The Italian engineering company GEOCART, which specialises in remote monitoring and observation of the environment and infrastructure, opened its North American headquarters in Montreal in May 2021 to develop high-tech services also on Canadian soil. We talked about this with Davide Colangelo, Chief Analytics Officer of Geocart S.p.a.
Davide Colangelo, Chief Analyst Officer at Geocart
In Quebec, the green economy is the most important axis of the economic recovery strategy and significant funds have been allocated at both federal and provincial level for the transition to a green and sustainable economy.
Environmental impact is therefore a key topic and a development priority shared by Western countries, which is being addressed by examining the potential environmental damages caused by the raw materials' processing cycle, starting from extraction, through transport and transformation into energy and finished products, up to the potential environmental damage generated by final elimination or disposal.
How can effective management of the maintenance of electricity grids contribute to environmental protection and the reduction of environmental impacts?
One of the main causes of forest fires, which are our planet's green lungs, is related both to the poor infrastructure maintenance and the tree interference with power lines.
In 2018, in the United States, the wildfires that ravaged some states and caused more than 100 victims and $12 billion in damage, were provoked by obsolete power grids and poor control over the vegetation growth near cables.
Effective networks monitoring and control can prevent natural disasters, which cost human and animal lives, as well as money, and impoverish the landscape, due to the deforestation of lands that will take decades to recover. Moreover, it allows to optimize energy saving in electricity transmission and offers an efficient service that minimizes the occurrence of prolonged interruptions in electricity distribution to citizens and enterprises, which is essential for any business and economy.
The third edition of the Italy-Canada Business Forum on Artificial Intelligence will take place from 18 to 19 November 2021 and your company will be present along with other experts. How can AI contribute to the maintenance of electricity grids?
Artificial Intelligence is both an accelerator and facilitator in improving these activities. Geocart is investing in the research and development project “Geo A.I.”, which involves a qualified team of experts working on different fields of application that aim to link Artificial Intelligence to Earth Observation. The development of a software platform will enable us to carry out automated analyses of environmental and infrastructures monitoring and control operations. Machine learning and automatic recognition of data and images will make it easier for operators to quickly identify geometries, network elements (such as cables and supports) and criticalities, in order to draw up detailed maintenance, emergency plans and rapid responses.
The automatic detection of anomalies through the development of machine learning algorithms is crucial to enhance network security and environmental protection, granting customers a further improvement in service delivery times and cost benefits. The software will allow to completely automate some processing methods, such as the classification of the point clouds coming from laser scanner surveys.
Is it conceivable that this software could also be used for the protection and safety of citizens?
Certainly. The use of Satellite Technologies combined with Artificial Intelligence, and in particular the automated optical and radar image processing, will provide an innovative system for protection of citizens and the planet.
The software platform will allow to monitor the stability of strategic infrastructures (roads, bridges, dams, railways) and territorial transformations (drainage basin variations, deforestation, landslide, subsidence and soil deformation phenomena) in relation to climate change, extreme phenomena and anthropization.
The new Montréal office is Geocart’s first foray in North America. Why did you decide to expand your services to Canada?
North America represents a market full of opportunities with an ever-growing need for monitoring. It is one of the largest territories on the planet, characterised, in almost half of its extension, by strong geomorphological, climatic and environmental complexities that make precise and continuous control and monitoring difficult. Montréal’s strong ecosystems in artificial intelligence and aerospace technologies, along with Canada’s vast landscape and territory are a natural fit for our mission.
In Québec we will be able to continue investing in our software and produce innovative solutions to monitor the ground, vegetation and the stability of key infrastructure in a time when climate change and extreme weather events require a detailed predictive analysis for protection of citizens and the planet and to make public services increasingly effective.
The development of Geocart on this market is driven by 3 pillars: Artificial Intelligence, Satellite Intelligence and Digital Twin.
In what way?
This combination enables us to design advanced products and offer services that are beyond expectations. In particular, the digital twin is our perfect ally to accelerate Digital Transformation. Thanks to the virtual reproduction and dynamic recalibration of the environment, we can optimize the performance of very complex real assets, such as infrastructure.
In this area, Geocart offers pioneering solutions for water and power line monitoring. Thanks to our sophisticated remote sensing and data analysis systems, we can obtain significant advantages in terms of predictive maintenance, downtime reduction, inventory management, what if simulation, and operational planning.
On your website you say that "There are endless ways to conquer the future...". Is this Geocart's mission?
The full wording is "There are endless ways to conquer the future: ours are technological innovation and internationalization”.
Our mission is to observe, sense and anticipate the changes in the world. We do this by using innovative methods and technologies, designing customised solutions and developing the right competence. Professionalism, creativity and promptness are our key words.
We work day by day to develop new sensing tools and new survey techniques we need to characterize the territory and monitor the environment, Because we are sure that the future is the most important space to be explored.
We plan and produce solutions that use alternative sources to produce clean energy, because we think sustainable development is the ultimate result for a better world.
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