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Founder Story: How Can Gado Images Help Architects And Developers?

When Johns Hopkins University needed someone to annotate and structure the records of the historic Roland Park Co, the developer of one of the first planned communities in the United States, it turned to Walnut Creek-based Gado Images.


Gado’s Thomas Smith (above) immediately recognized the potential this rich data source held for those involved in real estate. “This digital archive is useful to the City of Baltimore for planning purposes, as they reveal which features of each building are original, and which are later additions,” he tells us.

The company’s proprietary cognitive metadata platform features a variety of tools, including facial recognition and digital character recognition that can convert written material into easily searchable text on a computer.


Gado confronted an incredible challenge. The Roland Park Co was a meticulous developer, recording everything “from acquiring land, challenging zoning and laying out streets to selecting drain pipes, marketing properties and maintaining the finished neighborhoods,” Johns Hopkins reported. The hundreds of photographs from the collection were uncategorized and made any search process manual and cumbersome.

Thomas and JHU librarians and students worked alongside the software to systematically analyze and structure the data. “We worked to generate caption and keyword information for each photograph, using a distributed team and our Cognitive Metadata Platform. This allows the photos to be searched for specific architectural features, locations, etc., making them much more useful to planners and researchers,” says Gado co-founder Amy Smith (who is married to Thomas).  

Gado’s services are likely to be in demand as more communities are interested in preserving the character of their neighborhoods and require any new construction to conform to the established style of a district. “The photographs are useful to modern developers who want to research the architectural history of the neighborhood,” she notes.

The company now is expanding into other fields. “One new field we're moving into is virtual reality. We're starting to create 360-degree images, 3D video and other VR content,” Thomas says. “Using 3D modeling and a VR headset, developers could even stand inside a virtual version of a new property before it was built, to check sight lines, inspect their designs, or even demonstrate a new design to a client.”

Related Topics: Gado Images