Carto Group excite crowd with 3D VR visualisation of major economic development across Swindon

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Innovation with 3D geospatial data is the ethos of our company and when Swindon Borough Council (SBC) and Switch On To Swindon (SOTS) came calling with a need to visualise major economic development in an engaging way for a large audience, they knew which local company to approach.

A major part of the event, held at the Nationwide Building Society HQ, was to update business leaders and the public on the latest economic development construction projects across the borough. Swindon has a lot to offer now and in the near future. so it was key that this was communicated in a way that would make the audience sit up and take notice.

After receiving the brief, which had a challenging time frame, The Carto Group (TCG) team quickly got to work on story boarding ideas internally, to then share with our partners. The original brief was to create a film, that would be broadcast on large screens. Although films are good, they have been done before, multiple times over, and this event needed something different, something even more captivating.

Whilst discussing the possibilities, it was agreed that an interactive Virtual Reality (VR) application, that could be demonstrated live on the night and also downloaded by the public at a later date, was the way forward. Susie Kemp, CEO of SBC was to be the narrator whilst Shaun Landy, Game Dev at TCG, flew interactively across the borough visiting each development site that included Architect 3D models and showcase development images.

The beauty of developing the ‘geospatial way’ is that the app is driven by data. This delivers immense value in the creation of apps of this kind and their flexibility. We are using geospatial streaming technology and databases which allows for quick updates and enhancements of the app so it will never be out of date. Completely future proofed and delivers time and cost savings. We are also using already invested in construction data, which show how the journey of information can be used throughout a construction project lifecycle but also by as many stakeholders as possible.

What could you achieve with VR technology?

Carto Group join Mapbox Developer Network


Mapbox have recently launched their Mapbox Developer Network and we are part of it!

Over the past 3 years we have developed a number of web mapping applications on top of the Mapbox geospatial technology and certainly consider ourselves as experts. We have pushed the boundaries of 3D GIS by building mapping applications, integrating Mapbox and Unity gaming technology that includes bespoke service-on-demand and Augmented Reality navigation applications as well as a number of custom mapping apps for construction.

We are impressed with how far Mapbox has come with their platform and how open the technology is, allowing us to develop targeted apps that solve real world challenges or simply bring joy to others.

We have had a number of successful requests from the developer network already and look forward to our continued use of Mapbox geospatial technology.

Navigation geospatial applications
Navigation geospatial applications

Contact us to discuss your mapping projects: [email protected]

LAMP – Effective materials planning in Construction


LAMP Innovation Project

An Innovate UK grant funded project, LAMP (Live Automated Materials Planning) is an SaaS based software solution designed to provide better efficiency and cost management, increased speed and reduced environmental impact on large construction sites. The LAMP project involves three key partners; The Carto Group a specialist Geospatial consultancy and solutions provider focused on the construction sector, Skanska UK Plc, the fifth largest construction company in the world and BRE (Building Research Establishment, a centre of building science in the United Kingdom).

The UK construction contracting market is worth £61bn pa. 100 companies within it have a turnover of >£60M pa (2013). Significant quantities of materials are utilised (58.5M tonnes sand & gravel, 1.83Bn bricks, 71M square metres concrete products, ONS 2017). Market size means that improvements in construction efficiency will bring significant economic benefits, plus increased opportunity for exports. The trade deficit in construction materials and components continued to widen in 2016, with imports more than double the value of exports (trade deficit; £9,1Bn).

The target market for LAMP is construction project planners and managers, especially those dealing with large materials movement to/from site. LAMP will create productivity improvements and savings in project delivery. It will form part of an overall toolset, providing data-driven intelligence-based insights and enabling project teams to better plan, estimate and manage risks associated with materials, plants and people logistics. Most construction projects have risk pots as part of the bid process, LAMP will enable reductions in these risk pots.

Linking open geospatial with machine learning within the construction sector is innovative and scalable. Access to, and scalability of, intelligent big data from disparate sources is something with which the sector has struggled. LAMP will expose complex, intelligent and information-rich patterns and relationships that are almost impossible to replicate in isolation from siloed spreadsheets/databases.

Construction begins on Castle Park View, Bristol’s tallest building


Construction is due to begin this month on what will be Bristols tallest building, Castle Park View. The building, designed by Chapman Taylor for property development company Linkcity, will be constructed by Bouygues as the main contractor.

As part of the complex and challenging planning application process, The Carto Group provided Verified View and Photomontage support to Novell Tullett, a Bristol based Landscape Architecture company.

Our CEO, Tim Hughes, says; “Arguably one of our most high-profile and challenging projects completed to date, it’s always rewarding to when planning is approved and even more celebrated when constructions begins, Most of all, this building will enhance this area of Bristol City Centre and provide much needed housing for the local area. This shows how important Verified Views are to completing a successful planning application in sensitive areas. We are also involved in a similar project in Swindon, Falcon House, providing surveying services to provide affordable homes in Swindon Town Centre and enhance an area that has been derelict for 20 odd years”.

The scheme will contain 300 apartments for private rent and 75 affordable homes.

We will be following this project closely as construction moves progresses over the coming years, with conclusion due to be in 2022.

Historic Swindon Carriage Works buildings undergo the 3D treatment

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The Carriage Works is situated at the heart of Swindon railway heritage area.

Swindon Railway Works opened in January 1843 as a repair and maintenance facility for the new Great Western Railway. By 1900 the works had expanded dramatically and employed over 12,000 people. At its peak in the 1930s, the works covered over 300 acres and was capable of producing three locomotives a week.

Fast forward a few decades, the Carriage Works is still a thriving economic industrial area, with a mix match of car garages and specialist workshops.

Swindon Borough Council are beginning a digital transformation journey, but to be able to do this effectively long term, they need a digitally enabled workforce, on tap. Companies and organisations that reside in the town also need a new digital workforce to meet today’s challenges, with less. Less people, and less capital.

The heritage of Swindon’s Carriage Works (once part of railway innovation) is being transformed. Large units have been emptied and digital SME’s are primed to move in. Its all started with WORKSHED. A tech and digital incubation centre, funded by Swindon Borough Council. A empty, dirty, rundown industrial unit has been transformed into high end, cost effective a flexible office space, something more likely to be seen in London and other large cities. Swindon’s digital revival has begun.

The Carto Group were one of the first in, even before the dust had settled. Our CEO and Founder, Tim Hughes (a Swindonian), has been bought into this vision before the architects had even started their designs.

Of course WORKSHED is just the start, and Swindon Borough Council have commissioned The Carto Group to undertake 3D building surveys of the ‘old bike sheds’ and the other empty units at the Carriage Works. Being unused for many years and the fact the buildings are listed, means there are many structural challenges for architects and engineers to come through, so a reliable high resolution 3D survey of the buildings was a must.

We are proud to be part of the transformation and revival of Swindon’s ‘heritage zone’ and also be residents within the buildings.

The future is bright for this once forgotten area, and with the amazing footfall from the Outlet Village and National Trust, the area is on the verge of becoming a bustling community, like it once was when it served the railway.

Skanska VISUALISE consortium snap up ‘Digital Construction’ award at Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2018


Last week, Skanska UK Plc picked up the Constructing Excellence SECBE Award for Digital Construction innovation on behalf of the VISUALISE consortium also consisting of The Carto Group, BRE, 3D Repo and UNIT9.

The judges said, “This project addresses an industry-wide problem of connecting and integrating information from multiple sources. Collaboration with multiple stakeholders has helped to provide engagement and buy-in up and down the supply chain”.

Mark Farmer, Co-Chairman of Constructing Excellence said, “The construction industry needs to change, now more than ever, particularly in light of the physical and commercial catastrophes of Grenfell (June 17) and Carillion (January 18) that continue to hold media attention”.

These were the opening words for the awards evening. The Carto Group have been focusing our expertise on bringing people and organisations together to deliver more reliable, efficient and sustainable construction projects. We are proud of our ethics of ‘GIS for good’ and know that innovation projects, like VISUALISE, can help deliver the government targets for construction by 2025.

VISUALISE is all about using geospatial and Building Information more efficiently, in a joined up manner. Adopting this approach throughout a project lifecycle will bring massive benefits to all involved in major infrastructure projects, but also to the ones that need to maintain our built assets, like highways and the assets that are associated with that and building or facilities management. The value of reliable geospatial data capture, management, querying and visualisation has been overlooked for too long, and we are impressed with our long term client and partner, Skanska’s, approach to change in the industry, they will reap the rewards of this innovation work.

Lastly, a huge thank you to our consortium partners, and of course the people involved within The Carto Group team who are helping deliver this innovation project, but also changing an industry.