Prestigious award for drone and 3D mapping

Cutting edge: Daniel Maher with his award.

A Portumna man has landed a hugely prestigious international award for his work which combines drone technology and 3D mapping to preserving sites of major archaeological importance.

Daniel Maher, a 33-year-old Glasgow School of Art graduate, took the Deutsche Bank Creative Enterprise Award for Craft and Design – beating off competition from universities across the UK to win a £10,000 investment and a year-long programme of business mentoring.

He won the unanimous support of the competition’s five judges with his business plan for Equinox Digital – a company that uses a combination of drone technology and 3D mapping in the hope of preserving sites of archaeological importance.

Daniel, who has been interested in heritage since he was a child, said he was “absolutely chuffed” to have his idea validated.

“It took a lot of hard work, through a couple of fairly tough months, but it has really paid off,” said Daniel. “The funds and the mentorship will go a long way to ensuring that we can launch Equinox Digital in the very near future.”

Daniel explained that his interest in monitoring, mapping and creating 3D models of these sites was piqued in 2014 when images of the destruction of important heritage sites in Iraq and Syria rebounded around the world.

“At the same time, in 2014, we had really severe storms hitting the West of Ireland which not only destroyed, but also uncovered archaeological sites in places like Furbo and Connemara,” he said.

A combination of both these events gave Daniel the idea for Equinox Digital – a way to bring these sites to life in 3D models and to present them to people in a more accessible way.

“I wanted to re-examine the way in which society interacts with its heritage – one way of doing this is to project cultural heritage sites onto the sides of ordinary buildings,” said Daniel. “I wanted to show people that this stuff is not just for the museums.”

Daniel is currently in Malta, working in architecture with a company based on the Mediterranean island – but he feels that the time has come for him to ‘go it alone’.

“I’ll probably finish up here in the next couple of months,” he said. “I’m working in architecture down here – it is related, but I want to do something a bit different.”

Daniel regularly returns home to visit his parents in Portumna and is hoping to make the move more permanent when he finishes up in Malta.

The wheels are well and truly in motion for Equinox Digital and the investment from Deutsche Bank has already been used by Daniel to purchase the equipment he needs to get up and running.

“The funding I got has been absolutely crucial – without it, I wouldn’t be able to buy the equipment – we haven’t got that yet but it has been ordered.

“We’re just getting a decent website up and running and we hope to get as much work as possible going around Ireland.

“It’s going well – it’s slow and steady, but it’s something different,” said Daniel.