My acquired knowledge benefits Cambodia

Become a high-skilled geospatial professional

Both privately and professionally, he still benefits daily from the knowledge he gained in Twente.

Text: Stan Waning, U-Today | Photo: Bormy Chanthong

Alumnus Bormy Chanthong (39) studied Geoinformatics at the ITC faculty between 2009 and 2011. The current resident of Cambodia looks back on it with fondness. Both privately and professionally, he still benefits daily from the knowledge he gained in Twente. He founded KHMER IO Innovation.

Bormy Chanthong first studied Computer Science and Engineering in Cambodia. This gave him many career options, but it was only after his master's degree in Twente he really felt anything was possible for him. 'It was then that I was able to combine my software skills with everything that Faculty ITC had to offer, ranging from Geographic Information System (GIS) to 3D modelling, drone mapping, and remote sensing. That gave me even more opportunities to pursue.’ 

Digital twin

He opted for teaching on the subject of spatial databases to students at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) in his home country. And, as a part-time job, he also supervised students on their research in the field of Geoinformatics. With his study and work experience under his belt, the alumnus founded KHMER IO Innovation. A company – based in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh – that provides solutions in the field of Earth Observation such as drone survey, 3D mapping, and satellite imagery. ‘Designing a digital twin of a physical city is a good example of what the company does’, Chanthong says. ‘The digital twin contains all buildings and its related data. This is processed and compiled into human readable information. Think of energy consumption, food consumption, traffic load, occupied verses available spaces, or even the volumes of wastes: data available for decision makers to make policies and manage those resources.’

Drone survey and drone mapping 

Starting a company was quite an adventure for Chanthong. ‘Which would never been possible to start without my time in Twente, because I needed specific knowledge about drone survey of a city, knowledge I learned in Twente. However, I left the company at the beginning of this year. I will soon be working as a technical consultant for Open Development Cambodia (ODC). That is an NGO where I will work as a database consultant involved in drone mapping, which I also learned in Twente.’

Coral survey 

Chanthong also enjoys putting his knowledge to personal use. As a scuba diver, he helped a local NGO on coral survey by using drone mapping as a  based map. In addition, he gave training and supported local government officers to use QGIS (an open source GIS software) in order to manage non-registered land. The utilisation of GIS technology proved the efficiency of land management whereby duplicate ownership or overlapping lands was always a critical problem for the local government.

‘I am happy that I could contribute to the development of my country. The knowledge and skills I have acquired at ITC will benefit Cambodia.’ Chanthong had already an opportunity to bring ITC to his home country, through a training course in 2019 of which he was the local coordinator between ITC, Thailand and Cambodia.

‘Mix with the whole UT’

Besides the fact that Chanthong is very enthusiastic about the knowledge he was offered in Twente, he also liked living in a completely different world. 'What I like about the Netherlands was the urban planning. The division of green, the urban and commercial part.’ And, last but not least, Chanthong has an advise for future ITC students. ‘Do not only talk to people within the ITC faculty, but mix with the whole university. That is the big difference between UT and universities in Cambodia. Here, all universities do their own thing. At the UT, everything, studies and faculties, has coherence. That has brought me a lot.’