Iprosurv takes another stride forward with new thermal imaging partnership

Iprosurv takes another stride forward with new thermal imaging partnership

Iprosurv, one of the UK’s leading commercial drone providers, has bolstered its portfolio of drone services with the announcement that it has entered into a strategic partnership with thermal imaging specialists, iRed.

Established in 2002, iRed is the UK’s leader in thermal imaging, remote sensing and enterprise drone solutions and is certified by the Civil Aviation Authority for commercial drone pilots.

Under the partnership, iRed will provide Iprosurv with the latest, most accurate infrared imaging services on the market, expanding the drone operator’s existing broad range of services even further.

Best in Business Partners

Commenting on the deal, Rebecca Jones, co-founder and CEO of Iprosurv, said: “From the day we launched in 2014, we have always placed a huge amount of emphasis upon professionalism and setting the highest standards in training and technology use.

“We know where our specialisms lie and we will continue to build on them but where we don’t have the necessary level of expertise or experience, we will look to partner with the best in the business which led us to explore partnership possibilities with iRed.”

While thermal cameras are relatively commonplace in the commercial drone market, standard cameras lack the accuracy and sophistication required to provide businesses and individuals with the necessary insight.

“By partnering with iRed, we know that we are giving our clients the most up to date, accurate and detailed thermal capability on the market. We can’t reproduce that level of expertise, so we decided to partner with the best instead and make that expertise available to all of our client base.”

Commitment and Quality

Commenting on the deal, Jack Bloomfield, Marketing Manager for iRed, said: “All of our best clients come from long term partnerships. We always look to build sustained, long-term partnerships with the firms who have the same commitment to quality and professionalism that we do – and Iprosurv ticked all the boxes.

“The drone industry is still young but by sharing best practice, technology and expertise, we are working together to create the professional sector that we all want, and our clients deserve.”

The iRed is Iprosurv’s latest strategic partnership following the deals with agricultural specialist Sentera and UTM provider Altitude Angel

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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.

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For drones to thrive we all have to professionalise

Our co-founder and CEO Rebecca Jones recently wrote a blog on professionalism in the drone sector for our friends over at Coptrz, an organisation doing more than most to transform industry with drones. We encourage you to head over to their site to see what they are up to but in the meantime, we thought we’d share the blog with you.

Co-Founder and CEO of Iprosurv Rebecca Jones

After several years of hard slog, constant cajoling and buckets of patience, it feels like we, as a commercial drone community, are finally making some headway in opening up more and more sectors to the benefits that drones can bring to their operations.

Let’s not kid ourselves though – we effectively started from the bottom, working on each prospective client individually, convincing them one by one that drones aren’t just toys but essential tools in the day to day operations of many sectors.

But for all those individuals and firms we have collectively won over, we still face an uphill struggle in making drones an accepted, everyday aspect of the business landscape.

According to a piece of research conducted by PwC in 2019, Building Trust in Drones, less than a third (31%) of members of the public feel positive about the commercial use of drones. When researchers dug deeper to understand that lack of positivity, they found that the top concerns for the public were the improper use of drones (42%), the risk of use by criminals (27%) and the risk of accident (26%).

The public appear to be far more accepting of drones when they are used for search and rescue (87%), identifying and tracking criminals (80%) and supporting other emergency service efforts (84%).

The public only seem open to the use of drones in extreme circumstances rather than for day to day business use but the real threat for commercial drone operators is that this public perception is leading to reticence within the business community to deploy drones.

The same PwC study found that more than a third (35%) of business leaders believe drones are not being adopted in their industry because of negative public perceptions. That is despite the fact that 43% of those same business leaders believe that their industry will benefit from drone use.

A separate report from PwC sought to estimate the economic benefit of the widespread use of commercial drones predicting that, by 2030, drones could have increased the UK GDP by a huge £42bn. More than that, the report predicted that drones could deliver £16bn in net cost savings to the UK economy while creating 628,000 jobs.

The potential upside of commercial drone use is huge, but we seem to be caught between business appetite and public fear. So, the question we all have to try and answer is one that has dogged the drone sector from the beginning – how do we get the public to trust drones?

According to Elaine Whyte, UK drones leader at PwC, the answer lies in all of us: “The drone community across industry, government and civil society needs to change the public discourse from one of uncertainties and toys, to one of opportunity and accountability.

“This can be achieved through better education on the wealth of use cases for drones, as well as increasing understanding of regulation and accountability. The public will only trust a new technology if they understand who is regulating and providing oversight.”

I wholeheartedly agree with her but since these reports came out, the Civil Aviation Authority has bent over backwards to accommodate drones, making them more and more applicable to more and more sectors. The regulator has done its bit – now it is time for the drone sector itself to step up and accept the responsibility of changing public perception.

There have been many calls over the years for greater education of the public which is fine. However, we can tell them about the benefits and safety of drones until we are blue in the face but unless they are convinced about the individuals and organisations operating in this sector and their levels of professionalism, there will always be distrust.

So how do we address that lack of trust? For me, it has to be all about professionalism, setting and meeting minimum standards of operation and accountability. I’m sure there isn’t a commercial drone operator in the country who doesn’t think they operate in a professional manner but what is deemed professional by one person could be seen as completely unacceptable by another. Which is why we need standards and targets to reach creating a baseline of competence and professionalism that the public can look to and rely upon.

Prior to setting up Iprosurv, I worked as a mortgage advisor and through that was exposed to the insurance industry, an industry that has struggled for many years with its public perception. While that industry has had a professional body, the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), since 1912, its reputation has continued to suffer from public distrust.

So, around a decade ago, they introduced the concept of Chartered Status for firms (rather than just individuals) through which organisations had to commit to attaining certain levels of training and competence in their workforce to try to establish a baseline of what professional conduct and operation looked like.

Now I’m not suggesting that the drone industry needs the same approach but crucially, a consumer survey conducted by the CII found that 58% of consumers agreed that they would have more trust in advice from a chartered firm than one which is not.

But what relevance do the standards of a financial services sector have to how we operate in the commercial drone sector? The underlying principle is professionalism and we as a sector have to rapidly professionalise our individual operations and the conduct of the wider community if we are ever to realise that £42bn worth of benefit on behalf of the economy.

When a sector professionalises and does so publicly, trust follows as naturally as night follows day. So, where do we start?

Of course, we already have the Association of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (ARPAS) acting as a trade body for UK commercial drone operators and they have an existing code of conduct. They are our sector’s central hub connecting drone operators with each other and the regulator and establishing standards that can and should be met by all individuals and firms.

Of course, we already have the Association of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (ARPAS) acting as a trade body for UK commercial drone operators and they have an existing code of conduct. They are our sector’s central hub connecting drone operators with each other and the regulator and establishing standards that can and should be met by all individuals and firms.

This is a great start, but they can’t do it on their own – the regulation is there, the trade body is there and now it’s up to all of us to make every effort necessary to show how just how professional each of us and, by extension, our sector is.

Whether that is engaging with ARPAS – and I urge everyone to do so – or committing to certain levels of training or partnering with like-minded, professional-leaning drone operators, whatever it is, any operator that cares about the future of our sector needs to do it and do it quickly.

Greater formalisation of operations and behaviours will come naturally as the sector matures but it won’t arrive by magic. Getting to the stage where drone operators and the sector are seen as inherently respectable and professional requires the effort and commitment of every operator to get the momentum going.

And as we get the momentum going and begin to adopt those minimum standards of operation and professionalisation, it will help start to drive out some of the rogue operators that all of us see out there.

The ones who care more about quick income than creating a sector that the public can trust and rely upon, one that we can all be proud of. And I think it is incumbent upon all of us to call out those kinds of operators out, making it clear they don’t represent our industry.

I’m not having a go at people having a go at making a living out of drones but if we want to get that public trust and the business success that will flow from that trust, we have to not only hold ourselves to the highest professional standards. We have to hold each other to those same high standards.

I’m not having a go at people having a go at making a living out of drones but if we want to get that public trust and the business success that will flow from that trust, we have to not only hold ourselves to the highest professional standards. We have to hold each other to those same high standards.

If we let these rogue operators represent our industry, it would be a disaster. Not only for the wider commercial drone sector but for the wider economy and society as a whole.

This is a truly exciting industry to be operating in but being involved at these early stages of its evolution also brings a huge amount of responsibility to all of us. The regulator can guide us and ARPAS can support us and give us a voice. But neither of these bodies can professionalise us. That responsibility lies with us as individuals and as a community.

So, let’s not shirk that responsibility and instead embrace it, come together either through ARPAS, or other formal and informal networks, to work together and challenge each other to meet the highest professional standards we can.

The time for dreaming of a professional drone sector has passed – the reality of it and need for it is closer than we might think. Now is the time to turn that dream into a reality.

It requires all our efforts and focus to make it happen and it won’t appear overnight. We are in it for the long haul, but I am convinced we can and will do it. With the right motivation, willpower and yes, applying the necessary levels of professionalism to every job we do, every interaction we have with business and the public, we will get the reputation we want.

It is only through those individual efforts and by coming together as a genuine community that I believe we will make the potential benefits of commercial drones a reality for more and more sectors, up and down the country.

Rebecca Jones is the co-founder and CEO of Iprosurv, one of the UK’s leading drone services providers.

Credit for the original article Coptrz

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Operation “foreverwing” to combat illegal drone use.

HOME OFFICE, POLICE AND CAA JOIN TOGETHER TO ACT ON DRONE CRIME

  • Operation Foreverwing will raise awareness of enforcement work taking place around drones
  • More than 330 drone-related incidents recorded during the last five months

LONDON, 22 March 2021: The Home Office, Police and UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) today announce a new campaign aimed at clamping down on drone-related crimes, after 336 drone-related incidents were recorded during the last five months in the UK.

LONDON, 22 March 2021: The Home Office, Police and UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) today announce a new campaign aimed at clamping down on drone-related crimes, after 336 drone-related incidents were recorded during the last five months in the UK.

New Campaign “Foreverwing”

The new campaign, Operation Foreverwing, will see the three organisations work together to show the work the Police is doing around tackling drone crime, in a bid to deter drone owners from breaking the rules.

The Police has dedicated drone teams located across the country, tasked with enforcing the law by handing out fines and confiscating drones if people fail to stick to the rules.  With the CAA setting the rules for drone flying, the campaign will raise awareness of the rules while reminding those tempted to break them of the consequences.

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for counter Drones, Chief Constable Lucy D’Orsi, said:

“The use of drones has increased dramatically in recent years and as a result of that we are seeing instances of dangerous and irresponsible flying.

“If you are a drone owner it is your responsibility to make sure you are following the rules for your own safety and that of others around you.

“These rules can be found in the Drone Code on the CAA website.”

CAA Registration

UK law now dictates that CAA registration is mandatory for operators of drones over 250 grams and all drones other than toys that are fitted with a camera. Failure to register leaves drone users at risk of penalties up to £1,000.

The campaign will see more cooperation between the bodies and joint education targeting drone users.

Jonathan Nicholson, Assistant Director of Communications, CAA, said: 

“With close to 200,000 registered drone owners across the UK, the skies are becoming increasingly busy. Our objective is not to stop people having fun or using their drone for business, it’s to make sure that everyone can share the air safely and that means sticking to the rules outlined in the Drone Code.

“Drones can cost thousands of pounds, and with fines for breaking the rules, the costs can quickly add up for those failing to comply.”

For more information on UK drone regulations, registration and the Drone Code please visit www.caa.co.uk/drones

Media contacts

For further information please contact the CAA at 0333 103 6000 (08:30 – 17:30 Monday to Friday). Out of hours: 07789 745 636.

Alternatively, you can email on: press.office@caa.co.uk (monitored during office hours) 

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A Daunting Task – 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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Adjuster’s perspective: How one drone flight saved an insurer in excess of £200K

When it comes to using tech in insurance, it can be difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. So many claims are made about how technology will enable adjusters to be more efficient and effective but with so much noise in the insurtech space and, regrettably, a number of false dawns, it can be difficult to know who or what to trust.

But taking a conservative, defensive posture in the face of digital progress simply isn’t an option – that is a sure-fire way to get left behind. Which is why at Crawford we carefully analyse, select and trial the range of tools we believe will make a real, practical difference.

This has always been our approach to restoring and enhancing rural lives, businesses and communities and one of the most effective tools we have adopted over the last couple of years is drones.

Think outside the box:

Adjuster's perspective: One drone flight saved insurer £200K

There is an assumption that they are best utilised in flood situations or major loss property claims – basically enabling quick and safe access to areas that humans can’t easily reach. And while that is correct, the applications of drone surveys also go far beyond providing access, as we have found. We started out using drones for flood and property damage claims but recently, we have been using them for core agricultural claims and with impressive results.

For instance, we were recently instructed on an agricultural claim that arose from hailstorm damage to an oil seed rape crop. Just before harvest, the crop was hit by a storm and the hail severely damaged the fragile pods that contain the rapeseed on a large portion of the open fields.

Traditional Approach:

The traditional approach would have been to get the wellies on and measure the perimeters and walk through the entirety of each affected field in a ‘W’ fashion to cover as much of the crop as possible, assessing the severity of damage. Our findings would then be reviewed in conjunction with the combine harvester readouts to try to obtain an estimate of the loss.

Back in 2018, we had discussions with Iprosurv about hailstorm damage to oil seed rape crops and whether drone inspections could assist, and two years later, with this instruction, the perfect claim arose for a trial.

Timing:

It was fortuitous timing as Iprosurv had recently added new equipment to their drones, namely Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) cameras. In simple terms, these cameras analyse the different light colour spectrums reflected by the chlorophyll within crop vegetation – healthy plants reflect at a different light frequency to damaged or unhealthy plants.

Open Field Claims:

We are the first adjuster in the UK to use NDVI technology on open field claims, so it was a bit of an educated leap into the unknown, but the tech not only gave us a quick and accurate measurement of the damaged crop but also the overall health and expected yield of the standing crop. This allowed us to compare the expected yield with the yield achieved and indeed the ‘expected’ yield claimed by the Insured.

Enhanced Data:

That is a level of detail we have never been able to achieve before and, for an outlay of around £2,000 for the drone survey, footage and imagery, the insurer was able to make a £220,000 saving on the initial amount claimed. While that was something of a difficult conversation with the policyholder, the rationale for the settlement offered was all there in the data. As they say, the data doesn’t lie.

Despite what anyone might think, the main motivation for any insurer in any claim is to get to a settlement that is accurate and fair – using a drone fitted with an NDVI camera allowed us to do that with pinpoint accuracy in a relatively short timeframe.

Success:

Such was the success of this, we have started exploring other uses for drone inspections and we believe that it could be of huge benefit in environmental damage, aquaculture, spray drift and forestry claims. We could even use it to analyse the health of a potato crop without having to go through the disruptive, time consuming process of digging up the field. The possibilities are almost endless.

Exciting Times:

It’s an exciting time in the world of claims with more and more digital tools playing an increasingly important role. Whilst it’s true that tech isn’t the answer to all our questions, working with the right partners and with the willingness to try new things, we’ve found that you can effectively separate the wheat from the chaff, both figuratively and literally.

Max Perris is an Agricultural Consultant for Crawford & Company

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What changes to drone regulation really mean for our sector …

It’s been a long time coming but finally, the new drone regulations that will bring the UK and EU countries in line with each other, came into force on the 1st January this year.

While this is a welcome change to the regulations and shows how far the industry has come in such a short space of time, as is often the case with regulations, the devil is in the detail.

The new regulations do away with the distinction between commercial pilots and hobbyists and instead focus on the type of drone used and defining what the flight risks are. Under the old rules, professional drone operators such as Iprosurv, had to have something called Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO) but that will be replaced with an Operational Authorisation.

The new regulations are broken down into three distinct categories, open, specific and certified, all of which have varying pilot competency requirements. I could go into all the detail of the regulations here but there are better qualified people to explain them and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) website is a good place to start for my fellow regulation nerds.

What I do want to dig into and hopefully provide some clarity around is the perception that these new rules blur the boundaries a between commercial providers and hobbyists. There is a perception that once the new rules are in place, anyone with a drone can get it registered, apply for their A2 Certificate of Competence, complete the online training course and sally forth into the commercial realm.

Strictly speaking, they could but anyone considering that or considering hiring such an operator to conduct an aerial drone survey, needs to be aware of the limitations that still apply. For example, under the transitional arrangements, a drone pilot operating under the minimum A2 Certificate of Competence must maintain a horizontal distance of at least 50 metres from any uninvolved individual or occupied building, severely limiting the drone’s scope and effectiveness.

In addition, there are limitations of the type of drone such operators could use to conduct drone inspections. Under an A2 certificate, the drone must weigh less than 4kg which limits the amount and nature of any equipment it can carry, again, limiting its effectiveness.

So, from my perspective, the idea that these rule changes are going to revolutionise and open up the commercial drone market are a little wide of the mark. These changes are undoubtedly important – they bring a much-needed focus on safety and professionalism to our sector which will, in time, normalise the use of drones in public and commercial life.

Rebecca Jones, co-founder and CEO of Iprosurv

Which is a great thing as the more we do to introduce drones to society in a safe and controlled way, the more everyone will feel the benefits they can bring. But it is incumbent upon everyone operating in the drone sector and those companies who use our services, to be very clear about what these new regulations mean.

For me, it is absolutely clear that the man (or woman) on the street won’t suddenly be able to replicate what we have been doing at Iprosurv over the last six years. Why? There are many reasons but chief among them are:

  • We have worked hard to become a key stakeholder with the CAA and to secure operational exemptions that a single operator can’t replicate
  • The limitations around line of sight and distance to individuals or occupied buildings really limits the operational capabilities of the pilot
  • The kind of lightweight drones that can operate under an open category A2 certificate, are limited in terms of the drone platforms they can utilise
  • Lighter drones are also much more susceptible to changes in the weather and more vulnerable to mid-flight drift in stronger winds
  • Data security, when storing or transferring the outputs of a flight, cannot be guaranteed by a single operator in the same way it can by an established, professional firm like Iprosurv
  • Everyone in Iprosurv’s network of pilots has to undergo rigorous training and testing, the kind of education that cannot be replicated by an online questionnaire

These are just a few of the considerations any company thinking about using drones must take into account, whether they are outsourcing that activity or setting up in house. Drones are a complicated piece of kit and are now controlled by increasingly complicated regulations and it will take some time for the market to bed them in.

But the responsibility for making these regulations work doesn’t just lie with the drone community. Anyone who engages with drones on a commercial basis also has, I believe, a responsibility to ensure that a misinterpretation of the rules doesn’t result in the kind of incident they are specifically designed to avoid. No company wants to be at the centre of another Gatwick incident.

So, while the rule changes are a hugely positive step forward for anyone cheerleading the development of drones, we need to be careful that the enthusiasm for this opening up, doesn’t inadvertently lead to the kind of incident that puts drones (and a brand’s reputation) in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

If you are considering engaging a third party to access drone technology, ask yourself the following:

  • Am I engaging with an established, professional drone operator with the relevant qualifications, authorisations and insurance?
  • Can they do what I need them to do while staying within the rules and maintaining public safety?
  • Can they keep me and my customers’ data secure immediately after collection and during any transfer?

If you can’t satisfy yourself of even these three most basic questions, you have to ask yourself if you are willing to risk compromising public safety, the reputation of your firm and the further development of drone technology.

Rebecca Jones is the co-founder and CEO of drone inspection specialists, Iprosurv

Posted in Iprosurv News

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Fire-ravaged Derby church will be restored, insurance company says

A church in Derbyshire that was devastated by fire earlier this month will be restored, the church’s insurance company Ecclesiastical has announced.

A blaze swept through the 700-year-old building on 4th December destroying the roof and causing widespread damage to the structure and interior.

Further inspections have since taken place, with drone technology used to assist structural engineers with the initial assessment.

The Grade I listed building is insured for £11 million and the church is now working with its partners on a roadmap for restoration on what will be a long and complex project.

After visiting the church, Director at Ecclesiastical Jeremy Trott said it was “heart-breaking” to see the historic building in ashes and said it was no easy task.

“It will be a complex project because of the age of the church, its listed status and the rich history of the local surroundings which, along with the site, have scheduled monument status. This means accessing site will be a challenge and we will need to be careful not to damage the ground when using heavy machinery to help clear and restore the site.”

Michael Angell, church operations director at Ecclesiastical, said he feels assured that the church can be restored to its former glory.

“We have a huge amount of expertise in working with churches and we understand the complex nature of a restoration of this scale.

“We’ve done it before – so that’s the key message on day one, to give the community that reassurance that we can get the work done in a way that preserves as much of the history of the church as possible.”

The church has since seen an outpouring of solidarity as hundreds of people committed to contributing towards the repairs. A dedicated crowdfunding page has raised more than £11,000 in donations.

Priest in charge of All Saints Mackworth, Jacqueline Stober said: “A church touches so many people, not just through regular Sunday services, but by being the place that holds people’s memories of those important times in their lives: baptisms, marriages and funerals.”

“The outpouring of love and support we have had since the fire has genuinely been astonishing,” she added.

The full article and more can be found HERE Article by Kelly Valencia

Posted in General Interest, Iprosurv News

What next for drones and Iprosurv? Our clients will always guide us …

When we set up Iprosurv back in 2014, the number one priority was to convince the industry that drones in insurance were the future and that they had a huge role to play in claims and risk management. We believed that then just as much as we do today.

And as we come to the end of our sixth year, I find myself thinking (tentatively), that in the last year the market has finally had its eyes well and truly opened to the possibilities presented by tech and by extension, drones.

In those early days when Shane and I first set out, it was a hard slog convincing insurers and adjusters that there was a better, cheaper way for them to manage their claims using drones to conduct aerial surveys. But a brave few souls took the leap (you know who you are!) and when they did, their peers saw what was possible and more and more have turned to drones for the proven cost and time savings.

So much so, that drones are now a regular point of discussion in the claims and risk management community and they have recently become part of the general market discourse in the trade press.

We are nowhere near full adoption of unmanned aerial vehicles yet, but the momentum is there – it’s only a matter of time before every insurer and loss adjuster is using drones as standard. And I’m not shy to admit that this gives me a huge sense of satisfaction. To imagine a different way of doing things and then to see that actually take place … it’s something else.

But even though I was sure drones could make a big difference in insurance, I am still constantly surprised at the applications businesses find for them and the inspections our pilots undertake.

We always knew drones were perfect to assess the scale and impact of a major flood with their ability to get a bird’s eye view of a landscape. But we hadn’t considered that they could be used by farmers to assess crop damage by taking the colour temperature of their crops.

We hadn’t considered that a water supply firm would want to use drone mapping software to detect leaks in a water pipe rather than dig up the landscape in a time-consuming and expensive search.

We hadn’t considered that a security firm would ask us to survey the security measures at a port facility to help them identify weaknesses in that security.

And we hadn’t expected to be called in by the emergency services to provide crucial support in search and rescue operations.

But all of these instructions and more have come in this year – from statutory LOLER inspections to thermal renewables for hospital refurbishments to site surveillance in support of a criminal prosecution of fly-tippers. All of these have opened our minds to the huge array of potential applications for drone technology.

The interesting thing is, other than using different types of cameras (LIDAR, thermal, photogrammetry) and tailoring the pilot skill with the job, Iprosurv hasn’t actually moved far from our core offering – collecting, translating and delivering data to our clients in a fast, cost-effective and completely secure way.

What is different is the mindset of our clients and the profile of our new clients. It feels like we are well beyond the first hurdle of introducing drones to the commercial world and are now faced with a different challenge – managing the demand and adapting our skills to those new demands.

But the flexibility of drones actually makes that side of things quite straightforward – whatever the request, I can pretty much guarantee that we have a pilot and the equipment to meet it. Just last week we were instructed by an insurer on a business interruption claim and using our imagery and data, the insurer was able to save over £1m by instructing us for less than a thousand pounds. This case, coming in at the end of a hectic year, pretty much encapsulates what drones can do for the insurance industry.

So, where next for Iprosurv and drones after a momentously challenging and rewarding year? Based on what we expected compared to our experience today, I wouldn’t dare hazard a guess but what is certain that our ever curious and creative clients will continue to find more uses for drones and continue to surprise the Iprosurv team in the process.

Whether you are a current or a future client or just an interested observer, I hope you all manage to experience some kind of festive joy during a very different festive season and that when we all return after the break, we will see some light at the end of an often very dark tunnel.

Happy New Year everyone!

Posted in General Interest, Iprosurv News, Uncategorised

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