Mapping the Future

Bowdens Group Australia

Bowdens evolved into a multi-disciplinary practice during the 1980s with a focus on greenfield subdivisions, supplying survey, civil design, planning and project management services to clients large and small in all areas of property development. A management buyout in 1997 saw David Ross and Greg Gearin take over the company. David told us more.

“In the early 2000s, changes in government policy and various market forces saw a shift from greenfield subdivisions to high rise development, together with developments more and more including the built form, and project management shifting from surveyors to architects and specialist project management companies encouraged us to change tack to focus more on infrastructure projects. We also had a view that infrastructure was the next boom area and our early positioning was seen as an essential step in making the transition into the next growth area.”

Bowdens has a reputation for the supply of quality surveying and water engineering services to the major contractors, on major projects, mainly within the eastern states. David describes it as, “a dynamic firm with commitment to quality of service. With a team that are accustomed to travel, and top of the range equipment, Bowdens is well placed to capitalise on major project based opportunities.”

The key value proposition for Bowdens, he says, is its capacity to deliver services at a quality and scope otherwise unavailable in a smaller firm, but at a price that cannot be delivered by larger firms. To this end, Bowdens maintains specialised surveying skills and systems to deliver major infrastructure projects including road, rail, water and mining sector projects. The team also boasts a track record of more than seven years on Alliance projects, working alongside the likes of Bovis Lend Lease, Leighton, Veolia, CLM Constructions, Worley Parsons, KBR, and McConnell Dowell.

In the last seven years, Bowdens has designed and helped to deliver more than 2,500 water and sewer mains and reticulation jobs covering more than 560 kilometres. The company maintains third party accreditation for its ISO 9001 Quality Management, 4801 Health & Safety and 14001 Environmental Management systems, and is now highly proficient in state of the art mobile mapping technology.

Across the three core service offerings of the business, Bowdens enjoys unique positioning relative to competitors in the market, says David. “Bowdens is a mid-sized consultancy, offering substantial in-house resources but with attentive client service, as demonstrated by lasting client relationships, and with a track record of working on very large projects for large clients.” The company has specialised and in-demand skills in surveying, water engineering and mobile mapping.

Bowdens is probably in the right place at the right time. Market forecasts indicate large infrastructure projects on the horizon in Australia, to generate strong growth over the coming years, says David. “This has been reinforced by both federal and state governments with the establishment of various infrastructure authorities to oversee the preparation and implementation of strategic plans for the delivery of infrastructure into the future.”

As an example, Infrastructure NSW has just released the State Infrastructure Strategy 2012-2032 which recommends 70 projects and reforms that should take priority to drive productivity and economic growth. In a recent press release, Infrastructure NSW states that if effectively implemented, these priorities will cost a total of $30 billion over the 20 years but will add $50 billion to the state’s economy and create an extra 100,000 jobs. This is the first time in NSW that state-wide infrastructure has been prioritised and fully costed.

Many of the key challenges identified in the report relate directly back to population growth. In NSW alone, it is estimated that the population will grow by some two million people over the next two decades. Three quarters of these will settle in Sydney, putting added pressure on the need for jobs, housing, transport and services. Some of the key areas identified as priorities include regional road and rail freight networks, metropolitan road networks, infrastructure for housing to help address the supply backlog, water supply, and flood mitigation to protect people, communities and economies. This issue is not unique to NSW and all levels of government across Australia are faced with the same challenges.

“Bowdens’ strengths align favourably with these conditions,” explains David. “Bowdens has a committed, harmonious team of skilled specialists, a strong track record and ongoing capacity for integrative work on large projects, and the required commitment to a systematic and effective approach to project delivery.”

David is sure Bowdens is ahead of the game in proven technology. “We don’t take unnecessary risks, or try new ideas for the sake of it. True innovation is drawing on years of experience, up-to-date knowledge and application of latest proven technology to create a better solution, to overcome a problem.”

Bowdens Group’s objectives are to provide employees with a variety of interesting projects which challenge them to innovate via technology or methodology. “A good example of this is our investment in the development of our FAST (Fast, Accurate, Safe, Technology) mobile surveying and mapping product.” The company has explored development of new technology on the fringe of surveying and engineering, GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging), Mobile Mapping being the major areas of interest. The technology adopted by Bowdens is known as IPS2, integrating a camera similar to that used by Google for capturing 360° digital imagery, combined with laser scanning, so that the resulting data captured is a geo-referenced, time-stamped point cloud (billions of points that define physical surfaces in the mapped environment) that links directly with the 360° imagery.

Mobile surveying is a quick, safe, cost effective and information-rich way to capture physical information. The technology utilises a vehicle mounted Integrated High Density 3D laser scanning and digital imagery mobile mapping system which produces “a mind-boggling combination of speed and accuracy. The end result is a high density point cloud with colourful image overlay for the ultimate in feature recognition and mapping detail.”

Waiting weeks or months for survey data, putting people at risk in dangerous road and rail corridors for survey work and having to go back in the field to pick up details missed are all problems of the past, explains David. “The system allows us to now survey, map and locate all objects using high definition laser scanners that can collect up to 1.3 million points per second at a range of at least 100 metres while driving at normal speeds on-road.”

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

January 25, 2021, 9:17 PM AEDT