Canadian government contracts AI mapping company to help plan rural area networks

Toronto AI mapping company Ecopia has won an open-bidding contract with the Canadian government to provide map data for network deployment planning.

Under the contract, Ecopia will help identify, on a building-by-building basis, which buildings across rural Canada likely need broadband internet access. It will create maps for all rural areas in Canada and the data will be used as future sources for broadband analysis and deployments.

This contract exclusively focuses on rural areas in Canada, but the company says urban areas are also on Ecopia’s roadmap.

The company uses a variety of geospatial datasets to create fine-grained 3D vector maps. Its AI-based system can produce HD vector maps with the accuracy of trained GIS professionals at scale.

These maps can distinguish between 14 standard landcover features such as roadways, pavement, parking lots, water, forests, railways and others to help city planners understand the network deployment situation.

Ecopia claims it produces millions of square kilometres of vector maps per month with “best-in-class accuracy.”

“More than half of rural communities across Canada still do not have access to broadband Internet,” wrote a company to IT World Canada in an email statement. “The data delivered as part of this initiative will be leveraged by the Government and other stakeholders in the telecommunications industry to plan and deploy the infrastructure required to bridge the digital divide – enabling more Canadians to participate in the digital economy.”

Beyond network planning, 3D vector maps are also used in environmental conservations, civil engineering, urban planning, infrastructure safety assessments and logistics planning.

A demo of the details Ecopia AI's 3D vector maps provide in a city block in Barcelona, Spain.
A demo of the details Ecopia’s 3D vector maps provides in a city block in Barcelona, Spain. The customer can toggle the colour-coded overlays on and off. Click to enlarge. Source: Ecopia

“Ecopia’s innovative approach to analyzing geospatial data is helping us better understand the precise location of Canadian households and exactly what will be needed to meet our goal of connecting 98% of Canadians by 2026, and all Canadians by 2030,” said Guide Hutchins, Minister for Rural Economic Development, in the press release.

Founded in 2013, Ecopia has created maps of regions in more than 100 countries. In 2021, it partnered with Airbus and CGR to create 3D country and content-wide vector maps.

Correction Jan. 24, 10:19 a.m. EST: While Ecopia AI provides 3D vector mapping services that differentiate terrain and buildings, it is not a part of the contract with the Canadian government. The contract with the government only includes mapping data to identify connectivity gaps.

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Tom Li
Tom Li
Telecommunication and consumer hardware are Tom's main beats at IT World Canada. He loves to talk about Canada's network infrastructure, semiconductor products, and of course, anything hot and new in the consumer technology space. You'll also occasionally see his name appended to articles on cloud, security, and SaaS-related news. If you're ever up for a lengthy discussion about the nuances of each of the above sectors or have an upcoming product that people will love, feel free to drop him a line at [email protected].

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