pipelines being thousands of kilometers long, this produces massive amounts of data that can be tricky work. In Alteia, this becomes one single project through data fusion making the entire pipeline data easy to visualize and easier work with than past methods.

Enhancing the end-customer experience with user-friendly data visualizations and a collaboration portal

For a customer centric company, handing clients a hard drive with terabytes of information is not an option. Cardno uses Alteia as a web-based customer delivery portal.

Alteia adds real value for what Cardno offers to clients. The Cardno team can bring all the data together and fuse it in Alteia. The platform is designed to be client-facing, making it very client friendly in the way all the fused data is presented.

“We have several major clients using Alteia and they couldn’t be happier. They are really excited about the power that Alteia brings to their desk. Instead of being just a drone services provider, just handing the client a hard drive with a lot of raw data on it, now our clients can simply log into Alteia from their desk and they can see and understand what’s going on with their data,” says Prall. “It is not just data that’s being stored somewhere, but it’s presented in a very pleasing manner. The UI [User Interface] is great. Just yesterday we had satellite imagery come in and I uploaded it to Alteia for one of our clients. They immediately had access to the new information” says Prall.

Example of a project in Alteia to which Cardno’s clients have access

Alteia’s access management relies on granular, role-based permissions. It makes sharing and collaborating in digital twins possible with both internal and external teams. Users’ access to data, analytics and editing privileges can be adapted to security policies and keep data safe.

Alteia enables organizations’ digital transformation of operations and customer relations. For a service provider such Cardno, it helps delighting customers while saving time, time that can be used on more critical tasks.
Alteia allows us to spend less man hours accomplishing the same mission with a given client because they have access to their data.”

Cloud technologies and great customer service made deployment fast and easy

As far as customer service is concerned, absolutely nobody else came close to Alteia. Our technical account manager is absolutely phenomenal” says Prall.

Cardno’s Data Acquisition Program members were given access almost immediately, as the solution is hosted in the cloud. User onboarding was performed via a series of live training sessions adapted to busy employee schedules and locations.

Alteia adapted to different time zones for our global company, as they hosted dedicated online training sessions for our teams in the United States and Asia Pacific. We benefited from one-on-one engagement during calls when we had specific needs. When we want to implement a new process or maybe just get a refresher, our technical account manager is always available.”

Streamlined workflows with easy drone data processing

Embedded photogrammetry engines in Alteia enable fast and easy drone imagery processing. It makes the path straightforward from data collection to visualization, collaboration and analysis. Because it’s hosted in the cloud, Alteia generates the digital twin of sites and assets in a matter of hours. Deliverables are quickly ready for visualization and collaboration, providing a fluid user experience

Most of our data acquisition team members wear other hats, such as senior geologists. They don’t have the time to get fully spun up on a standalone photogrammetry processing platform. It was important to me to bring in a platform that offered that three-button interface for photogrammetry processing. We’ve really been impressed, and found a lot of value in that functionality,” explains Prall.

Alteia simplifies the photogrammetry process by enabling users to define presets at the company or site level and applying recommended settings that suit most standard project requirements. Advanced users can still adjust all the parameters they need to take deeper control of the processing.

“I was really impressed with Alteia’s ability to generate a very nice and crisp 3D model from drone imagery. That’s something that’s difficult to do and usually requires a lot of manual manipulation by someone who understands how to run photogrammetry software. I did some very complex 3D models of assets, and they rendered beautifully.”

Workflow optimization from field to digital twin

Alteia empowers team collaboration first, with enterprise-wide access to digital twins, and annotations features to engage online conversations right on maps and models. Be it a point, line, polygon or box, annotations also provide measurements and coordinates of any point of interest. For quick access to information, annotations are searchable.

“Something that’s valuable to us and our clients is the power of annotations. In our projects we have people in the field, biologists and scientists, collecting data that needs to be recorded to monitor progress. They take photos, make notes, and write reports. They come back to the office, drop in an annotation that’s georeferenced, and then add attachments to the annotation. They can add comments and tag people on the annotation, so the right supervisors see the issue,” says Prall.

Enhancing human expertise and value delivered to customers with Artificial Intelligence

A typical example of visual data application is change monitoring for large-scale construction projects. Prall’s team was commissioned to assist a client in building a new natural gas pipeline. The initial state of the entire corridor was mapped using satellite imagery, and then interval shots enabled progress monitoring. Once the project was complete, the client had to comply with restoration requirements from the U.S. Federal Government. The whole pipeline corridor was required to be restored back to its original natural vegetated state.

“The initial plan required a lot of man hours and time in the field with associated risks, not to mention the significant cost. We came up with an analytic that operates within Alteia, and essentially through fused data we can calculate the fractional percentage of vegetation in that area (Fcover index). That’s a hard number that we can monitor, so we can demonstrate there’s improvement,” explains Prall.

Fcover analysis of a pipeline corridor in Alteia

The Fcover approach helps determine which area to focus on, instead of field operators having to spend a lot of time monitoring the entire pipeline corridor.

Why Cardno chose Alteia

How does Cardno benefit from data management and AI-enablement capabilities of Alteia?

Alteia has been instrumental in supporting Cardno’s global data acquisition program by streamlining the process, and management to better analyze and fuse client data.

  1. Alteia standardizes, fuses, and centralizes Cardno’s data acquisition program workflows for a true project common operating picture (COP)
  2. Alteia enhances human expertise delivered to clients with AI
  3. Alteia enhances the customer experience