How to Outsource LIDAR Annotation

How to Outsource LIDAR Annotation

Before we discuss LIDAR annotation, let us spend a few minutes understanding LIDAR.

LIDAR is an acronym for Light Detection and Ranging.

Light Detection and Ranging is a remote sensing and surveying technology that emits a pulsed laser that travels to an object and back to the emission point, creating a three-dimensional image as a set of dots or points based on the time taken for the light to travel as well as the angle of the reflection.

Though the future cannot be seen, LIDAR has already proved invaluable in many applications and is expected to become an even more integral contributor to the automation we will experience in our daily lives in the days to come.

Some of the present-day applications:

Augmented Reality – LIDAR enables 3D mapping, enabling other systems to create data based on the high-resolution map created. Enhances the AR experience.

Surveys – Compared to traditional surveys done manually, LIDAR surveys can be done rapidly and much more accurately. Think construction of a building. Think town planning.

Environment and Conservation – LIDAR provides aerial 3D views of the Earth’s surface based on which scientists can estimate land-use patterns and change over a period of time to estimate, for instance, deforestation.

Archaeology – Again, a logical application for LIDAR. It helps in reconstruction of models without having to assemble them piece by piece and also running the risk of damaging artefacts. LIDAR does it faster and with great accuracy.

Autonomous Vehicles – Everyone’s favorite AI example, also depends on LIDAR for creation of high-resolution images based on which the vehicle identifies objects and navigates its way around them. If you see a camera mounted on an autonomous vehicle, you are probably witnessing LIDAR at work.

So, where does LIDAR annotation come into the picture?

What LIDAR annotation does is to assign meaning to the 3D images created with the help of LIDAR technology in a language that can be understood by a software program through its ‘computer vision.’

LIDAR annotation outsourcing identify objects in the ‘point cloud’ created by LIDAR and annotate it based on the requirement of the project, using one of the several annotation techniques available, like Bounding Boxes (or Bounding Cuboids since we are dealing with a 3D image), Semantic Segmentation or Polygons.

Benefits you should expect when you outsource LIDAR annotation

Outsourcing LIDAR annotation  is now a well-accepted practice. That being said, as an outsourcer, you must be conscious of the benefits such an arrangement could deliver to your business, so that you specifically evaluate potential partners on the basis of those expectations.

What do we need to look for when we look for a partner to outsource LIDAR annotation to for our business?

Modern and relevant Tools and Technologies are deployed

The data generated by LIDAR is voluminous. For example, taking the oft-quoted example of an autonomous vehicle, if we decide that a minimum of a thousand kilometers worth of training data is required to train our model so that it becomes independent, it means that the set of frames that correspond to the journey will run into millions. And each frame will need multiple annotations. Human annotation of this data could take months and years and even decades, perhaps obviating its need by the time it gets completed. Besides, there will be the cost of continuing human effort.

The annotation of LIDAR data, hence needs to be done through tools and technologies that are getting increasingly accurate and sophisticated. When you outsource LIDAR annotation, the partner that seeks to do this work for you should be able to demonstrate access to such tools and technologies.

oWorkers has forged a slew of partnerships with providers of the best tools for LIDAR annotation outsourcing. This enables us to deploy these tools for your projects so that you get the benefit of the latest in technology. 85% of our clients being technology companies not only makes this possible but also ensures we use the relevant and current technologies.

High level of quality and accuracy should be delivered

Impact as they do on the models that are being built to train machines to be smart and independent, when you outsource LIDAR annotation, the quality of work produced is of great importance. If the work done is of shoddy quality, the AI engine that gets built will be ineffective, making the entire exercise meaningless. If it needs LIDAR annotation, it needs good LIDAR annotation should be the motto. Deploying modern tools and technologies should not only make it faster, but also produce better quality and consistency.

oWorkers has referenceable clients willing to testify to our delivery capability. We also have an embedded Quality Analysis (QA) and Quality Control (QC) process, that is independent of delivery so that their accountability is not compromised. They keep the delivery teams honest and provide regular input to top management on team performance.

Responsiveness and quick turnaround in delivery

Outsourcing to vendors halfway around the globe has made the benefits of overnight processing a reality for many organisations. Work is sent to the outsourcer at the end of the business day when the outsourcer, halfway around the world, is just beginning his day. He processes the input and produces the agreed output which is sent back at the end of his day to the outsourcer, who is just starting the next day. As if, by magic, the transactions got processed while they were asleep. The same facility should be available for LIDAR annotation outsourcing.

oWorkers operates from three global locations and runs a 24×7 operation. If your business will benefit from a 24×7 turnaround, we will be happy to offer that to you. We realise it is in our interest to deliver a quick turnaround as it frees us up to do more for you.

Ability to handle processing in many languages

We know the world is getting smaller day by day. The biggest businesses are household names in the US, in Argentina, in Ethiopia, in France, in Turkey and in Malaysia. When a business takes on a vendor, it is in the expectation that the vendor will support its wide reach and coverage and not be a hindrance to it. Equally, volume and standardisation being key advantages for a large business, they would not like to either design new processes for a different geography nor go looking for a new vendor. One skill over most others that such globalisation asks for is of being multilingual, of being able to handle work and interaction in a variety of languages used around the world.

With oWorkers, what you get is an experienced LIDAR annotation outsourcing company offering multilingual managed human annotators spread across three global locations and covering over 20 of the most common languages, to train and validate your AI models with a global application, along with the willingness to learn more.

Data should be managed securely

For a business, data pertaining to its business and of its clients, holds great value. The BPO business requires business sensitive data of the client to be worked upon by the provider and its resources. For delivering LIDAR annotation outsourcing, the vendor should have a secure network and protocols for its sharing that ensure that at no stage in the process there is a possibility of any part of the data being compromised.

Operating from within the Eurozone with its strict regulations and governance, for oWorkers, compliance with the highest standards of data security are requirements, not nice-to-haves. We are GDPR compliant and ISO (27001 and 9001) certified. Our staff also sign and operate under an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) and work in monitored facilities with strict security protocols.

Physical separation of workspaces for different projects can be provided with access control.

Should be able to scale up and down with minimal notice

Business volumes are not subject to any control. And when volumes increase, no business would like them to reduce. Ups and downs in volumes have an impact on all processes in the chain, including outsourced ones. When you outsource LIDAR annotation, it should be done with the expectation that the vendor will offer the flexibility of handling the ups and downs in volume without saddling you with a bill for idle resources just to handle the peak for a short period. And the critical constraint at such times is the human resource, or people, since both hiring and training require some time and effort.

Being a contributing, respected member of the local communities where we operate from, a job with oWorkers is a prized achievement for many people. This gives oWorkers a steady inflow of interested job seekers that provides the flexibility of hiring more or less numbers based on requirements. We are able to commit to hiring upto 100 resources within 48 hours.

Low attrition levels and global people practices

Attrition has been a bugbear for many a BPO around the world. While all attrition has an impact on the business, some, like LIDAR annotation outsourcing, more than others, since the knowledge and skill enhancement curve could be longer and not only might you could be losing a bigger investment it will also take that much longer for another resource to be taken through the curve and brought up to speed. Therefore, a partner that has a good track record in managing attrition should be given preference.

Generally speaking, attrition levels can be correlated with the employment practices followed by the organisation; the more fair and equitable the practices, the lower the attrition.

oWorkers has been an outperformer on attrition in its peer group. As a strategic decision, we choose to work with employees, not contractors and freelancers. This gives us an edge not only in managing attrition, for the client as well, this provides us greater flexibility in assigning people to roles. Our staff consistently rate us highly on Glassdoor with a rating in excess of 4.6 on a scale of 5. We have been early adopters of the ‘work from home’ practice.

Disciplined project management and transition processes

While flexibility is admirable, discipline is called for in many business situations, LIDAR annotation outsourcing being no different. The beginning of a relationship, or of a new project for an existing client, is one such time. Business processes keep getting refined over a period of time, with many nuances not being documented and often relying on individuals, much against the principles of being process-driven and standardization. This can crystallize into a problem when transition of the work is done from client to vendor. Micro processes can slip through the cracks leaving the business open to inefficiency and cost, or even damages. A strong Project Management discipline responsible for picking up the threads from the client side and transitioning it over to the vendor side, is a critical component of a successful outsourcing.

With hundreds of successfully executed transitions under its belt, the oWorkers Project Management approach to each client engagement ensures that there is a key person available to you at all times, who will own and implement tasks that are communicated and agreed, even after the initial transition has been completed.

The organisation should be financially sound and regulatorily above board

The eventual objective of all businesses being to earn profits, an unstable financial position can often trigger financial adventures that have the potential to create challenges for clients and their projects, as the company could seek to cut corners in pursuit of profits. Even worse, it could suddenly cease operations, bringing work, including LIDAR annotation outsourcing, to a standstill. Hence it is important to establish that the company has financials that are sound and don’t create the risk for embarking on such misadventures. In fact, a financial evaluation should be done at least on an annual basis.

Similarly, it should be ensured that the company is in compliance with other laws of the land pertaining to taxation, registration, employment, etc.

oWorkers is a locally registered business in all its delivery locations. It has been a consistently profitable enterprise and pays local taxes as it operates as a locally registered entity in all its geographies.

Should offer a competitive price

Saving the best for the last, pricing is an integral part of any commercial arrangement, and the same applies when you outsource LIDAR annotation. The reason this section has been kept for the last is that it can overshadow other, equally or more important criteria, since pricing is a specific number, while other considerations are more subjective in nature and can often be debated and questioned. A B2B engagement is normally a custom arrangement where the price is also agreed based on the specific need of the buyer of the service. The outsourcer needs to guard against being ‘penny wise pound foolish.’

oWorkers offers transparent pricing, often allowing clients the choice between a rate per unit of time and a rate per unit of output. Choose any! Many of our clients have reported savings of up to 80% when compared with their pre-outsourcing cost.  

Suggested Next Steps

When you outsource LIDAR annotation to oWorkers, you will empower us to bring positive social and economic change by promoting employment in underserved communities.

As a pure player, we specialise in Data and Content services with multilingual capability. We have been ranked as one of the top three data entry companies in the world.

We hope you will select us for your work, as have many companies specialized in dematerialization, aggregators, market places, e-merchants, e-travel players, AI (artificial intelligence) companies, online media, gaming apps, social media websites, video production companies, universities, accounting firms, among others.

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