Thanks to a flood of satellite data and the rise of artificial intelligence tools, the market for location intelligence services is growing — and one of the pioneers in the field is changing its name from Critigen to Locana to reflect that growth.
“What happened was, we had such a successful year with all these new businesses, and we saw this move in the marketplace, and that inspired us to chart out a new vision,” Locana CEO Jeff Haight told GeekWire. “Actually, changing the name of the company was the very last step in this process.”
Locana is officially headquartered in Denver, but Haight and much of his executive team are based in Seattle.
About 50 of Locana’s hundreds of employees live in the Seattle area, with the region’s main office in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. The company third major office is in London, but the workforce is distributed far wider than those three offices.
“We have a lot of clients in the Northeast, so we’ve got a large crew in Boston,” Haight said. In fact, Haight’s favorite explanation of what Locana does draws on the Northeast U.S. market.
“When my kids ask me, ‘Hey, Dad, what is it that you do?’ I tell ’em that we help New York track their snowplows,” he said.
That’s not all: “We help nonprofits around the world see their operations, where they have impact and where they have programs,” he said. “We are helping improve navigation maps on six continents. So it’s really an exciting time to be in this space.”
Haight’s company traces its corporate roots back more than 20 years. It became known as Critigen in 2009 when it was spun off from CH2M Hill to become a privately held consultancy.
The company’s new name comes from the Latin word “locus” (that is, location) plus the suffix “-ana” (denoting a collection of something, as in “Disneyana“). The executive team decided that “Locana” captured the company’s mission of collecting and analyzing location data to guide clients’ business decisions.
Location intelligence is playing a key role in addressing challenges ranging from the complexities associated with 5G and other new technologies to the impacts of climate change.
“We’re working with several different companies in sub-Saharan Africa to help them implement solar energy there,” said Todd Slind, Locana’s vice president of technology. “We’re figuring out where there are clusters of economic feasibility, where they can go in and install solar panels and have some sort of long-term rate of return.”
That task might call for analyzing population density, readings for solar exposure, structural assessments and other data points.
High-resolution satellite data and precise mapping data are essential ingredients. So is artificial intelligence. For example, one of Locana’s offerings involves creating a “digital twin” of an enterprise’s far-flung assets to make it easier to track logistics and service schedules.
Locana isn’t the only geospatial intelligence company with a Pacific Northwest presence: BlackSky, which has offices in Seattle as well as Herndon, Va., is building a constellation of satellites to feed into its own AI-based analytical platform.
But Haight suggested that there’s plenty of business to go around. “We grew our sales 70% in one year. We grew our team size as a company by 40%, and we’re looking to do that again in 2022,” he said.
He expects Locana’s Seattle operation to help keep the trend moving upward.
“What bonds us together is a belief that maps and location intelligence can help solve our greatest infrastructure, sustainability, social, environmental and health challenges,” he said. “We’re really excited to see that dream start to become reality.”