Training and professionalism come to the fore as Iprosurv hires former CAA drone sector lead

Training and professionalism come to the fore as Iprosurv hires former CAA drone sector lead

Andrew Hamilton, former Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) sector lead for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), has joined one of the UK’s leading drone services providers, Iprosurv as Training and Development Director.

Ongoing Training and Mentoring

In his new role, Hamilton will be responsible for providing practical and theoretical training in the use of commercial drones to members of Pilot Partnerships, Iprosurv’s growing drone pilot network.

With nearly a decade’s experience in commercial drone flight, Hamilton brings a huge amount of training experience to Iprosurv having set up the UK’s first dedicated police drone unit with Devon and Cornwall Constabulary and having acted as lead instructor for a Recognised Assessment Entity on behalf of the CAA.

As all Iprosurv pilots are fully trained and licensed, Hamilton’s role will focus on providing ongoing training and mentoring in new technology and deployment techniques, education on developing regulation and providing practical training for new pilots.

Pilot Partners Highest Industry Standards

Commenting on the appointment, Rebecca Jones, CEO and co-founder of Iprosurv, said: “Andy brings a huge amount of personal flight experience and, most importantly, in training other pilots so we are delighted to have him on board.

“Iprosurv has always had a clear mission to hold ourselves and our pilots to the highest professional and technical standards and with Andy joining us, we can take that to the next level.”

While Hamilton will start work with members of Pilot Partnerships with immediate effect, he has begun the approval process of securing CAA approved training entity status for Iprosurv.

“After gaining your CAA Operational Authorisation, technically, a pilot is eligible to operate a drone in a very congested area like central London,” said Hamilton.

“The standards set by the CAA are high but the opportunity to gain the skills and experience after qualification is missing at the moment and that is the gap I hope to help Iprosurv fill. In much the same way that the Pass Plus is often used by new drivers, we want to introduce the Pass Plus for drone flight.

Training Consistency

“There are many thousands of commercial drone pilots operating in the UK but there is still a huge variation in quality and flight experience. We have to tackle that lack of consistency if we are going to earn the necessary trust of the public and the private sectors.”

Pilot Partnerships was set up earlier this year to provide a professional home for the thousands of independent pilots across the country, delivering consistent training and flight management processes and embedding strong professional standards.

“We are just one of many commercial drone providers in the UK, but what makes Iprosurv pilots stand out is the level of experience they have and the rigorous and continuous training they undertake,” said Jones.

“With Andy joining us, our pilots now have access to one of the most experienced individuals in the market in training and development and we look forward to introducing his expertise to more and more pilots across the country.”

Contact

For further information, contact martin.friel@iprosurv.com

About Iprosurv

Established in 2014, Iprosurv is a pioneer in the provision of drone technology in the insurance industry and beyond. Its current network of pilots, covering the entirety of the UK, use a proprietary system to record, store and deliver drone data to clients in a fast and secure manner. From building surveys to flood response to assisting emergency services, Iprosurv continues to push the boundaries of how drones can be used in business.

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Drones Mitigate Damage to Land and Properties During Extreme Weather.

Dr Monica Rivas Casaldo, senior lecturer in Integrated Environmental Monitoring at Cranfield University, discusses how Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can quickly capture data on urban flooding to give an accurate picture of property damage – meaning interventions to limit damage can be made immediately.

The average annual cost of flood damage to property in England is more than £1bn and rising. One in six properties are at risk, and the average cost of the repairs for each property ranges between £10,000 and £50,000.

It’s a cycle of threats, misery and repairs that’s exacerbated by the time involved in assessing costs for insurance claims. Residential and commercial property owners are advised not to undertake any clearing up activity until the damage has been assessed by the insurance company, which is time-consuming and costly to undertake. There can be substantial further costs if any dwellings become uninhabitable and the residents have to move into alternative accommodation.

Flooding North Yorkshire Hebden Bridge 2020

There needs to be detailed understanding of the likelihood of flooding, its likely magnitude and impact in order for there to be the most reliable and effective insurance provision available, with appropriate premiums, excess and loss adjustment. Costs for property owners can be mitigated by adopting different measures, such as resilience and resistance measures (flood guards, hard floor surfaces and waterproof plaster etc) and by making use of insurance products that spread the risk and ensure coverage to as many properties as possible. These will typically cost in the range of £3000 to £10,000 but can significantly reduce the impact of flooding.

Current flood damage assessment

Current flood damage assessment by the insurance industry following an event relies on a combination of door-to-door inspections and remote sensing techniques. Many Canadian insurers, for example, use satellite imagery pre- and post-event to assess risk exposure, estimate the number of claims in an area and assess the need for loss adjusters. Similarly, Swiss Re relies on CatNet, a software system that overlays satellite images onto Google maps enabling an assessment of the extent of the flooded area to be made and to determine where claims will arise. But there are a number of factors that limit the effectiveness of remote sensing methods: spatio-temporal coverage may not be available for the required zone and period; optical imagery cannot provide information if there is low cloud cover; satellite data that can penetrate cloud cover has an oblique viewing angle which makes it difficult to discriminate water from other urban features. Also, current remote sensing approaches don’t provide enough detail to assess the effects of micro-topography in streets and the presence of property flood resistance measures.

New UAV Studies

New results from a study of the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to capture data on urban flooding has demonstrated their potential as a more effective alternative. UAV aerial imagery offers both timely (on-demand) and increasingly detailed (higher resolution) information than comparable satellite or aircraft imagery. UAVs can also be deployed to assist in the response to flooding in conditions and areas that are not accessible by manned aircraft or helicopters. In the last five years, the use of UAV technology has increased exponentially with a varied range of commercial platforms (rotary blade, fixed wing, and nano and hybrid drones) and sensors. An estimated 600 UAVs were used globally in 2015 by police, firefighters, humanitarian relief, and disaster management, with the number being used doubling on a yearly basis.

Initial research

Initial research was carried out at the time of the major Cockermouth flooding at the end of 2015. As a result of storm Desmond, a total of 466 properties were flooded due to flood risk management structures being overtopped and outflanked. The event was a consequence of heavy rainfall over an extended period with more than 300 mm of rain falling over a 24 hour period, which translated into flows in the Derwent River of 395 m3 s−1 at the Ouse Bridge gauging station and 170 m3 s−1 at the Cocker Southwaite River gauging station. The estimated annual exceedance probability for the observed event was less than 1% for both rainfall and river flows.

Fixed Wing Drones

A fixed wing platform UAV was selected for the survey to maximise area coverage under the rainy and gusty conditions. The Sirius-Pro platform had a 163 cm wingspan and a length of 120 cm, able to fly for up to 50 minutes, and equipped with a16 megapixel Panasonic GX-1 on-board camera. Images were used to identify the flood impact and extent, with each point being assigned a confidence level (high, medium, or low) describing the uncertainty associated with its impact classification and the potential for the impact to have been generated from any other source rather than flood. The raw UAV high-resolution imagery was used to reduce the level of uncertainty when possible. The resulting flood impact point database was used to identify residential property that could have been flooded during Desmond.

The direct tangible losses (domestic clean-up, household inventory damage, and building fabric damage) for the affected properties were calculated using a UK specific methodology. The losses (without VAT or other indirect taxes) for a residential property of a given type and age (for example, pre-1919 detached, 1975–1985 semi-detached, and 1919–1944 flat) were estimated based on the flood water depth within the property. Residential properties with directly observable resistance measures (i.e., flood aperture guards for doors and windows, flood resistant airbricks, and raised doors or steps leading to a property) were also taken into account, alongside the type of flooding (overbank topping, pluvial run-off, and groundwater) affecting the property.

Results

The results from the UAV analysis were compared with those from the classic door-to-door approach (assumed to deliver 100% accuracy). The UAV framework was found to provide an accuracy in the detection of flooded properties of 84%. The results also highlighted the importance of considering all sources of flooding even when an event is largely thought to be fluvial in nature. It is important in the initial evaluation of an event to consider flooding from all sources not just from the overtopping of flood risk management structures. There were significant levels of pluvial and lateral flow flooding, with a total of £3.6 million in direct tangible losses assigned to 168 properties outside the fluvial flood extent. This comprises 36% of the total direct tangible losses associated with all sources of flooding in Cockermouth during this event. These properties were not initially identified as being flooded as the initial responses focused on the fluvial flood extent. Resistance measures present within the area resulted in a considerable reduction in direct tangible losses (£4 million). The work presented here also highlighted the importance in selecting accurate remote sensing loss-adjustment approaches, with a discrepancy in direct tangible losses between the two approaches tested of around £1 million.

The UAV approach will facilitate a better and faster estimation of the extent and impact of a flooding event, a more rapid evaluation of the affected area and the associated damage costs, also enabling loss adjusters to prioritise their individual household impact assessments. What’s needed now is further development of the system to allow for a more automated process and near-real-time data.

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The only perspective is the customer perspective.

One of the industry’s most enthusiastic early adopters of drone technology, Zurich Insurance saw that drones can get places humans can’t and get there quicker too.

Zurich’s UK Chief Claims Officer, David Nichols

So, when Zurich’s UK Chief Claims Officer, David Nichols had a personal roof damage claim, he was keen to see if drones delivered what he thought they did.

And here he gives us some insight from a unique perspective – a claims director experiencing the claims service firsthand.

Delivering a top notch service

As a claims director, you want to be pretty confident that your teams are delivering a top notch service and that the customer experience is always excellent but there is no greater test of your service than being ‘fortunate’ enough to experience claims services yourself.  I have to say that everything was what I hoped it would be!

Anyway, the claim went smoothly but the bit I was particularly interested in experiencing was some new technology we have introduced to our claims service – drones.

Smoothing out the claims process

We started using them because we thought it sounded like a great idea. Of course, the decision-making was more detailed than that but in essence, we have been looking for everything and anything that can speed up and smooth out the claims process for customers and drones seemed to be a simple, cost-effective way of doing that.

The obvious, immediate use is in claims where we can’t access the site such as in major floods or fires. Drones provide immediate access, but they also provide detailed imagery, measurements and a host of other data, putting our claims teams on the front foot.

It speeds up our processes and brings the customer closer to a clear decision, either way, in hours rather than weeks.

Iprosurv media viewing page for customers and clients

But there is an added benefit to using drones – customer engagement. The ability to share images of the damage with a customer and being able to explain next steps immediately provides reassurance and we are able to bring the customer into the claims conversation in a way we haven’t been able to before. Images provide the immediate truth of a situation. 

But there is an added benefit to using drones – customer engagement. The ability to share images of the damage with a customer and being able to explain next steps immediately provides reassurance and we are able to bring the customer into the claims conversation in a way we haven’t been able to before. Images provide the immediate truth of a situation. 

More than that, this approach can also bring the customer’s knowledge of their business or property into play to help us allocate resources in the most effective way. For example, we had a factory fire earlier this year. By using the images captured by the drone, the client was able to indicate to us the location of their machinery, what parts of the operation were critical and what parts could wait. This allowed us to shape our response in a more informed and targeted way.

Personal experience

All of this makes using drones in claims a bit of a no-brainer for me. The clincher was when I experienced it for myself through a personal claim. My roof was damaged in the storms this year and obviously the extent of the damage had to be understood before the claim could go any further.

A drone was deployed within days of registering the claim. Within an hour of the drone being on site, I was shown imagery of the damage by the drone operator who then explained the next steps to me.

I did not have to wait for scaffolding to be set up or a cherry picker to be deployed. I was also brought into the conversation surrounding my claim at the earliest stage. It was fast, completely unobtrusive and I felt included in the process. Exactly the kind of experience I hoped drones would bring to our customers.

Only scratching the surface

This is only scratching the surface though. Drones capture a huge amount of detailed data and I see no reason why this can’t be deployed more widely such as with the building estimation tools that we all use. Any process that can be automated to create a better customer experience has to be embraced.

And why stop at claims? There are obvious applications in a broad range of services, and we will continue to explore these. Imagine a process where we have the detailed drone data at policy inception stage and detailed drone data at the claim stage? Those data sets can ‘speak’ to each other, giving greater clarity, faster decision making and greater levels of transparency for all parties.

The tools are there – where next?

We can do that. The tools are there. As individual firms and as an industry, we just need to have the foresight and the confidence to use them to their full extent. What started as a “why not?” at Zurich is now a “where next?”.

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Iprosurv “Pilot Partners” now adding new professional drone pilots.

Iprosurv, one of the UK’s leading commercial drone providers, has today launched Pilot Partnerships, an ambitious new proposition to bring together the nation’s independent operators and drive greater levels of professionalism across the sector.

Co Operative Approach

Billed as a co-operative for commercial drone pilots, Pilot Partnerships aims to bring together the huge number of independent operators to provide mutual support, share best practice and work together to drive greater levels of professionalism and public trust in the sector.

Using Iprosurv’s proprietary software platform, members of Pilot Partnerships will have access to case management and flight planning software, data security, safety and environmental compliance support, tailored training, bespoke websites and a host of marketing and client prospecting support.

Commenting on the new initiative, Rebecca Jones, CEO and co-founder of Iprosurv, said: “The commercial drone industry is growing fast as more and more businesses look to new technology to solve old problems.

Fragmented Market

“But the commercial drone market is fragmented and made up of sole traders and micro-SMEs and the introduction of new regulations has made life tough for many. If we are to become the mature, professional industry that more and more sectors expect us to be, we have to come together, work together and grow together to create that.”

Iprosurv has a well-established network of drone pilots and has made a significant investment in ensuring that Iprosurv and its partners have the latest, safest technology available to help establish drones as a permanent feature of doing business.

Professional Operators

“We have huge ambitions for our sector, but we know we can’t do it on our own and we don’t think the hundreds of independent, professional operators we want to work with across the country can do it on their own either,” said Jones.

“Which is why we have set up Pilot Partnerships. We hope that, in time and with the right partners, Pilot Partnerships will become the gold standard in the industry and a guarantee of quality and professionalism to clients of all shapes and sizes.”

Mutually supporting

Pilot Partnerships is the first mutually supportive, network proposition in the commercial drone sector in the UK. The target profile for potential members is sole operators and organisations that have a specific sector or technical expertise.

“As Iprosurv, we have made great inroads into our chosen sectors but as our profile has grown, the huge potential in other markets is becoming apparent and we want to bring all our compliance, operational and customer service expertise to as many sectors as possible,” said Jones.

Partners

“We are looking to partner with drone operators who have technical and operational experience but require the support of a larger organisation to exploit the opportunities they see or sector experts who can help introduce us, and our partners, to new markets.

“Together, we can make a mark on the economy and ensure that drones have an integral role to play.”

Entry into the Pilot Partnerships community requires a small one-off fee and small percentage share of fees.

find out more about pilot partnerships

Article written by Iprosurv journalist Martin Friel:  martin.friel@iprosurv.com

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Quick, cost effective and repeatable – drone inspections in your workflow

For what started out as a niche plaything for flight enthusiasts, the penetration of drones into the commercial world is accelerating at rapid pace.

Its not just deliveries!

It’s not just the headline-grabbing Amazon delivery proposal – it’s everything from farming, utilities and insurance to the emergency services, engineering and even acting as a temporary mobile phone mast.

But one area where they are starting to make real inroads, and where the cost effectiveness and accessibility they bring is urgent, is in construction and building, in particular, council-owned buildings.

Grenfell Tower

The anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy has just passed but the work to make tower blocks across the country safe, and avoid a repeat, is still to be completed. This is despite the fact there is a real urgency to inspect the buildings, understand the risk and map out a remediation plan for each one.

It’s not surprising that we find ourselves in this situation. It is a pretty monumental undertaking and the planning alone takes time never mind the practicalities of erecting the scaffolding at each site and getting all the necessary paperwork in place to do so.

Government commitment

The Government has committed £1.6bn to facilitate this remediation work and while that is to be welcomed, some commentators believe the final cost will be much higher.

And when public funds are at stake, it is incumbent upon those responsible for using the funds, to do so in the most cost-effective way possible. Thankfully, councils seem to be acutely aware of this and many are starting to wake up to the possibilities that drones open up for them.

Iprosurv was instructed on an 15 story high rise where the cladding is falling away from the base structure. This is creating obvious health and safety issues but as the cladding falls away, moisture creeps in threatening to compromise the integrity of the building.

To satisfy insurance requirements, the managers of the building had to undertake a thorough inspection of the property to identify and quantify the risk and put a remediation plan in place. For a multitude of reasons, time was of the essence.

Scaffolding, Scissor Lift, Top Rope, or Drones?

Getting the scaffolding up around the building to conduct a detailed inspection would have taken weeks if not months so they looked to other solutions and found Iprosurv.

We were able to secure the area, send a drone up, get detailed imagery of the damage to the façade and, using thermal imagery, pinpoint where moisture had seeped into the fabric of the building.

From this, the client was able to prioritise the remediation and pull together a plan to take to their insurer to ensure that the building could be made safe and satisfy the insurance requirements. And of equal importance, all this was made possible with zero disruption to residents in the building or the surrounding area.

1% of the cost of some traditional methods

From instruction to delivery of all the data to the client, including a high definition 3D model, took eight days and cost 1% of what it would have cost to erect the scaffolding.

While this is just one instruction on one building in one council on one insurer’s portfolio, if we were to extrapolate those time and fiscal savings across the portfolio of buildings that require inspection, the savings would be monumental.

Insurers and Councils now exploring

It is very encouraging to see more and more insurers and councils explore the possibilities of drone technology but for society at large to see the full benefit, we need to get to a position where drones are an integral, normal part of the process, whatever that may be.

Anyone directly involved in the commercial use of drones will recognise the effort it has taken to get them accepted as an integral part of business processes of all types. But increasingly, and particularly in nationwide safety projects such as the Government’s cladding remediation programme, their use starts to look like an urgent no-brainer.

For more information contact us here!!

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Iprosurv Internal 360 walkthrough technology

Iprosurv, the award-winning, national drone solution is adding Matterport operators to its supply chain. But what is Matterport and how can it help your business?

Matterport is the gold standard for 3D space capture. It is used to obtain accurate and entirely immersive virtual experiences. It offers so much more than panoramic scans. All viewers can investigate the site from the comfort of their own offices, without the need to travel to those specific locations. The visual reproductions are interactive without forfeiting the quality of the images. Moreover, viewers can observe the space from essentially every angle securing 360-degree viewpoint whilst investigating from a first-person perspective.

How does it help me reduce the manual tasks and difficulty of creating 3D models?

Matterport automatically processes customer scans swiftly to generate feature-packed 3D models. The dimensional precision of its models facilitates correct measurements for planning and assessing purposes. Tags can be embedded to emphasise important aspects throughout the model.

How can you benefit from using Matterport?

Matterport provides you with incredibly precise renderings of the inspection site, allows you to share the media with your colleagues and pinpoint the areas of interest, all from the comfort of your desk. You can share your model and linked assets with anyone on any device. It’s as easy as sharing a photo. You’ll be able to speed up collaboration and efficiency, as well as enlarge your customer engagement and reach. As well as residential property inspections, Matterport also covers larger commercial properties. You can rest assured that all the data of interest will be in one place, ready to be accessed at your convenience!

What can you use Matterport for?

In this case, the sky is the limit! You can use Matterport for a variety of projects. Engineering, construction, major loss and risk management and facilities management are just a few of the areas where it excels but we’re constantly pushing to discover more applications for the tech. Why not contact us and find out if Matterport is a good solution for your business!

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Drones Take on High Rise and Tower Block Inspection

In the last five years, drones have been making their presence felt across the economic landscape from agriculture and architecture to environmental monitoring and supporting the emergency services.

They have been adopted so easily in so many markets because they are a fast, cost effective and safe alternative to traditional methods of working. And they have proven themselves to be effortlessly adaptable to any natural or built environment.

Wherever drones go next, and we’re sure it will be far and wide, one of the original uses for this technology was in building inspections, a use that is more pertinent than ever in the post-Grenfell landscape.

There is a huge challenge facing the UK Government and property managers up and down the country, to inspect and survey the nation’s high-rise residential buildings to ensure they are safe, secure and fit for purpose.

It’s a daunting task but one that can be tackled quickly, effectively and at a vastly reduced cost with the support of drone technology.

Let us show you how …

THE PROBLEM

The Grenfell Tower tragedy has exposed the vulnerability of thousands of blocks of flats up and down the country. That vulnerability lies almost entirely within the use of cladding that was applied to improve heating and energy efficiency and to improve the appearance of buildings, many of which had been constructed in the 60s and 70s.

CLADDING

While the use of cladding may have delivered on those needs, the Grenfell fire showed just how dangerous the use of certain types of cladding is. Every single block of flats in the country that has been cladded has to be surveyed and inspected to understand the risk profile of each one.

Which creates a huge challenge for the Government and property managers. An estimated 1,700 high rise blocks of flats have to be surveyed and the cladding removed to make them safe to live in. And they need to do it quickly.

TRADITIONAL METHODS

The Government has pledged billions to facilitate this nationwide structural survey but the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has estimated that as large as this fund is, it will only be enough to repair a third of the properties currently considered unsafe.

The reason? A huge chunk of that cost is because the traditional method of inspecting high rise buildings is to erect scaffolding around the structure, a process that takes months to complete and costs on average £250,000 per building.

Technology-Led Methods

But there is another way, a way that is led by, facilitated and completed by drone technology. A method that could reduce the cost of inspection by a factor of 100. Sound too good to be true? It’s not, it’s reality and we are helping clients across the country bring those theoretical savings to life.

THE SOLUTION

Like anything in life, there is no quickfire solution to the UK’s high-rise living problem. But with a little creative thinking and the smart application of technology, a real difference can be made to the way we approach it.

Which is exactly what Iprosurv has been doing with our property management clients.

WHY DRONES

Put simply, drones are a faster, cheaper and safer way to conduct surveys at height but their ability to provide the necessary data digitally, in a secure fashion, means that they can deliver a high-quality result in days, rather than the months the traditional method requires.

So what does a high rise drone inspection involve?

  • Our pilot will attend the site, secure it and be airborne within an hour
  • They will conduct a full survey using RGB – Optional Thermal Technology
  • Depending on the size or complexity of the structure, the flight and gathering of all the necessary data will be completed, on average, in 1 – 6 hours
  • The data is then shared with all relevant parties via Iprosurv’s proprietary, GDPR-compliant data delivery system
  • Clients receive the data in the form of a detailed, interactive 3D model of the building which can be analysed down to 5mm per pixel.
  • All of this is delivered for an average cost of a £2,500 compared to the average £250,000 cost for the traditional scaffolding approach
  • And there is no need to involve or disturb tenants beyond informing them of the flight taking place

INSPECTING YOUR BUILDING

While the drone does the hard work, our clients still have to bring their expertise to bear in analysing the drone data and planning the next steps. And we make that as simple or detailed as necessary with the creation of our interactive, 3D models.

3D MODEL

With the 3D model, delivered directly to their desktop, Iprosurv clients can:

  • Make detailed measurements of the building
  • Gain a full 360 view of the building
  • Annotate the model and the individual images of the site to share with others, assign tasks or share insight
  • Compare condition of the building pre and post-works
  • Create risk ratings on different aspects of the building
  • Share the data with other stakeholders with the click of a button, all fully secure and compliant with GDPR regulations
  • Access our proprietary software for ordering, case tracking and case delivery
  • Make detailed measurements of the building
  • Gain a full 360 view of the building
  • Annotate the model and the individual images of the site to share with others, assign tasks or share insight
  • Compare condition of the building pre and post-works
  • Create risk ratings on different aspects of the building
  • Share the data with other stakeholders with the click of a button, all fully secure and compliant with GDPR regulations
  • Access our proprietary software for ordering, case tracking and case delivery

Click Image Below to inspect a 3D Interactive Inspection Model

This is a genuine revolution in the inspection of high-rise buildings, one that not only does the job faster, cheaper and more safely than traditional methods, it provides more granular data that can be accessed, manipulated and shared securely in real time.

“The answer to your and our nation’s high-rise problem is here, so what are you waiting for? Contact one of our advisors today to find out how you can become part of the drone revolution”.

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How drones are revolutionizing the telecom industry

From agriculture to engineering, insurance, and infrastructure, the enterprise use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, is on the rise.

PwC estimates that the total market value of drone-powered enterprise solutions will exceed $127bn, with the value of drones to communication service providers accounting for nearly $20bn.

For telecom operators, drones open the door to a range of opportunities. Due to the costs and expertise required to provide these solutions, it is not viable for individual organizations to establish their capabilities; and there lies the opportunity for telecom operators.

The benefit of drone technology is not a new concept in the telecom industry. In 2016, Etisalat won a prestigious Glomo Award at Mobile World Congress, held in Barcelona, in recognition of the “Drones 4 Good” initiative. Etisalat’s “Drones 4 Good” came first in the ‘Best Mobile Innovation for Health’ category, as it demonstrated the use of specialized drones to transport polio vaccine to remote locations.

The benefit of drone technology is not a new concept in the telecom industry. In 2016, Etisalat won a prestigious Glomo Award at Mobile World Congress, held in Barcelona, in recognition of the “Drones 4 Good” initiative. Etisalat’s “Drones 4 Good” came first in the ‘Best Mobile Innovation for Health’ category, as it demonstrated the use of specialized drones to transport polio vaccine to remote locations.

Telecoms operators are well-positioned to develop these capabilities by building on their existing strengths in connectivity, cloud, big data, and analytics, as well as capitalizing on the partnerships they already have in place to augment these capabilities.

As connectivity improves and automation increases, we can expect to see drones at the edge, completing autonomous missions, and uploading data directly to the cloud, bringing substantial business benefit to telcos and other enterprises.

Drones make it possible to perform remote engineering and network planning tasks, automate tower inspections, and enhance the measurement of wireless coverage and performance. They will help accelerate the rollout of 5G networks and enable new use cases leveraging 5G connectivity.

It appears as though the future of drones is now. And the coronavirus pandemic has certainly helped to speed up adoption and use cases for aerial fleets.

Automating inspections

The key application areas for drones in telecoms are maintenance monitoring and keeping infrastructure and installations in good condition. 

In the past, technicians had to climb to the top of towers and complete a manual count on the different installed equipment. Manual inspections are usually conducted on a limited portion of the tower, meaning that many telcos don’t have a complete record of the equipment mounted on their towers or comprehensive data on whether towers have available space to host new equipment.

As a result, these companies often find themselves without a central digital repository for processing insights – and no easy way to gain meaningful, portfolio-wide intelligence.

Automated drone inspections offer a powerful alternative. Using high-precision flight planning, automated capture, and intelligent data processing, telcos can automate the tower inspection process and use drones to autonomously survey their assets.

Drones can inspect installed equipment at the top of towers or over large areas with greater speed – lowering costs and reducing the risks to staff. The drones can take pictures, videos, measurements, and readings, and store the data for later use.

AT&T launched a programme in October 2016 that uses drones to inspect cell towers. Verizon also uses drones to inspect tower sites affected by severe storm flooding. AT&T uses drones to test signal strength across different regions in the US. Nokia has performed similar experiments in the UAE.

According to the GSMA’s latest Mobile Economy report, operators will spend $1.1 trillion globally in CAPEX between now and 2025, 80% of which will be on 5G networks. These 5G networks will require telcos to build, inspect, and maintain more sites, which will ultimately serve as locations for drone technology.

Drone-powered solutions

With the telecoms market evolving and operators seeking new commercial opportunities, the potential market for drone-powered solutions (DPS) is significant.

In addition to the benefits DPS can provide to telecom operators, there is also an opportunity for telecom operators to provide these solutions as services to other organizations.

Telcos have deep expertise in connectivity, cloud computing, and big data, and already have network infrastructure in place. This means they are uniquely positioned to monetize enterprise drone operations and become expert providers of automated drone solutions to private enterprises and the public sector.

Telcos could offer DPS by building partnerships in areas related to drone procurement, data processing, and data delivery, and by leveraging their internal capabilities across the value chain.

According to a Vodafone white paper, because telcos already possess the cloud infrastructure and network capacity needed to manage, store, and archive high volumes of data, it won’t take much for them to meet the need for data live-streaming, analyse drone-collected data, and provide their customers with unique insights.

A PwC report also states that the market for DPS, excluding drone procurement, in the Gulf Cooperation Council is expected to reach US$1.5 billion by 2022. This market can be served through multiple business models, such as end-to-end commercial drone services, on-demand live video data acquisition, or a fully autonomous system operated at a client’s premises.

Drone traffic control centers

Telecom operators could help to establish a drone traffic control center (DTCC) that would enable control of drone operations, and ensure compliance with regulations.

Telecom operators can provide the connectivity required for data transfer so that drones can be tracked by airspace regulators and receive real-time air traffic information.

Telcos could facilitate the technology components of the DTCC, from end to end, by supplying and managing data storage, connectivity, cybersecurity, professional services, and applications, including a drone traffic management system and real-time reporting and analytics.

By becoming a provider of these services, telecom operators will be able to meet their own needs, quickly gain a critical mass of skills and experience, and then offer these services to the market – achieving economies of scale and building new revenue streams.

Challenges

Before telcos can seize on the efficiency and revenue-generating opportunities that drones provide, they must first be able to conduct safe and compliant drone operations. Drones fly in low-altitude airspace, which can introduce new safety and compliance concerns.

To realize the full potential of drone technologies, it will be vital to have air traffic management systems in place that prevents collisions between drones and other aircraft.

Along with the benefits with drones to the telecom industry comes a responsibility to operate them in ways that respect personal privacy. As drone operators perform flights over various types of sites, the vast amount of data they collect could include sensitive or confidential information about private property or behaviour.

Given this risk, there is a need for clear international laws and guidelines on how companies should store data, and how individuals and companies can defend their privacy rights.

The lack of clarity on this vital issue of privacy is discouraging some companies from adopting drone-powered solutions.

Article by Telecom Review

Posted in Drone Tech, General Interest, Information

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Wherever the economy goes, drones will lead the way

Such is the flexibility of commercial drones, they are being adopted in more sectors and in more ways than ever before. So much so that it can be hard to keep track of all the applications, so we asked our friends at Coptrz, experts in commercial drone technology, to give us their view on the most important and exciting applications of drone today.

The drone market is set to grow steadily in the consumer, commercial and public safety sectors over the next few years. In many business practices, drones can substitute traditional methods of operation. For example, the inspection industry is benefiting greatly from the use of drone technology.

Thanks to their ever-improving accuracy, greater efficiency, cost savings and enhanced safety features, drones are changing the way that companies around the world perform inspections. In fact, the drone inspection market continues to grow as technology enables more and more applications.

George Burne, Business Development Manager for the Inspection Industry at Coptrz, commented: “The UK inspection industry, like all industries is a constantly evolving market which has welcomed the use of new technology such as UAVs with open arms. What is great about the use of drone technology is it allows business owners to deliver high quality data while near eliminating risk to any of their crew members. Be this internal or external, choosing to put a robot at height or into a confined space is always the best decision.”

George Burne Business Development Manager Coptrz

Inspections, Surveying, Health and Safety, Reducing Risk

Drones are transforming industrial inspections in critical infrastructure. Using drones for inspection allows for efficient inspections at speed where you can acquire high-quality data from dangerous environments. The benefits to organisations of using drones for inspection included reduced risk to workers, cost savings and reduced downtime. Utilising a drone to undertake a visual inspection uses the drone’s camera quite simply to act as the inspector’s eyes.

Along with the inspection industry, the surveying sector has seen a vast improvement on the accuracy of data collected when using drones. The drone survey market continues to grow as technology enables applications such as 3D modelling, site progress and site inspections. The use of drones can significantly reduce the costs of both equipment and labour in medium to large surveys. In most cases, a single drone survey will only require one qualified pilot. Time on site for data capture can be increased up to 80%. The data captured can be used for multiple applications.

Drones can provide the same data output as traditional surveys, but in a fraction of the time. A job that would once take multiple days can now be done in a matter of hours, without compromising on data output. After a quick data process before leaving the site, a surveyor can perform the necessary processing with the knowledge that no data has been missed.

Drones are also revolutionising the police and public safety sectors. Unmanned aircrafts have become a force multiplier for law enforcement teams, providing unprecedented views of a scene or incident – helping to fight crime, plan an effective response and keep officers safe. Police are deploying drones and sophisticated payloads, including zoom and thermal cameras, for a range of thermal missions such as search and rescue, crowd control, evidence-gathering and accident reconstruction.

Agriculture

The use of drones in the agriculture industry is steadily growing along with other industries. Drones are being used in agriculture as part of an effective approach to sustainable agricultural management that allows farmers to help streamline their operations, using data analytics to gain effective insights into their crops. UAVs are particularly useful for the careful monitoring of large areas of farmland, considering factors such as slope and elevation. The technology has also proven useful in gaining an extensive overview of plan emergence and population, as more accurate data can help with replanting decisions, as well as thinning and pruning activity.

Jamie Cording, UAV Strategist at Coptrz commented: “Agriculture is arguably the most exciting area of the UK drone industry right now. With the release of the DJI Phantom 4 Multispectral not so long ago, we felt real strides being taken in terms of research, data and analysis in the field. There’s no stopping where this sector of the industry can go when we look at other parts of the world. The UK agriculture sector is still very young compared to other areas that are using drones, but there is so much that a drone can be used for within this market that makes it so fruitful. There is huge opportunity to revolutionise processes using drones in agriculture.”

Jamie Cording UAV Strategist coptrz

The drone industry is still in the infancy stage in terms of mass adoption and usage, but drones have already broken through rigid traditional barriers in industries which otherwise seemed impenetrable by similar technological innovations. The likes of Royal Mail are piloting the delivery of packages and letters using drones – the possibility for what the technology can do is endless.

Construction

It is said that the construction sector will be the largest commercial buyer of UAVs. Although drones are being actively used in the architecture and construction industry today, business application of drone technology in construction is increasing. The cameras and sensors that can be attached to drones mean that they can make a digital model of real objects from multiple angles that allow a computer to create an accurate 3D model. This building information modelling helps prevent construction mistakes and distribute resources effectively. Flying drones above construction sites can allow for high-definition surveys before projects start, tracking of progress and better management of processes.

There is without a doubt a place for drones in the modern digital world. Today, you can see drones inspecting, surveying and monitoring. The business applications of drone technology is growing thanks to the benefits that the technology brings.

Posted in Drone Tech, General Interest, Information, Iprosurv News

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