How is Guangzhou-based South Group Dealing with the Coronavirus Crisis? - 08/04/2020


The coronavirus outbreak is affecting millions of people across the globe. It is also having an increasing impact on the geospatial industry. In this Q&A, we zoom in on the situation in China. What are the implications for a leading manufacturer of geospatial surveying solutions such as South? We touched base and spoke to Jackie Cheung, senior product manager at the Guangzhou-based company.

What is your business continuity plan to overcome the challenges of coronavirus?

As the virus currently prevents us from gathering in big numbers and travelling as before, it is affecting routine business communication. Therefore, we need to keep the market warm and stay in touch with clients and colleagues using other techniques. Web presentations may help a great deal in bridging the gaps between manufacturers and users, as commercial activities are slowing down right now. The recent New Survey Methodologies Global Live Show, organized by South Group from 17-31 March, is a typical event from China’s geospatial community. Various experts and specialists have been invited to talk about the new technologies and developments in the industry, such as 3D kinematic data acquisition and applications with multiple sensors, Beidou ground-based augmentation system (GBAS) operation and decryption, the first China-made SmartStation model Navi Station, a case study of UAV-based Lidar field-to-office survey, etc. The coronavirus crisis will be behind us one day, so we’d better stay connected and informed. Online information delivery is an ideal solution to hook up with fellow professionals. In fact, most people are pleased to be updated via different resources and channels as a solution during this epidemic.

How is the coronavirus outbreak impacting your business?

As everyone knows, the year’s success always depends on a good start, but the first period of 2020 has been a disaster for us. Mr Ma Chao, managing director of South Group, stated that “China’s survey market might suffer a 20%-30% decrease this year. In particular, surveying is a very specialized sector and it features seasonal operation because quite a number of new equipment procurements and project implementations would come shortly after the Lunar Chinese New Year. However, the unexpected coronavirus outbreak has totally destroyed all such plans.” Covid-19 caused a three-month depression in economic activities and social interaction here. The delay in reopening government offices and scaling up labour forces again will inevitably result in slower progress in the key infrastructural developments and other businesses. When we look at the world stage, things could be set to get worse. Cargo transportation is facing considerable difficulties as many airline and shipping operations have been forced to scale down or even stop. The virus has affected us not just physically but also mentally because lots of businesses are now pessimistic about their future. However, we firmly believe that the Chinese government will spare no effort in introducing a series of effective measures to boost the economy and support the people – just as we showed the world what China Power, China Speed and China Efficiency meant during the peak of the epidemic here.

What is your message to the geospatial industry now that coronavirus has brought the world to a standstill? 

When China was in deep trouble with the epidemic, many countries provided their kind assistance and great support to us. Whether big or small, all contributions were appreciated. Now it’s time for China to do something in return, and our government is doing a good job in helping all those friends in need. The human community should be united and fight against the virus together. Sooner or later, this disaster will end. The only question is when, and nobody knows that right now. What we can do is think more closely about our future. More sincerity, more understanding, more aid and more cooperation would be highly preferred. In my opinion, the practitioners in our industry are actually heroes of their own countries, as geospatial data and geographic information are the foundations of many other industries. The faster we can recover and react in practice, the more other businesses can benefit, because manufacturing, trade, logistics and a lot more industries rely on infrastructure and facilities. Therefore, highly cost-effective solutions in survey and mapping have a big potential role to play in the speedy recovery. The world might be at a standstill right now, but our brainstorming never stops.

Jackie Cheung is a senior product manager who has been working on sales and service of major survey equipment for nearly 20 years. In his position, he is committed to R&D and the industrial application of new survey methodologies. A number of survey services utilizing mobile laser scanning and drone mapping are contributing to field-proven solutions at home and abroad.

Last updated: 28/08/2020