TECTERRA: Tell us about VEERUM.
Steve Fisher: Sure. VEERUM is a team of about 28 smart, young individuals working downtown here in Calgary and VEERUM is really focused on cutting the costs and schedule risks on big capital projects. It was founded by three guys who came from the capital projects industry, who had been seeing this problem for decades and finally decided to leave our other jobs and do something about it. So what VEERUM is doing, is VEERUM creates digital twin of the physical reality of a big capital project and then we take that digital twin, import your project plans into that same model and use analytics to find the issues in the virtual world before they impact the physical project.
TECTERRA: What did TECTERRA help you build? Tell us about the product.
Steve Fisher: TECTERRA has helped us in a few ways. They helped us hire some bright young people that we probably wouldn't be able to afford to hire without their support, so that's been great. Also, as you can imagine, we require large sums of data and we need to be able to have that data streaming to us on regular basis. So we put together a robotics project with Cenovus with support from TECTERRA to use robots to carry all of our data capture gear around the sites to autonomously capture data for us so we can just have access to more and more accurate data. Another project we did was thorough asset tracking, again with Cenovus, we set up a lower network, a mesh network on one of Cenovus's sites to be able to track assets as they are moved around that facility.
TECTERRA: How is the product that you've created revolutionizing an industry or changing a market?
Steve Fisher: I think the big changes that are coming about through our digital twin is just really being able to control the cost and schedule risks on these big capital projects. By gathering a very disparate dataset together to create that digital twin, we're really being able to see problems in advance on these projects, which allows our clients to go in and make very cost-effective changes now instead of waiting until that problem hits in the middle of that big capital project where it's very costly and also has a massive impact to their schedules. So we're seeing these problems in advance.
TECTERRA: What are the cost implications for your clients?
Steve Fisher: Currently on a global scale, the average capital project overruns its budget by about 30%. And this is happening with 90% of the projects out there. So it's not just a small problem. It's a full-blown global epidemic. McKinsey & Co., who I work with closely, have equated it to 1.6 trillion dollars a year in unbudgeted and wasted capital. If you're the owner of a big capital project and you're making an investment decision, then you know a project might cost you 1.8 billion, or it might cost you 2.5 billion, but you're not going to know until the project is over. That makes it very difficult for those owner-operators to make investment decisions because they don't really know what their ROI is. So what that's doing is it's just ensuring that there's less and less infrastructure being built around our world. And we need that infrastructure to be built. We're really focused on reducing that risk for those owner-operators, which will attract more capital into these big infrastructure projects and is going to be a major component towards any type of shift towards sustainable energy or bringing any of the first-world luxuries to everywhere else in the third world. Because without that infrastructure, they won't have the water and the energy that we currently take for granted.
TECTERRA: How is the geospatial industry changing and how is your company responding to the change?
Steve Fisher: It's changing very rapidly right now. Data capture technologies are moving at a tremendous pace. The tools we were using two and three years ago, we are no longer using. You know, autonomous drone operations, low orbit satellites, hand scanners. All of these things are massively changing the datasets that are available to us and the cost of those datasets. So the data's getting better and the costs and going down. And when you're in that type of a situation where data almost becomes ubiquitous and super low cost, that provides a lot of opportunity to derive value from that data.
TECTERRA: What does it mean to be nominated for the product of the year?
Steve Fisher: Well, I think it means we must be doing something that matters. Obviously, to get recognition is always a great, great thing, especially from an organization like TECTERRA. So we're quite proud of that. But to me, it just helps vindicate our efforts and that we are doing something that can make a difference in the world because it's important enough to get recognized for. And I think it also will really help to draw more attention to these changes and to help push ourselves through the early adopters into the early majority from a market perspective. Because we need people to be aware that there's new and better ways to do things.
TECTERRA: How does your technology demonstrate a big leap in geospatial technology?
Steve Fisher: I think the big leap into digital twin world where we're recreating reality down to that precise level of detail that was never before possible, I think it's going to massively disrupt the way a lot of projects are executed, but then how a lot of those facilities are operated moving forward. You know there's just so much inefficiency in the old methods and the need to actually be physically there to see what's happening and to wrap your head around and better understand the reality of that situation. By creating digital twins in the format that we're doing, it's allowing people to be sitting downtown Calgary and precisely understand what's physically happening up in Fort McMurray and in other remote places. It's really cutting down on the amount of time our clients are having to spend going back and forth from an office downtown to a very remote project. It’s really helping those guys. The ability to bring a twin together, then be able to apply analytics, which was never possible before without that very unique dataset. Now we've got that dataset that we can actually apply analytics to make an impact on that project. You know humans are unfortunately fallible. In the past, we've had to rely on very senior guys to be able to make these decisions based off their experience. Whereas now with that digital twin, we can use technologies and analytics trending towards machine learning and AI to actually make better decisions.
TECTERRA: What does it mean to be nominated for the most disruptive technology award?
Steve Fisher: It means we're doing something right. We're shaking up an industry, right? And it's right for change right now. We need to change how we're delivering capital projects. They're incredibly inefficient and incredibly risky. You know the fact that we're able to impact these projects in a significant way, I think shows where the opportunity lies to leverage digital twin technologies. And we're just really happy to be in this local Calgary market working with the clients we have an getting the support that we have. And then being able to get some recognition on top of it, I think that's pretty cool.