Surveying Russia From Rome: When Remote Becomes Your (Virtual) Reality

Surveying Russia From Rome: When Remote Becomes Your (Virtual) Reality
Maurizio Terpin

Maurizio Terpin Member Name

UX Designer

In today’s current business climate, clients are more and more frequently looking for robust remote solutions to tasks that, in the past, would have required extensive (and expensive) travel and site investigations. As virtual reality (VR) and other digital solutions take the mainstage in response to COVID-19, the question around VR has shifted from, “Is it possible to do this work remotely? to “How soon can we start?”

While the crisis is driving innovation in smart working, leading to more modern and delocalized data collection solutions, clients often wonder about the accuracy and reliability of remote data collection. The answer is: more reliable and accessible than you might think.

Exploring sites from more than 3,000km away

Take an example from Golder MediaLab’s team: a client in Rome approached us and wanted to remotely inspect sites for a wind farm development project in Russia. The main driver for this approach, as it was pre-pandemic, was to save money. They did not want to send professionals on-site and instead wanted to execute the monitoring from their office in Rome.

Using a platform that supported 360° photos taken on site during a remote survey, the client in Rome was able to explore sites in Russia using a virtual reality (VR) headset.
So, the Golder MediaLab team developed an information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure to manage the experience remotely. The platform supported 360° photos taken on site during a remote survey, and the client viewed the images using a virtual reality (VR) headset. The team launched an extensive and intense exploration from more than 3,000 km away, leaving no stone unturned. And as it turns out, the VR solution provided additional context over traditional methods that had a significant impact on the final siting of the wind farm towers.
Using a platform that supported 360° photos taken on site during a remote survey, the client in Rome was able to explore sites in Russia using a virtual reality (VR) headset.
Using a platform that supported 360° photos taken on site during a remote survey, the client in Rome was able to explore sites in Russia using a virtual reality (VR) headset.

Additional context drives decisions

For comparison with the digital solution, the client’s ICT team prepared a standard GIS interactive map. Within this, users could click on a hotspot and open a standard photo of that location. One client stakeholder was wearing the VR headset while the others were looking at the GIS map on a large screen. They were all inspecting the same location but came to different conclusions.

A client engineer looked at the GIS map and noticed a pale material on the ground. While the ICT team initially commented that it was probably gravel, the stakeholder with the VR headset immersed themselves in the virtual space. After a few seconds he determined that it was not gravel, but lichens, which indicated the presence of water.

This key information, discovered remotely only with the help of the VR experience, led to the relocation and proper siting of the tower, avoiding a potentially costly and dangerous mistake had it been planned for the original location.

The silver lining to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has driven innovation in the way we work and resulted in more businesses being open to virtual reality and other digital solutions that will remain long after COVID-19 is gone. Companies like Golder have been utilizing and refining digital alternatives for many years, and for those of us who work on the front lines of innovation, these challenges are familiar, and we are no strangers to change.

We invite you to jump into another world and explore how VR solutions might work for your projects.

Maurizio Terpin

Maurizio Terpin Member Name

UX Designer

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