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Colorado company aids Thai soccer team rescue
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By James Mejía
It is not uncommon for a coach to take a team on a field trip to foster teamwork, practice leadership skills, and build morale. One such trip went terribly wrong in late June as an entire Thai youth soccer team and their coach were trapped in a flooded mine. Over the course of three weeks, 12 young men aged 11-16 and their 25-year-old coach were trapped without food and access only to drinking water dripping off the side of the cave.

In miraculous fashion, the team was spirited to safety after being tranquilized with ketamine and escorted under water in some sections as long as three football fields. Several countries cooperated in the rescue which included 90 divers, the majority from outside Thailand. During the rescue, one member of the Thai special forces Navy team drown trying to deliver additional dive tanks to the team. The death count could have been much higher were it not for the work of a Colorado company that helped the government of Thailand map the flooded cave system and find the best way out.

On June 27th, Douglas County headquartered Intermap Technologies shared its technology known as NextMap One with the Thai Department of National Parks. Intermap released a statement online explaining their procedure, “This high resolution elevation data was supplied within three hours, and used in conjunction with other sensors to identify elevation coordinates, prioritize potential drilling points, identify drainage paths, provide a detailed and inter-active 3D model of the area, and determine alternate routes into the caves to help rescue the boys.”

In another statement, Chairman and CEO Patrick Blott noted that Intermap’s technology creates some of the best digital mapping in the world. Blott explained that NEXTMap One was provided for free to the Thai government and was helpful because it, “is substantially more detailed than the existing elevation data available from commercial and government sources… governments around the world rely on us and this is the evidence. In a special situation, Intermap in Denver got the call.”

After supplying mapping technology, Intermap took to digital media to publicize progress. One Tweet read, “Intermap Technology’s NEXTMap One ™ Elevation Data Provided to Thai Officials in Support of Search and Rescue Efforts. See links below for news…” Another corporate post quoted Blott, “We’d like to congratulate the international rescue operation, the Thai Navy SEALs and the emergency responders in Thailand on their success in locating the boys. We hope that our data and modeling efforts will help bring a fast resolution to this crisis without further loss of life. We are happy to be playing a role and using our analytics to help local university staff craft useful solutions in supporting the rescue efforts and wish for a speedy rescue and the group to return to friends and family as soon as possible.”

After the rescue, another company Tweet praised those involved, “Congratulations to the brilliantly talented Thais and to all the families that got their boys home as a result of the determined rescue efforts.”

Besides mapping data and technology, Intermap also offers risk assessment for properties around the world. According to their web site, through their InsitePro technology they are, “Providing fast, address-specific flood and fire risk information for any commercial or residential property.”

In a second quarter financial report, the company reported $45 million in revenue, a new patent for flood control modeling called Flood Scope, and a new milestone of 20 government clients from around the world for their mapping technology. This second quarter report is a huge gain from their first quarter financials which recorded revenue of $3.4 million. As a demonstration of the company’s exponential growth, the first quarter report was a 32 percent increase from the same period last year.

Earlier this year, the company reported 2017 revenue as just under $20 million compared to $7 million in 2016. That growth marks an increase of 174 percent in just one year. With the publicity brought to the company after supplying the government of Thailand their technology for free, this kind of corporate growth is projected to continue well into the future. In addition, in 2017 the company contracted with California governments for wildfire risk analytics. With an increasing number of wildfires in the western United States and throughout the world, this new branch of business is projected to grow substantially.

Tham Luang Nang Non, or The Great Cave of the Sleeping Lady is a tourist attraction in the Chiang Rai province in northern Thailand near the border with Myanmar. Major parts of the cave were not discovered until the late 1980s and some surveys have been done as recently as this decade. The cave system is over 6 miles in length with numerous paths containing a natural river and various caverns. The depth of the cave system is 280 feet at an elevation of 1,463 feet. The cave is geologically classified as ‘karstic’, known for soluble rocks, drainage tunnels and caves. Access to the cave system is seasonal between November and June and is well known for being subject to flooding from the monsoon season the rest of the year. The soccer team was trapped in the cave because of monsoon rains the last week of June.

The Thai soccer team mascot is the Wild Boars, an animal native to southeastern Asia with a reputation for being scrappy and tenacious. The team was recognized for displaying these qualities during their harrowing rescue which caught global attention. They are now known worldwide, not as much for playing soccer but for their gracious reaction to being saved. For a week, the soccer team had to be quarantined in order to bolster weakened immune systems. Then, in a ceremony to honor Lieutenant Commander Saman Kunan, the Navy diver who died during their rescue, 11 of the 12 boys became novice Buddhist monks. The 12th is a Christian who made his own act of thanks at the church he attends with his family.

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