Micah Callough with Esri

Industrial Talk is onsite at the OMG Quarterly Standards Meeting and chatting with Micah Callough, Technical Director with Esri about “GIS Mapping and Bringing Digital Twin to Scale”. Tune in and hear more about the importance of GIS Mapping and Micah's unique insights on this Industrial Talk.

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Welcome to the industrial talk podcast with Scott Mackenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's go


Alright, once again, thank you very much for joining industrial talk a platform dedicated to industry professionals all around the world because you are bold, brave, you dare greatly you're changing lives, you're changing the world and you're making the world a better place. And by the way, like, Mike, right, yeah. You know, this is the number one industrial related podcast in the universe. And I'm not overselling that. It's all backed up by data. Of course, you got the shirt on, I got the shirt. This is I'm owning the hashtag. Right? As you can tell, we're gonna you're gonna hear some buzz in the background. People are heading towards lunch. We are broadcasting on site, Austin, Texas. This is the OMG event. And we was having a great conversation with mica off off the mic and it was like, I don't even know what to call it. Mike is in the hot seat. Let's get cracking digital twin is the topic of conversation and you need to know about it. That was good. All right, man, digital twin. You guys, you know, you're part of this OMG organization. Well, yeah, we had that conversation. But what's interesting is just all the work that is done in these consortiums. Creating the standards, having the conversation, debating what it looks and being able to do that in a productive ways. Always just fascinating for me.


Yeah, there are so many angles that people are coming at it from till you realize every time you walk into a room, there's like 10 different ways to think about the problem. Maybe 100 I should probably say, it never


stops. And it's like it's a use case palooza. Just like Yeah, what about this? Sounds good. And I'll do it that way too, as well. But anyway, before we get going into that conversation, give us a little background on who mica is.


Mica callow. I'm the Technical Director for architecture engineering construction at ESRI. ESRI is the leading creator of GIS software, geographic information system software. So for us, it's all about location.


Okay, what do you see you sum that up real quick, I didn't even get a chance to write down notes. And you were already wrapping it up. And now all of a sudden, I feel a


little bit on me as I'm actually on the I actually come from the industry side of things I worked. I've been at ESRI now for about three years. But prior to that I was actually at Arcadis and also at Bethel. And I did a lot of engineering related work and geospatial related work and a lot of technology related work in the industry side of things.


So you've been around for a little while, and you've seen a lot of changes taking place. And that's, that's pretty cool. It always, I'll just sit here. And I'll just think, gosh, the wisdom, the learning that goes on through the collaboration and talking to other people. And I just I don't know, it's cool. It's cool stuff on this. And I like that a lot. All right, you're here at the this event, q4 OMG. Take us through and define just digital twin.


I mean, there's so many definitions. That's where that's the point. Yeah, start somewhere, you got to start with something and for, for us, it's that digital representation of the object, the thing, the processes that are involved with it. So it's not just the thing, but it's what the thing is doing at that moment in time. And then what it potentially could do into the future. And for us, it's really a lot about understanding the location of that thing, because that's how it connects you to what's going on around the thing. So we don't all live in a vacuum, as we've talked about, with the 1000s of use cases that are here. I mean, there's so many things that people are trying to solve problems that they're trying to solve for. So the reality is, is for us digital twins is a way to kind of take what we've all been doing all along. So it's not like we're jumping from nothing to this idea of a digital twin. It's that we're beginning to start to make that connection of things that we've all got in our back pocket and in our systems and in back shops and on servers, and God knows where and we bring that all together under one roof and started to be able to connect that information in order to solve these problems and start to think about things in in more than an incremental change way a kind of a jump forward way.


The what I can appreciate is being able to take that sort of virtual representation. So you got the you got the let's say it's a building you got the brick and mortar right there. I can touch it. I can you know, walk on or whatever it might be, but then being able to connect write that into a sort of a digital representation that is a twin of the brick and mortar but be able to run also see things quickly and run simulations and be able to do that effectively. That to me is a fascinating solution.


Wow. And for me, it goes even further, right? So a lot of people talk about, it's mainly because it's where we're at, at this stage, people are basically looking at the individual thing that they have an understanding of, or that they're responsible for that they're trying to control. But then I start to think about it like, Well, step back, right, there's a million bit buildings in that city. That city has pipes and networks underneath it at scale. The roads have moved, people need to move around the city mobility, not just cars, right? So in our parking lot here, we're looking at in this hotel, it's all about the car coming in and out. But what about the people moving around on the sidewalks? Can Can they get from point A to point B safely? What did what is going on on that traffic flow right now? How can I get safely to the location that I'm trying to move from and to? So that's all a part of basically starting to understand this. And it's that digital twin kind of at scale? And that's what what ESRI does. So well, it's the geographic information systems. It's that understanding of Mapping Our World, or the geographic approach, which is a foundational piece to basically being able to get to these real digital twins that are truly connected.


I don't even know. Because you're just you're just, you're you're you brought in so many different angles. And that just that conversation right there how to, I don't even know where to begin. I mean, you just do I just go over to that parking lot and make sure that that's efficient. I don't even know, is that even worth it? I don't know,


I think that's the interesting thing, I think we're gonna have to start to think about how we surface this to an audience that doesn't necessarily understand BIM, right. Like, for example, GIS CMMS. All these technology buzzwords that we like to throw out that we rely on day in and day out to do what we do. As either engineering firms or as operators who are operating these assets into the future, you've got to start to think about how you can connect those together and surface in a way to keep it continuously kind of updated such that a basic user, my mother would not have a problem understanding what's going on. How do I move from point A to point B? Where are the outages in the city today? Get Perfect. Case in point I heard in North Carolina this morning, there was a one of the transfer stations got shot up, and it blew out the electricity for the city for the last 48 hours. Right. So understanding that model, being able to understand what they need to do to fix that and what it means to connect the rest of the city. That's where the geographic approach really starts to come into play.


You know, it's sort of odd, because it's like, if you're doing your job well, and things are moving. And you know, it. It's almost like that thankless job. If a consumer me, and it's all of a sudden, Hey, how come the lights are blinking? That's not good. I'm just supposed to say, hey, the lights are on. I don't even notice that the lights are on, right? It's almost it can't be noticed. Yes, it's gotta happen. And it's like, yeah, I went from a to b. And it was, oh, it was painless.


Yeah, bit of Wizard of the oz kind of an approach. That's it, right? It's who's behind the curtain pulling the strings. That's where I think when we start to think about tapping into what we already do, and we already do mapping, we've been mapping the world for as long as humans have been around, and we've been writing it on stone and tablet. We just have a lot better technology today, thankfully, and we can map and understand our world. Well, if all of these digital representations are on the earth, which are even not like for example, let's say we're putting something on Mars, everything. Every problem has location at its center period, where you and I are sitting right now in this hotel room in Austin, Texas. And then in the two chairs that we're in, we have location and then underneath of us is a lot of things that are going on. There's the city, there's the water supply, there's the electricity we're using for this


I'm hyperventilating I again, when when I'll put my my my customer hat on. I come to Esri ESRI. And I don't sometimes I don't even know my problem. Yeah. And then you're you're trying to convert it into a sort of a digital representation. Very cool. How do you how do you approach it? I mean, I just I don't I think


he tried to make it


and then stick it in a server farm. Like the size of Australia.


Yeah, I think it's it's really about connecting with people where where they're at, right like so, some people see the world in 2d, right? So let's say I'm the guy who's, who's responsible for the power lines. And I just and there's an outage in the middle of the night, I just need the schematics to understand the connectivity. And I need to know in real time, what is going on, and what happens if I do something. So in that case, the guy might just need a schematic that is a digital twin, right? That that is a representation of that thing. It's got real time sensors in it, it's got control in it. Now, I also might be the architect or the planner, or somebody who's trying to convince the stakeholders that we need to do something in a city. And in which case, I might want to look at that world in more of a 3d fashion, something that's more realistic or reality based. So it's not a one size fits all. And quite frankly, talking as a software company, I get myself into trouble this way. It's also not a one software solution, period, there is no one vendor out there that solves all of these problems. It's a matter of of how do we connect, which is why we're here at this digital twin Consortium. Yeah,


you can't underestimate the necessity to collaborate. Yeah, especially with, like, again, you've got you know, it's a use case tsunami, and then because you guys, you and, and the rest of OMG members, just go back to your communities, and this is what you do. And you just think about it, you work in and you're going Hey, that's pretty cool. And you just keep on. But But then, and then it speaks to the necessity for standards. Yeah. Because it could be the wild west out there. And not to say the Wild West is not bad. But but in the in, in an environment like this where it's rapidly changing, there has to be some sort of guardrails to a certain extent or defined, it's just like, Okay, here we go. Something I feel like it's been thoroughly vetted and debated with people who just live this stuff. Yeah, I


think sometimes everybody is very myopic, when they're starting to think about the problem they're trying to solve, or sometimes to be, quite frankly, they're not even solving the problem. They're just trying to apply. They have technology, and they're trying to apply it. So I think we've got to do a better job generally as a society about stepping back and understanding what is the true problem and really boiling it down to the people that we're solving for? And in most cases, it's either a consumer or a citizen. I mean, that's who we all work for period. It's one or the other. And then understanding then from backup, okay, well, what does that mean? How do I how, what do they need? What technology? Do they need to solve this problem? How do we make it connected? How do we standardize so that we can communicate more effectively, we need to quit building these kind of, I call them blind alleys, where people have built up technology and they take the data and they they transfer, the problem we have is huge chunks of data are coming out now. Right? We're talking 3d, giant models. So now all of a sudden, we've got this, we're taking all this data down a blind alley. And when we get that data down that blind alley, it's we can solve for the problem that we were trying to solve for. But then when somebody shifts, like you said, all of a sudden, it's like, well, what do I do? I'm kind of stuck.


I see a problem to or challenge is many, I mean, many countless people. I don't even know I have a problem. Yeah, I don't even know. I just live, this is how I live. I don't know I have a problem. But then. But then you can come to the table and say, hey, what if you did it this way? Oh, all of a sudden, I know, I have a problem. And you came up with a solution. It's also the realization that


my I had a boss a long time ago. Well, not a long time ago, it wasn't that long ago. What's your


seven? Give me a little more than that.


I've been doing this almost 30 years. So it's kind of interesting. He said to me, I was oftentimes technology trying to find the problem to solve, right. That's been my career or had been my early days. And what he said to me was, is look the most of the time that customers don't even know the problem that they need to be solved. They think they do. Right. So in a lot of ways, when we talk about building digital twins, it's not an all technology thing. It's actually predominantly a people thing. What are the people in the what are the issues? What are we actually trying to accomplish? And then we're applying the technology on top of that, to help them understand their reality characterize what's happening, which is where what we do with maps and data come into play, right? So we start to understand and map it out in a way they can understand, then we start to simplify that. And then we start to surface it and say, Okay, here's what we can do with that, right? And you need to do that over and over again. It can it can no longer be like build these monolithic data environments. It's about how do you build these continuously update, updated environments? And that's one of the issues that we see a ton is that people are just, they're building these things that are very silo driven like for example, what design engineer starts, opens up civil 3d And he's got a blank drawing. It's a It's usually a blank page, right? And it's like, well, wait a minute, that building or that bridge actually exists somewhere on Earth and where it exists matters in what you're going to do. So why don't you use the understanding of our earth through the geographic approach, and then start to build what you're going to build influenced by what it should be influenced by.


Sounds good to me. Frankly, what's interesting, and we don't highlight it enough. I think it is a people equation. I, I've always been one that says, hey, technology is a technology. I mean, there's a will there's a way they're going to they're going to evolve the technology in such a way that it's the technology. Yep. It's always that definition of what the challenge is what the problem that needs to be solved in leveraging the technology, but it gets down to the people. Yeah. I mean, having those, those, those conversations.


well, I mean, it's how you be successful is if you make people successful, make them how they can see, understand how they can see each other success and what they're doing, it starts to things start to happen, they start to connect, the problem we have today is that sometimes people don't even see that they could help each other in case in and they put themselves in an adversarial role, almost like I'm controlling the as you're controlling that building the kingdom kind of approach, right. And that's when we start to talk about things at scale, like I talked about, when you start talking about intersecting the built in the natural world, that's massive scales, it influences and hits a lot of people. So it's really not about the technology, we've got the technology part more or less worked out. Yeah, it's the people part that we've got to work out.


And that just the only thing I can think of is that it's just a continuation of just communicating the technology communicating the solutions, all the use cases, what about this? Because I gotta I gotta tell you, you know, when I was broadcasting from IoT, just a number of years ago, three years ago, four years, or whatever it is, I can't keep track the math. Anyway, the significant the changes that took place from when I had those conversations to today. Yep. It's like yours. Yeah. And me just as a human being, to be able to say, oh, my gosh, I'm just still evaluating version one over here now, but you're on version 27. Yeah, it's a hard, but it has to happen. Yeah,


we talk a lot about how, especially on the software side of things that we're we're at these events, we're talking about really innovative stuff. It's amazing. But the reality is, sometimes we need to go back to the club 101 class, right? We're all talking at PhD level in some cases. And if we want to make this at scale, we want to start to bring everyone along on the journey, instead of the select few, then we're going to have to start bringing it down to a level that's and understand


your preaching my language, because I agree with you, you've got to tip you got to paint that story. You can't you can't just jump over here to fusion. Yeah. When you don't understand the, you know, the, the the easier stuff to understand and take people on that journey. Yep. So it's like, okay, I get it. I understand. Now I can, now I can look at my world, from the perspective of what I've learned, and then be able to apply the technology to what is really meaningful. But I think before we depart, I think one last shot is you got to collaborate, because this is just it's a it's a conversation, a collaborative conversation. Yeah, we, we use like you.


Yeah, we talk a lot about, it's interesting. Sustainability has come up in this kind of topic. It's kind of this all encompassing topic, because we want to do things in a more sustainable way. But the reality is, people always think about sustainability purely from an environmental perspective. But its sustainability means so much more than that, right? It's about your business. It's about your health, it's about you, as an individual is about your organization. It needs to be looked at and kind of a 360 degree, not just counting carbon, right? So the idea is that when we start to build out these things, we need to think about them differently. And for us, it's about as we build these new crazy infrastructure projects. I saw your tag on your bag over there for Neom. Right. So now a lot of our customers and some of my colleagues are working on that project. Yeah, we were there. Our technology is used to map out that project and understand it from a geographic perspective. But those projects are mega, monolithic,


huge. You have no idea. Yeah. It's insane.


Right? So you've got to start to think about how do I do this in a way that it's going to be sustainable, that is equitable for the people that are involved. And it's going to be resilient when things change because we know things are gonna change right? And we've seen that all over the place and that again, that's why I bring back that built a natural world comment. I like this.


You deliver mica, how do people get? First, you got to get a hold of mica? How do people get a hold of Mike?


It's Mica. So it's MCALLO Ug h@esri.com. Or you can look me up on LinkedIn, I'm very active there.


There it is. Well, we're gonna have all the contact your contact information out on industrial talk. So if you're not listeners, you got to reach out to you got to educate, collaborate, and innovate, you got to do that. That's so important. Mica, thank you very much. Thank you, you're gonna be here till the rest of the week, I will be. I'm gonna be waving at him. All right, listeners, we're gonna wrap it up on the other side, we're gonna remember you gotta reach out to Micah, you will not be disappointed. So stay tuned, we will be right back.


You're listening to the industrial talk Podcast Network.


Now, that's a wrap. Thank you very much to Micah for joining industrial talk at the end of q4, q4 OMG meeting in Austin, Texas. And and this is what I get from all of these conversations, especially from OMG. You need to be engaged, you need to be a part of the organization, you need to be able to have at your disposal, all of these incredible professionals that truly are passionate about solving problems, you're at, you're in a business, you're looking for solutions, you need to collaborate with these professionals as much as you possibly can. And your first step is really to just sort of go out to O M g.org. That's omg.org and see what it looks like. route around the website, there's so much information about OMG about its membership, just telling you it's a it's a positive move for your business because you need to find these individuals who are also challenged by certain problems that they're dealing with but they're they have at their resources in professionals solving problems. That's what it is. All right. You know what I'm gonna say? Be bold, be brave, daring greatly. Hang out with Micah hanging out with Micah hang out with people at OMG and you're going to change the world. We're going to have another great conversation coming up shortly from that event. So stay tuned. We will be right back.

Scott MacKenzie

About the author, Scott

I am Scott MacKenzie, husband, father, and passionate industry educator. From humble beginnings as a lathing contractor and certified journeyman/lineman to an Undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Business Administration, I have applied every aspect of my education and training to lead and influence. I believe in serving and adding value wherever I am called.

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