Interview: Robert Kennedy, C.R. Kennedy & Company

13 January 2022

In our Leaders Forum, we asked the experts to look ahead into 2022. Today we talk technology with Robert Kennedy, a director of C.R. Kennedy & Company (the Leica Geosystems distributor for Australia) and managing director of Hexagon SmartNet Aus, Australia’s largest RTK CORS network.

Robert Kennedy, Director, C.R. Kennedy & Company

Which technologies will revolutionise the surveying, space or spatial sectors in 2022?

The future is autonomous data collection. We have seen this with our partner Leica Geosystems’ recent launch of two exciting new autonomous products, the Leica BLKARC and BLK2FLY. These two LiDAR systems utilise robotic autonomy (a quadruped robot and a quadcopter drone) to navigate real-world environments and acquire accurate point-cloud data automatically. Soon it will be commonplace for robots to be acquiring remote site data, not people. Yet even with full autonomous data collection, the geospatial professional will always be required to confirm the data, make sense of it, and ultimately make informed decisions from it.

How can the industry play a role in the recovery from the COVID pandemic?

Everyone in the industry should have the confidence that the worst of COVID lockdowns are behind us. The economy will rebound like a depressed coiled spring when a heavy weight is lifted. Geospatial services and data will be in as high demand as ever, and we all need to be prepared for this.

How is Australasia placed in the global context? Are we racing ahead or falling behind?

Australasia is known globally to be early adopters of the latest technological trends. I believe we’re racing ahead with the latest technological adoptions. You can see how commonplace nationwide CORS networks, mobile laser scanning and RPAS have become in our industry in such a short time, and autonomy will be next.

Which challenges or opportunities should the industry be focused on?

There is a chronic shortage of qualified geospatial professionals. The federal government recently added surveyors to the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List, which will help, but we need to be training these professionals locally at our world-class tertiary institutions.

The world has enough bankers and lawyers. We need to cut through to school leavers and let them know that the geospatial industry offers lifelong fulfilling careers, with jobs that are in high demand and that pay exceptionally well.

What do you think your customers are looking for in 2022?

Our clients are always looking for an edge to increase efficiencies and provide better deliverables. If we can help our clients achieve this by offering the best products backed with our local after-sales service and support, we’re doing our jobs.

What are your organisation’s priorities for 2022?

Our company’s priority remains unchanged. We continue to work closely with our partner Leica Geosystems and offer our customers the best possible service, support and products in the industry. I’m confident that 2022 will be a year of tremendous growth and opportunity for the geospatial industry. We all need to be ready for it!

What’s on your wish list for 2022?

My wish is for the industry to continue the democratisation of geospatial data. The demand for high-quality geospatial data will only continue to grow. It becomes a feedback loop, whereby the more people who have access to high-quality geospatial data, the better the decisions that stakeholders can make, and in turn the greater the future demand for more geospatial data will be.

Consider the Leica BLK360 laser scanner. We have numerous customers using this scanner in industries we had never previously considered, yet they had demand for accurate geospatial data that we weren’t addressing. Now we have some of these customers purchasing their third, fourth or even fifth scanner.

This article was first published in issue 116 of Position magazine.

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