Former Police Drone Pilot – Joins Iprosurv Franchise

Former Police Drone Pilot – Joins Iprosurv Franchise

When you’ve spent as long as I have in the police force (27 years!!), you can get to a point where nothing much surprises or fazes you. That was certainly me up until 2020 when I discovered the power of drones.

https://iprosurv.com/2022/05/10/former-police-drone-pilot-joins-iprosurv-franchise/

I held a range of roles in my time in the police force from firearms officer and road policing to lead investigating officer and trauma risk incident manager. But when I caught wind of drones and how they could assist the police and other emergency services in their work, I knew I wanted to get involved. I knew that drones could make a real difference to the police and the communities that rely on us.

So, in September 2020, I qualified as a drone pilot and was one of the first to obtain the Civil Aviation Authority General Visual Line of Sight qualification. I was deployed to a range of situations from crime scenes and road traffic accidents to natural disasters such as floods and storms. We also started using drones to help us police crowded spaces such as public events, protests, music festivals and football matches.

Of course, a drone can never replace a police officer but the impact they had on our operations was incredible. The oversight, insight and hard data they provided to us in near real time was invaluable and they are rapidly becoming a core tool in every police force’s box.

Iprosurv Security and emergency services

But like all good things, my career with the police came to an end in April this year but I knew I had only just begun my exploration of drones and what they are capable of. But knowing you want something and figuring out how to do it are two entirely different matters. I knew I had to find the right partner for this next phase in my career.

That was when I found Iprosurv. A well-established, nationwide, technically advanced company that had a real focus on professionalism and raising the profile of commercial drones was looking for new franchisees to help expand the reach of drones even further.

That sounded good to me and when I saw the enthusiasm for drones that Rebecca has and her conviction that our use of drones is still in its infancy, convinced me that I had found the perfect organisation to allow me to enter the world of commercial drone operations.

Iprosurv Academy

While it’s all very new, it’s all very similar at the same time. I have lots of practical experience in the kinds of applications that Iprosurv want to see drones being used in and the recent establishment of the Iprosurv training academy means that I can bring my experience to more and more pilots across the country.

It’s an exciting time for drone technology, for Iprosurv and of course for me. Like Rebecca I believe we have only just scratched the surface of what drones are capable of and I can’t wait to get started in spreading the word and the enthusiasm for drones far and wide under the Iprosurv banner.

Rebecca Jones CEO Iprosurv

“Martin brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Iprosurv and we are looking forward to supporting him on his journey with us, Martin due to his past experience will be a great asset and a great addition to the team especially in our security sector”

CEO Iprosurv Rebecca Jones

You can visit my webpage to find out more about me and the services I can offer HERE

You can also visit the Iprosurv opportunities’ page to find out more about being an Iprosurv Partner HERE

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The winds of change, Windblown forestry, storm Arwen and Drone Technology

Drones in Forestry

The winds of change, Windblown forestry, storm Arwen and Drone Technology, The monitoring and observance of forests and woodlands can pose a tiresome and exhaustive process in a sense that requires an abundant amount of workforce and skills and appropriate resources. when a catastrophic event hits it it becomes increasingly difficult for the forestry managers and workers to take immediate action owing to the large span of areas that constitute forests and the dangers that it produces.

As a means of relief, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) help in terms of aerial surveillance, mapping, aerial photography, thermal imagery, and topographic monitoring. Subsequently, enabling forestry managers to take swift and immediate action and make increased and faster decisions based on real time data. this also aids in wildlife conservation, biodiversity and vegetation conservation, the balance of ecology, and similar aspects of forestry by getting back to normal as quickly as possible.

Tree health and disease detection

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning fuelling the drones have proved beneficial in the space of tree disease detection and prevention. LiDAR sensors in drones help accumulate and process data attributed to the wellbeing of trees, vegetation, and bushlands. Thermal imagery, topographic surveying, aerial mapping help locate diseased flora and navigate horticulturists and forest officials towards improving their conditions.

Windblown Storm Arwen

In November 2021 parts of the UK and predominantly the Scottish Borders and Cumbria were hit with winds gusting more than 75mph with the highest being 98mph in Northumberland.

The winds of change, Windblown forestry, storm Arwen and Drone Technology

As well as devastation to property, infrastructure, and utilities, large areas of woodland were devastated with more than approximately 1 million Metric tonnes of windblown trees and an estimated 4000 hectares of land (just smaller than Dundee) roughly 1/3 of what would be felled nationally in a given year.

Although windblown events are rare and hard to predict, when they happen the after-effects can be devastating with forestry management plans shattered, plans that could have been planned to encompass forest management and timber felling and replanting, sustainability for the next 5 or 10 years.

Forestry and Estate managers have a huge task calculating affected areas, clearance, felling permissions, all before a plan for replanting.

Windblown areas can be highly dangerous areas with uprooted trees blocking access partly fallen and weak trees ready to fall at any time, some weighing over 3500 kilos (3.5 tonnes) creating a serious risk to life for forest workers.

Application of drone technology

Utilising drone technology at the right time can improve workflow by gathering vital data in the hours and days after an that can help facilitate quicker applications for felling, understanding the site and the extent of the damage, access routes, damage to utilities and other structures, priority clearance.

Windblown-forestry-Iprosurv-storm-arwin

If the data is collected correctly the production of Ortho-mosaic topography, lidar maps, digital terrain models, digital surface models.

Multiple file formats Tif, Tiff for import into GIS high-definition JPEG, 4k video, LIDAR, NDVI and NDRE, Thermal the information using the correct platform such as Iprosurv’s proprietary platform could be shared instantly with multiple stakeholders, insurers, loss adjusters, government organisations, contractors, forestry managers, and owners but to name a few.

Satellite Imagery vs Drone

By their true essence, Satellites have been immensely useful in the space of monitoring and surveillance by providing imagery and wide visual content. Their dynamic abilities help capture bountiful facets associated with many industries in which forestry is one of them.

storm arwen satellite imagery

They have no limited time frame of functioning or power issues and can produce results conveniently. Despite these qualities, satellites encompass a fair number of demerits that include compressed and sketchy aerial imagery as opposed to those captured by drones and UAVs.

Overcoming the disparate challenges and obstacles that come in the way of forestry, drone technology has helped surpass the same through its varied applications. Thrusting the abstraction of aerial imagery and monitoring, drone applications have brought the specialization of topographic surveillance, aerial photography, thermal imagery, and more to the forefront of forest cultivation.

Storm-arwin-Iprosurv-windblown

The flexibility of drones allows them to capture high-resolution images and video in real-time, even during the humid tropical climate. Artificial Intelligence-powered drones, along with drones that use LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and NDVI (Normalised Differential Vegetation Index) can monitor and inspect large areas with focussed coverage that yields faster and more precise results and data.

Introducing drones into your business

Drones in your business, Advice, Guidance, Consultancy.

At Iprosurv we understand that taking on new technology can be daunting especially when there is so much to consider, types of drone, applications, software outputs, regulation and training. it easy to understand why some businesses just decide to avoid implementing drones into their workflow.

That’s why we run advice, guidance, and consultancy service, to offer businesses the opportunity to explore the use of drones without the cost, see our page on “Drones in your business, advice, guidance, consultancy”. to see if you would like to explore any of the services we offer whether that be, a house managed service, Iprosurv managed service or, expanding on your current drone operations.

The future of forestry

With the speed of deployment and the addition of multiple data outputs, GIS integration, health and safety mitigation, area coverage, and not forgetting cost as opposed to more traditional methods drones have to be a consideration within your forestry management workflow.

Redefining the elements of forestry, drone technology entails merits towards the progress and advancement of the forest ecosystems. Drones, in this realm, push the boundaries of forest cultivation and maintenance, redeeming wildlife and vegetation, while also monitoring risks to prevent the felling of trees. With the adoption of drones, forestry can witness a high cascade of improvement and growth, like never before!

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We Will Remember Them 11/11/2021


With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.


Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal,
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation,
And a glory that shines upon her tears.


They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.


They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.


They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables at home;
They have no lot in our labour of the daytime;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.


But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known,
As the stars are known to the night.


As the stars will be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

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Iprosurv: Leading the way to a more professional sector

Andrew Hamilton, Iprosurv’s new Director of Training and Development, talks about how he believes training and practical experience are the only way the commercial drone sector will secure the public trust that it needs to thrive.

It’s always exciting to start out on a new part of your career but joining Iprosurv as Director of Training and Development is particularly exciting as it feels we are on the cusp of something big.

Rebecca, the CEO of Iprosurv, will tell you that getting industry switched on to the potential of drones wasn’t an overnight thing and she and co-founder Shane have spent the last seven years convincing the world of business, one sector and one organisation at a time, that drones can revolutionise their operations.

And of course, they’ve not been alone in that – there are a growing number of commercial drone operators up and down the country doing the same and it is great to see them turning more and more organisations on to drones.

But that growth comes with a risk. There is still a general wariness of drones and while some organisations have plunged in, the majority are still dipping their toe to see what happens.

What every company experiences when they try drones for the first time, will have an impact on their perception of the drone sector and that one experience with one pilot can have serious consequences for all of us. Our collective reputation is at risk with every flight undertaken which is why it is so important that every flight is performed to the highest standards.

While it is a concern, it is also a huge opportunity for everyone in the sector which is why I’m so excited to have joined Iprosurv and to get started on the training.

My introduction to drones

I got into training by accident really. In 2013, I bought my first Phantom 1 with GoPro Hero 3 camera attached and after completing my drone training I was awarded my first PfCO in October 2014.

At the time, I was a serving Police Officer on the Roads Policing Unit where I was involved in investigating fatal road traffic collisions. At the time, we relied on the police helicopter to provide the aerial footage for our investigations but during one investigation the police helicopter was redeployed to a life-threatening incident and I was unable to get the aerial footage I needed.

So I decided to bring my drone out on patrol with me. Looking at the data the drone had collected was a big moment as we could all see in that one deployment how much more efficient and effective they could be.

I retired from the Police in 2016 but returned in 2017 to set up the first dedicated Police drone unit in the UK with up to 40 pilots and 15 drones. After their initial PfCO courses the drone unit would then teach the officers to fly drones in policing situations which is when my passion for teaching and training revealed itself.

That passion took to me to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as their UAS Sector lead, where I led a team dealing with OSC applications, auditing, oversight and enforcement of drone operators.

From there I became the Lead Instructor for an RAE delivering drone training on behalf of the CAA. The role of an RAE is to assist the CAA in assuring the competence of remote pilots that require an Operational Authorisation through the General Visual Line of Sight Certificate (GVC).

The competency of UA pilots involved in the operation of an unmanned aircraft is one of the main factors in ensuring UA operations remain tolerably safe and give confidence for this industry.

And that was me – hooked on training new drone pilots and providing real flight time experience to them.

It’s all about professionalism

One of the key things that attracted me to Iprosurv was Rebecca and Shane’s commitment to high standards of training for all their pilots and their insistence that the sector had to become more professional if it was ever to fully realise its potential.

The training and development of all pilots in the Iprosurv network, supporting them as they take the step in flight ability and safety, is my number one priority and the more training we provide in new technology, techniques and regulatory requirements, the more professional our pilots will become.

As that professionalism starts to act as a differentiator for Iprosurv, others will hopefully be galvanised to similarly invest in best practice and training. Everyone operating in the commercial drone sector needs to continually challenge themselves and their peers to achieve ever higher standards.

If we do that for ourselves and for each other, I am convinced that we will all secure the trust from the public and from business that we need to ensure that commercial drones secure their rightful place as an intrinsic part of the economy.

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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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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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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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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Drones, data and digital: the changing face of farming

Our traditional view of farming owes more to childhood tales than reality with the harvesting of data almost as important as the harvesting of crops. Greg Emerick, co-founder of Sentera, an agriculture mapping software firm, tells Iprosurv how the future of farming is digital and how Sentera and Iprosurv are bringing that future to UK farming.

Our view of agricultural is often a romantic one, jolly farmers tending to their crops or their livestock and being one with the nature that surrounds them. But that owes more to the storybook version of farmers we are given as children than it does to the reality of making a living from the land.

The real face of farming is big business, worth billions to the UK exchequer, employing hundreds of thousands of people and providing 64% of the food eaten in the UK alone. Farming is serious stuff with serious consequences if anything goes wrong.

And when you’re reliant upon Mother Nature’s benevolence for your success, you’ll try everything possible to reduce the impact of her volatility.

Farmers have been finding innovative ways to do just that from the earliest times. Managing water through irrigation began around 3100Bc; harnessing the energy of animals with the plough was introduced in 3500BC; getting the most out of the land with crop rotation started somewhere in modern Belgium in the 16th Century; the widespread commercial use of fertilisers on soil really kicked off in the late 19th Century; the mechanization of tractors and implements began in the mid 20th Century; and seed breeding and traits accelerated in the late 20th Century.

None of this will surprise you but the point is that farmers have always been innovating and today is no different.

The only real difference is the form that innovation takes. Where once it was strapping a plough to an ox, now it is strapping a high-tech light sensor to a drone to conduct an aerial survey. But the motivation is the same – using any means or tools at their disposal to profitably improve production and quality while reducing risk as much as possible.

Greg Emerick, co-founder of Sentera

This focus has manifested itself in the last ten years or so in precision agriculture which in short, is the practice of precisely managing nutrients, water, seed and other agricultural inputs to improve economic outcomes in a wider range of growing conditions.

But it also encompasses the use of automated farm equipment like tractors, guided by GPS systems. And farmers in the US, where Sentera is based, have really embraced this new approach to agriculture. They’re applying tech to gain insight into a range of issues including:


• electromagnetic soil mapping
• soil sample collection
• crop yield data collection
• remote sensing or aerial imagery
• crop or soil colour index maps
• soil types
• soil characteristics
• drainage level
• potential yields

Not quite the picture of the jolly farmer ploughing his fields in his trusty red tractor that we all grew up with. This is the face of modern agriculture and it is changing all the time. When you look at that list of applications for the tech being used, one thing is common throughout – data. Agriculture experts are always looking for new and more efficient ways to gather that data and, most importantly, to act on it.

At a basic level, Sentera gathers and analyses data. The way we gather that data is with simple-to-use sophisticated sensors on drones or satellites and analytic tools, but when you boil it down to the basics, that’s what we do.

Farmers and their advisors use the analysed data Sentera’s sensors gather to manage their operations more efficiently – be that to measure the germination and emergence of their seed, evaluate the health and viability of a young crop or produce weed maps for precision spraying applications.

But there are broader applications. For example, asset managers use it to track and understand the value of their investments and to predict crop yields allowing for better crop marketing decisions.

And insurance companies are using drone surveys to gather the data to provide a more accurate view of what they are underwriting and, when there is a claim, calculating the most accurate payment.

In fact, the data is completely agnostic – it can be used by a range of people involved in the sector but the most important thing, and the biggest benefit, is that everyone is working from the same data.

This approach to agriculture is becoming increasingly more common in the US. With our recent partnership with Iprosurv, we are now bringing this drone mapping capability to the UK.

Because what drones do is make the application of our technology so much easier and accessible for farmers and their affiliates. Top of the rage equipment, well trained and experienced pilots and a platform that allows for quick, efficient and accurate collection and delivery of the data, allows growers or analysts, asset managers or insurance companies, to act quickly and effectively, whatever the situation is.

It may seem like science fiction stuff now, but I can assure you that tech is the future of farming. In the US it’s the present and it is fast becoming the same in the UK.

Today, agriculture is the least digitised industry globally. However, it is quickly changing into a sophisticated, tech-enabled industry that has, since its inception, been all about innovation. Now is an excellent time to be adding these capabilities to your operation.

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View from the front line: a tech-led loss adjusters

Loss adjusting is is often seen as the preserve of men with clipboards and measuring tapes but as Darren Anderton, Head of Major Loss – North, at McLarens explains, the truth is far more digital than you might imagine.

Loss adjusting tends to be viewed as one of the more traditional areas of the insurance market: as a profession founded upon values such as trust, personal relationships and expert knowledge, but one in need of modernisation and disruption.

There is a lazy assumption that loss adjusters are an army of grey-suits in wellies, brandishing clipboards as they tour the nation’s disaster sites. Yet, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

While we still focus on what we do best – getting people and businesses back to where they were before disaster struck – our armoury of tools is far more digital.

Digital Models

For some time now McLarens have been shifting to an ever more digital model. We operate globally on a remote claims system where all our files and data are stored, where everyone is connected and where we can – as we have recently shown – work effectively as a virtual office. Our global technology strategy is about delivering convenience, agility, and safe services for our clients.

When lockdowns were announced across the globe, we were able to shift to 100% homeworking in 48 hours.

But not only have we been able to work remotely, we have extended our digital capabilities to policyholders. We have a purpose-built, mobile app that allows them to stream real-time, geo-tagged and tamper resistant image evidence of damage to their property from anywhere in the world, by photo or audio-visual recording, directly to our system from where we can start the claims process.

In less complex claims, this level of data can even allow a claim to be settled within hours or days, vastly improving the customer experience.

And that ability to assess and manage claims remotely has been enhanced considerably by the use of drones. They have been part of our toolkit for some time now where we have used them primarily in large losses such as building fires, and in surge events such as floods.

All those digital tools working in harmony, has allowed loss adjusters to focus our expertise and experience on what matters most to customers – getting their claim settled quickly and fairly

The necessity of lockdown has seen us, and others, deploy them for less complex losses – roof damage to a property for example – and all of that together, all those digital tools working in harmony, has allowed loss adjusters to focus our expertise and experience on what matters most to customers – getting their claim settled quickly and fairly.

A tool in the box

There are some out there who fear that technology, including drones, is a threat to loss adjusting but at McLarens, we see all the digital tools we use as a huge boon – not just to policyholders and insurers but to us too, as a business and as individuals.

Will loss adjusters have a decreasing role to play in low level, low value claims as this technology becomes more prevalent? Probably, over time.

There’s no doubting that investment in front end personal engagement on certain cases brings about a more efficient and better customer experience, particularly for sectors of society such as the aged, vulnerable, and less IT savvy who benefit human contact over technology. But at the lower end of claim values, technology will enable a greater proportion of claims to be managed on a desktop or automated basis and we will see a greater focus on lifecycle reduction.

The secret

The secret will be in finding the right balance and ensuring that those claims that require the attendance of an adjuster due to size, complexity or a particular nuance, do find their way to a suitable expert to guide the claim through to settlement.

Far better to focus our energies, our expertise and the technology at our disposal on the larger, more complex and potentially more costly claims. The claims where we can really show the value of what we do. Whilst technology is no doubt assisting and bringing efficiency, it will not deliver the empathy or the innovative loss mitigation solutions that a good adjuster brings to such situations.

McLarens

I don’t think there is any question that the increased use of technology in loss adjusting is a positive, for every party involved. For McLarens, the only real question is: where the next piece of tech is coming from and can it improve the way we work?

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