An overhead view of success
Contributions of RIT grads helped get Pictometry off the ground
|RIT grads working at Pictometry include, from left: (front
row) Debra Reid, William Justin Barrett, Stephen Schultz; (second
row) Brian Jackson, Chris Schnaufer, Sophia Stecyk Crosier,
Chris Stanger, Steve Adams, Charles Mondello, John Stoia; (third
row) David Finger, Craig Woodward, Andrew Stewart, Frank Giuffrida,
Astrida Rideout-Merritt, Jon Lynn, Scott Cooper, Alan Costich,
Robert Gray; (fourth row) Thomas Guhl, Keith Avery, R. David
Gregg, Alan Powers and Thom Salter.
Detailed aerial pictures of buildings and land features have a
huge variety of uses.
• Public safety agencies can use them to pinpoint locations
in emergency situations.
• Community planners use them to develop land-use concepts.
• Insurance companies can verify certain property information.
• Roofers can get a good idea of the scope of potential jobs.
“Once you start talking about it, you can think of ideas
and ideas,” says Steve Schultz ’89 (computer
science), chief technology officer, Pictometry International
No wonder the Rochester-based company’s sales revenues have
doubled for each of the past four years. Pictometry captures digital
images with specially equipped airplanes and uses the information
to create a seamless mosaic of pictures that customers can access
using the company’s interactive software. The company’s
growing list of customers includes 125 counties, major
metropolitan areas including New York City and Los Angeles,
several states, federal government agencies and private
Last year, Pictometry entered into a five-year
agreement with Microsoft Corp. to provide aerial images
for use in Microsoft’s Windows
Live Local system.
“Pictometry is going to be one of the most successful companies
to come out of the Rochester area,” says CEO Dick
RIT graduates are central to Pictometry’s success. Of 71
employees in Rochester, 26 are RIT alums. Within the software engineering
department, nine of the 12 engineers are RIT grads.
“The original idea and name for the technology was the brainchild
of John Ciampa, a former RIT professor in the School of
Schultz. “After obtaining a patent in 1993, he contacted
me to develop the technology and I began working on it
part-time in 1994. I was employee No. 1 when we incorporated
The company reincorporated as Pictometry International
in 2000. John Ciampa retired and Kaplan took over as CEO.
At that point, the company faced a problem.
unique technology but no actual product. Kaplan, who has no
technical background, figured out how to wrap the technology
into a product. Schultz made it work.
|Pictometry’s images are shot at an
angle, providing a 3-D view such as this shot of the Administration
Circle at RIT.
While traditional satellite and aerial photography provide
a straight-down view, Pictometry’s images are shot at an
angle. This gives an oblique, 3-dimensional view that provides
much more information to users. Pictometry also offers higher-resolution
images than typical satellite photos.
Pictometry contracts with companies that fly the small
planes taking the pictures. The imaging systems are built
at Pictometry headquarters, and the pilots are instructed
to fly precise grid patterns over areas to be mapped. Typically,
12 shots of each parcel in the grid are captured. The hard
drives containing the images are sent back to Pictometry
for processing and incorporation into the ever-growing
This spring, about 40 planes will be capturing images for Pictometry
in the United States, with 12 more in Europe. Schultz
expects to have 80 percent of the U.S. population covered soon – which amounts to about 15 percent of the country’s
How much data is that? About 60 to 70 terabytes (a terabyte is
a trillion bytes) of imagery so far. Monroe County – where Rochester is located – amounts
to about 70,000 individual images. Los Angeles equals half a
To keep the information up to date, each area is photographed
every two years.
Besides collecting the images and processing them into a usable
database of images, Pictometry also develops software suited
to customers’ particular needs.
For instance, a fire department wanted to be able to superimpose
a map showing the location of water mains and hydrants over the
aerial photographs of a neighborhood. Another fire department
requested an interface that allowed firemen wearing bulky gloves
to navigate the keyboard.
Pictometry accommodates such requests.
“One of the advantages of being a start-up is you’re very nimble,” says
“We’ve got tons of testimonials. Customers love the
software and the images.”
Schultz was working full-time at RIT’s Chester F. Center
for Imaging Science when he left to join Pictometry. He says
some colleagues questioned his decision to leave a secure position
to go with an unproven start-up. Schultz had no doubts.
“It was a great opportunity, even if it hadn’t worked out,” he
says. He’s proud of the company’s accomplishments,
and also pleased with the working environment he helped create.
Turnover is low. In fact, no engineers have left the company
Possibly that is due to connections formed at RIT.
Five of the top engineers were members of Computer Science
House (a special-interest campus residence for technically
inclined students); Schultz and Frank Giuffrida ’89 (electrical
engineering), Pictometry’s vice president of engineering, were co-founders
in 1981of the modern CSH. The two were responsible for obtaining a PDP-11 minicomputer
for the house. They also worked with Barry Culhane (now executive assistant to
RIT President Albert Simone) to develop “RITCISS,” an early computer
information system kiosk for students.
“It can be such a crap shoot when you hire someone,” says
if you know how they work or what they can do, that’s
a huge plus. The RIT grads are a good match for the work we’re
doing at Pictometry.”
For more information about Pictometry, visit www.pictometry.com.
RIT Works! focuses on the contributions of RIT graduates in the
|RIT grads at Pictometry
Pictometry employs 97 nationwide,
including 26 RIT alumni. They are:
- Stephen Schultz ’89 computer science), chief technology officer.
- Frank Giuffrida ’89 (electrical engineering),
senior vice president, engineering.
- Steve Adams ’96 (computer science), software engineer.
- Debra Reid ’93 (computer science), software engineer.
- Craig Woodward ’96 (computer science), software
- Robert Gray ’00 (M.S., computer science), manager,
- Chris Schnaufer ’88 (computer science),
manager, software development.
- R. David Gregg ’84 (business administration),
- Alan Powers ’98 (computer science), software
- Charles Mondello ’83, ’84 (B.S., M.S.,
imaging science), senior vice president for business development.
- Brian Jackson ’96, ’05 (B.F.A. advertising
photography, M.S. printing), director, technical services.
- David Finger (electrical engineering), vice president
for customer technical services.
- Jon Lynn (computer engineering), geospatial analyst.
- Thom Salter ’06 (M.S., applied mathematics),
senior geospatial analyst.
- Sophia Stecyk Crosier ’00 (fine art photography),
- Astrida Rideout-Merritt ’02 (imaging and photographic
technology), senior processor/trainer.
- William Justin Barrett ’05 (management information
- John Stoia ’93 (photo science), processor.
- Keith Avery ’00 (illustration), processor.
- Andrew Stewart ’06 (information technology),
- Alan Costich ’75 (business administration), data
- Chris Stanger ’02 (information technology/new
media), network administrator.
- Thomas Guhl ’79, ’81 (B.S. professional
photography and filmmaking. M.S. istructional technology),
area sales manager.
- Scott Cooper ’06 (M.B.A., marketing sales management),
- Scott Wilday ’01 (information technology), Pictometer.
- Jeff Chadwick ’01 (photo illustration),
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