When describing my experience visiting the offices of Kappa Mapping, these words keep coming to mind: “This is so cool!”
You may not have known that at 6 State St. in downtown Bangor, Maine, is a company that is mapping all sorts of areas for clients around the world.
I had the opportunity to tour the company with owner Claire Kiedrowski and peer over the shoulders of her employees while they worked on computers mapping many interesting projects, from a road that soon will be widened to a harbor that included depths and other interesting features.
Kiedrowski launched Kappa Mapping in 2003. Today she has nine employees who serve clients that include municipalities, government agencies, architects, engineers, surveyors, airports and more.
On its website, the company describes what it does as, “High-quality, photogrammetric and GIS services that help our clients solve complex problems, monitor important resources, and better manage their communities. Kappa is known for excellence in all areas of aerial imagery and mapping, softcopy photogrammetry, digital orthophotography, and GIS.”
“We help our clients see everything so they have the information they need to plan projects and make well informed decisions,” Kiedrowski explains. “We can map anywhere.”
Kappa Mapping is based in Maine, but its clients are everywhere. It recently did a project for a utility firm in Texas and mapped the city of Anchorage, Alaska, for a municipal planning project.
The company mapped a golf course in New York in preparation for the 2009 U.S. Open, producing a 3D model of the course that was used in part to assist the media televising coverage of the event.
In Zelienople, Pennsylvania, it found obstacles from an aerial survey to provide the airport with information about structures and other nearby potential hazards. Using that information, the Federal Aviation Administration can more accurately control and direct flights in and out of the airport to ensure safety.
Closer to home, some of Kappa Mapping’s projects have included work on the Penobscot Narrows Bridge project to help guide the engineering and construction firm hired to dismantle the Waldo-Hancock Bridge safely with minimal impact on traffic and wildlife.
Maine’s Department of Marine Resources hired Kappa Mapping to do a count of the number of buoys in Tenants Harbor. Knowing the numbers and locations of the buoys allowed the department to better monitor any potential shipping channel conflicts and danger of whales getting entangled.
Kappa Mapping contracted with an aerial survey provider to map an area in Hampden to support a large development project. Both LiDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging, and aerial imagery were acquired.
Kiedrowski explains, “Light colors in this image represent higher elevations and darker colors represent lower elevations. Note the interstate in the top left of the image and the road that crosses over it. There is a stream in the lower right corner and the large white polygon in the center is a landfill.
“I love our work and the interesting projects we get to work on,” says Kiedrowski. “Keeping up with all the new technology keeps it fun and challenging, too.”
New technology used for mapping includes drones as well as high-end graphics and laser technologies provided by the gaming industry.
“The hardware and software in this industry is advancing rapidly. It can be exhausting trying to keep up with it — not to mention finding the capital to invest in it,” Kiedrowski says.
As far as finding employees who “can keep up with it,” Kiedrowski describes her best employees as people who “like to learn and can be adaptable, flexible and problem solvers. We work as an ensemble on projects so they have to be team players.”
Kiedrowski adds, “A lot of what we do is on-the-job training. I hire aptitude and attitude first and teach the rest.”
Since Kiedrowski founded the company, there is a lot more mapping data available to the general public.
“We have to always be one step ahead of that and educate our clients and others that what they can find online isn’t going to provide the kind of detail they are looking for to meet their needs,” Kiedrowski says.
So the next time you pass by 6 State St. in downtown Bangor, think about the company inside creating jobs while creating maps for clients here in Maine and around the world.
That is so cool.