Team Spotlight: Gerry Ong,
Head of Geospatial & Co-Founder

8 Questions with Gerry

Get to know him & interesting facts on LiDAR

Arkadiah’s Head of Geospatial & Co-Founder

Leader of ASEAN FLAG’s Climate Change & Sustainability working group to bring transparency and traceability in Forestry and Biodiversity Management throughout ASEAN

1. Tell us what you do at Arkadiah and how would you explain your job to someone outside the industry?

I lead the Geospatial team at Arkadiah. We use LiDAR equipment and remote sensing to map forests and organise the information for our scientists to calculate forest carbon biomass and assess the state of the forest for possible mitigation or intervention strategies.

Arkadiah’s Head of Geospatial & Co-Founder

Leader of ASEAN FLAG’s Climate Change & Sustainability working group to bring transparency and traceability in Forestry and Biodiversity Management throughout ASEAN

1. Tell us what you do at Arkadiah and how would you explain your job to someone outside the industry?

I lead the Geospatial team at Arkadiah. We use LiDAR equipment and remote sensing to map forests and organise the information for our scientists to calculate forest carbon biomass and assess the state of the forest for possible mitigation or intervention strategies.

2. You were a land surveyor for over 30 years. How did you get started in geospatial for nature technology?

As a land surveyor, I was involved in various Building/Construction projects, 3D mapping and other governmental initiatives including digital twin creation of cities.

An opportunity came to work with a forward thinking arborist to create a national digital map of trees for the country. Through this, I worked with government authorities to use LiDAR to improve productivity, data integrity and traceability of tree measurements.

3. Can you explain LiDAR technology to us in simple terms?

LiDAR stands for Light Detection And Ranging. This technology uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges or distances. There are various grades of LiDAR used for a variety of use cases and costs. The LiDAR technology Arkadiah uses for forest mapping is extremely high quality and precise, considered as Professional Survey grade.

4. How does Arkadiah use LiDAR to estimate carbon biomass for carbon dioxide removals?

Some of our satellite data like GEDI is LiDAR-derived. At the same time, we emphasize the importance of on-site ground measurements, also called “ground truth”.

At these sites, we use LiDAR scanners to generate extremely high definition and precise digital reconstruction of the trees to determine the total wood volume and apply tree species specific carbon factor to calculate carbon biomass.   

5. When you are on site to take ground measurements, tell us what is most challenging and what gives you the greatest satisfaction?

One of the most challenging aspects of my work involves navigating and operating in extremely difficult terrains like water-logged swampy lands. Every step is gruelling, and we must remain vigilant against potential hazards from insects, reptiles, and even leeches in those environments.

However, no matter how arduous the conditions, the greatest satisfaction comes from collecting accurate, reliable, and traceable datasets. Enabling our scientists to achieve higher accuracy and ground truth-backed analysis through the data we painstakingly gather makes braving those challenging terrains tremendously rewarding.

6. You lead the work group for ASEAN FLAG’s Climate Change & Sustainability. Can you share how we are collaborating as a region to bring greater transparency and traceability in Forestry and Biodiversity Management?

Through collaborative efforts at ASEAN FLAG, fellow professionals are engaging their respective stakeholders within the Environmental, Forestry, Biodiversity spaces to demonstrate the power of modern digital solutions that brings transparency and traceability to nature asset monitoring, reporting and validation.

After several trials, there has been positive receptivity and recognition for the immense potential to adopt these innovations.

This signals a pivotal shift in mindsets.

I am hopeful that this can start a positive momentum to expand adoption throughout ASEAN and set a new global standard for forestry and biodiversity stewardship.

7. What do you hope to see that LiDAR or other geospatial technology can do for nature restoration?

I look forward to future advancements allowing agile mini or micro-sized drones equipped with LiDAR sensors to autonomously survey and map forest areas. These drones could freely navigate through the trees, continuously collecting detailed mapping data that gets transmitted back in real-time.

This capability would revolutionise forest management practices by providing unprecedented transparency into the state of these ecosystems through comprehensive, accurately-traced spatial data. With this level of insight, we can make more timely and informed decisions to better conserve and restore natural forestlands.

8. What is your favourite dessert? 

Vanilla Ice Cream!

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