Geo Week News

September 17, 2014

Trimble Adds Data Marketplace to Cloud Offering, Acquires AEC Company Gehry Technologies

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Geospatial Content for Purchase
Two weeks ago, Trimble announced upgrades for the InSphere platform they introduced back in March, including a new service called Data Marketplace. According to Trimble, “The InSphere Data Marketplace allows geospatial professionals to quickly search, locate and obtain spatial data on demand. InSphere users can now find and use additional free and premium spatial data layers, including aerial and satellite imagery, terrain, elevation and topographic maps, building footprints and other third-party data.”

That is, in addition to storing your geospatial data in the cloud and allowing the enterprise-wide access that is becoming more common these days, InSphere’s data marketplace will also allow you to purchase data collected by third parties and store it alongside your own. If someone has already captured the data you need, it may cost less to purchase it than to re-capture it for your own purposes.

This business model recalls Hexagon’s announced but not yet available content as a service offering (which I reported on here). It also reflects wider trends in consumer content storage, and geospatial content storage, which are tending toward the cloud. (It’s even the focus of a full feature article in the latest American Surveyor from Oscar Cantu’ of Topcon.)

Trimble’s press release doesn’t offer many more details: “As the latest addition to the InSphere platform of applications, the Data Marketplace service plays an important role in our cloud-based geospatial information management platform. InSphere’s Data Marketplace is designed to help our customers find, manage and use spatial data critical to their business,” said Alain Samaha, business area director of software for Trimble’s Geospatial Division. “Giving our customers access to multiple layers of spatial information makes end deliverables more robust for their clients.”

Next Wednesday, September 24th, however, Trimble is hosting a webinar to introduce the new additions and enhancements. Checking the site for myself (without logging in), I found that there are already data sets ranging from orthomosaics to aerial imagery, to topography data collected by NASA.

Wfm stata centerTrimble Acquires AEC Business Gehry Technologies
Trimble has made a huge amount of acquisitions since the turn of the millennium, and they show no signs of stopping. The latest acquisition is Gehry Technologies, with whom Trimble has announced a “strategic alliance to collaborate to transform the construction industry by further connecting the office to on-site construction technologies.”

You may know Frank Gehry for his striking architecture (this reporter first saw his work at MIT’s Ray and Maria Stata Center, pictured left), but he has also been instrumental in the development of AEC software solutions. To meet the demanding requirements of his architecture, Gehry and his at Gehry Partners developed tools including the GTeam software, a web-based 3D file management and project collaboration platform, and Digital Project, a BIM solution. In 2002, they founded Gehry Technologies to share these solutions as well as others they had developed.

So, why would Trimble acquire them? Industry analyst Monica Schnitger reminds us that Trimble has “never been shy about its intention to create value by smoothing out the AEC supply chain.” Also: Combining Trimble’s expertise and offerings with those from Gehry technologies, the press release says, “will allow architects, engineers, contractors and owners to access data captured during the building planning, design, construction and renovation phases, providing deeper insight, better operating decisions and better asset performance.”

Given their expanding portfolio of AEC solutions, it is not hard to imagine a Trimble software ecosystem that guides necessary project data from the beginning to the end of the “design-build-operate” continuum.

This is, of course, not the first AEC company that Trimble has picked up this year. Here’s the list from the past 6 months: In August, Trimble acquired Manhattan Software, a company that provides computer aided facilities management solutions. In June, they acquired MAYBIM, who specializes in offering BIM services to contractors (specifically MEP contractors). Back in April Trimble’s Tekla acquired the Field3D mobile BIM solution from SVS Innovations.

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