Women blazing the GIS industry with drone technology

Perhaps it was a good thing that Women and drones decided it was time they stretched their reach to other parts of the world outside the organisation’s home base in the USA.

In the short time the African chapter of Women and Drones has been in existence in has lifted the lid on the sheer amount of work female drone professional have been doing in the drone in the drone industry. Louise Jupp. Kim James. Itumeleng Mokoena. Zethu Gumede.

And now we have Andiswa Silinga and Tankiso Phidza.

Well; they has not been featured on the trailblazing women series — not yet, anyway — but the South Africa based women’s company, Gemini GIS and Environmental Services, is living right on the frontier of technology in geospatial data management solutions.

“We provide Geospatial data management solutions that help mining, construction, energy, and infrastructure businesses to make informed operational decisions using maps to discover trends and patterns,” Andiswa told Lioness of Africa Magazine last week. “We use cutting edge technologies such as Geographical information Systems (GIS) and Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles (UAV) aka “drones” to collect accurate and near to real time location data, and then we analyse and interpret the data. Our solutions include aerial surveys, asset/infrastructure mapping, environmental compliance and monitoring, site mapping and inspections.”

We love it when people use drone technology to solve today’s industrial and humanitarian problems. With their high quality imagery, drones have found a natural home in the geospatial space, not least because they also offer the convenience of real-time imagery and the flexibility for users to capture data in their own time frame.

Andiswa founded Gemini GES together with Tankiso Phidza; the two women being driven by their need to fill a hole in the geospatial space that had been left gaping by the lack of female representation.

Both women have a background in geospatial information systems and environmental management.

Andiswa and Tankiso. Picture: Lioness of Africa

“At the time there were few Geospatial/GIS professionals, especially women, and the industry was also not aware of the value-add that GIS can have on businesses,” Andiswa says. “I’m driven by new challenges and data management technologies, so instead of working for one company I decided to share my knowledge with other companies through my own business and also learn how GIS technology can be implemented in different industries.

“While I was still employed, I started testing the market by putting proposals to a number of companies and governmental departments. What motivated me was the positive feedback from the companies I was submitting the proposals to. But one of the reasons we were not offered the projects was that we were not well marketed and our brand was not known. That gave me courage to jump ship and start my own company.”

Besides Andiswa and Tankiso, there are four other fulltime employees at Gemini GES (they are all women), and a slew of consulting professionals, whom the company contracts depending on their projects.

Asked what value her company brought to today’s industrial problems, Andiswa had this to say; “We are in the era of data analytics where companies need to have accurate information at the tip of their hands to make quick and informed decisions. A number of businesses have a lot of data at their disposal but do not realize that if you add in the location component a lot of information can be extracted to give insight on what is happening in the areas they operate in, the risks they face, and what action needs to be taken.

“For example, if a company wants to develop a shopping mall, they need to make sure that they have chosen the best location. We help such companies to map and analyse the area by collecting demographic data, environmental sensitive features in the area, existing infrastructure in the area, etc., overlaying these datasets and use visualization techniques based on the spatial relationships of the data.

“This gives the company a sense of whether the location is the best or not.”


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