UK’s Bluesky acquires US aerial survey company Col-East

March 15, 2017  - By

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British aerial mapping innovator Bluesky International is expanding its business into North America following the acquisition of Col-East Inc., a Massachusetts-based aerial survey company. Col-East has been mapping the Northeast United States for 65 years and will continue as Col-East International Ltd., forming the U.S. arm of Bluesky.

Founded in 1952, Col-East has a long-established reputation for high-quality topographic mapping with particular expertise in specialized aerial surveys, such as high-precision aeronautical mapping requiring skilled analysis. Bluesky has seen an increase in the demand for specialized large-scale mapping, 3D modeling and feature extraction in recent years in the European market, and the company intends to apply these skills to the expanding U.S. market.

Bluesky has improved on aerial mapping techniques in the UK in recent years, backed by the latest digital cameras and 3D laser mapping technology. The Leicestershire-based company will not only be equipping Col-East aircraft with the latest digital aerial surveying equipment, including cameras and sensors for laser (lidar), thermal and infrared capture, but will also be building on the existing technical and experienced Col-East skill base by introducing new workflows and image-processing techniques honed in the competitive U.K. and European markets.

“Britain has a long tradition as a pioneer in mapping techniques, and the Bluesky team was behind the creation of what was the world’s first nationwide high-resolution aerial photo map, created back in 1998,” said Rachel Tidmarsh, managing director of Bluesky International Ltd. “Since then, we have developed new systems and techniques that are underpinning advances in environmental and 3D mapping, and we will be introducing these advancements to the U.S. market with the acquisition of Col-East.”

As well as topographical mapping and aeronautical work, Col-East offers a range of aerial imaging services such as the production of terrain models, orthophotos and volumetrics, providing cost-effective mapping solutions from estates to development sites and complex transportation corridors.

Col-East owns a huge archive of aerial photography that has been captured over many years and dates, back to 1946. Col-East will gain immediate access to Bluesky’s proprietary technology used in the development of some ground-breaking derived products, including 3D building modeling, tree mapping, air quality mapping and state-wide solar power potential mapping. Products will also be available to purchase through the new Col-East online Mapshop, which will be launched soon.

“It’s a very exciting time for Col-East,” said Mark Thaisz owner and general manager at Col-East. “Bluesky is bringing significant investment, new technology and added resources that will allow the business to expand freely. Already we’ve equipped our aircraft with a new Vexcel UltraCam Eagle survey camera which offers high accuracy and unsurpassed clarity to bring a whole new edge to the aerial survey market in New England.”

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