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Making Smarter Decisions with Aerial Data

Drone insights prove to be a powerful tool for business leaders

Wed Feb 07 2018 00:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

As a business leader, your entire day is made up of a string of decisions. Your choices can have a significant impact on your work, your colleagues, and the bottom line. But without data to help guide your decisions, you might be heading in the wrong direction.

Sadly, there is no such thing as a crystal ball. But there is drone technology to help you better understand your farm, job site, property, or mine. Drone insights are quickly becoming an indispensable tool in just about every industry — helping leaders make informed decisions with a rich set of aerial data.

Real-time Information on the Job Site

Although some decisions take time and serious analysis, many of the choices that drive your workday are made on the job site, not in the office. Because DroneDeploy’s data lives in the cloud, it’s easy to take a smartphone or tablet into the field for real-time analysis and decision making.

Ryan Moret, Field Solutions Manager with McCarthy Building Companies, uses DroneDeploy’s suite of built-in measurement tools to inform his day-to-day work.

I can tell how many square feet of roof we’ve put down, how much square footage of concrete is left to pour. If we’re trying to figure out truck access, we can measure the width of a road or gate or how much room we need to clear out for material to make the site clean and organized.

Ryan Moret, Field Solutions Manager, McCarthy Building Companies

For real-time decision making on the job site, use DroneDeploy’s suite of tools to make instant area, length, and volume measurements.

Matthew Forster, a project engineer with Choate Construction, agrees. He mapped a 550,000 square-foot manufacturing plant site weekly during construction, using the information to keep his team up to speed, manage subcontractors, and make sure external stakeholders were informed continuously on site progress.

Drones Take the Human Error out of High-Stakes Decisions

Real-time drone maps create a snapshot you just can’t get at ground level. But that is just the start. Drone data really shines when combined with powerful analysis tools like Roof Report, Agremo, and Skymatics.

As corn grower and drone service provider Corey Nohl points out, human analysis is far more prone to error than software guided by machine learning and artificial intelligence.

There is a benefit to flying my crops versus walking them, and making decisions based on computer analytics, rather than just opinions…Drones take the human error out of it.

Corey Nohl, Corn grower and drone service provider

Corey recently helped a client leverage drone data to assess the extent of stand loss after an unseasonably cold spring.

Drone data analysis tools help guide human intuition.

The Agremo Insights app now available on the DroneDeploy App Market.

The grower needed to decide if the loss was significant enough to justify replanting, but he knew that ground scouting is an imperfect science with a high margin of error.

Why make such an important decision with an imperfect set of data?

Using a drone map, combined with Agremo’s stand count analysis feature, the grower had a much more accurate picture of the loss. And when he ultimately chose not to replant, he was sure it was the right decision for his farm — and his bottom line.

Drone Data Pairs with Industry Software for High-Level Analysis

Drone insights help you make quick decisions, but they are also invaluable for analyzing trends and engaging in big-picture analyses. Not only are drone-generated surveys up to 20x faster than ground-based methods, but they also provide a rich data set that can feed into your other software tools like BIM, ArcGIS, and CAD for high-level decision making.

The Virtual Design and Construction team at Brasfield and Gorrie generate point clouds in DroneDeploy and then imports data into Autodesk Revit, where they overlay it with the 3D site plan models and other data to monitor earthwork, streamline site planning, and verify concrete and pipe work, and overall design adherence.

I can overlay a point cloud over that 3D model, line it up exactly and see, for the first time, what’s been built versus the design intent

Hunter Cole, VDC Coordinator, Brasfield and Gorrie

Energy industry giant SunPower uses drone data to help solar farm developers quickly make sense of a staggering amount of solar array choices.

Drone Maps and Models Tame Big Data

Sometimes, too much information is more of a burden than helpful. Drone maps and models help make sense of large amounts of data to streamline the decision-making process. Solar technology company SunPower takes this approach to help solar farm developers decide on the best solar array for large-scale projects.

A typical solar farm site have over 1000 potential layout options. A site developer needs a way to quickly configure and optimize possible layouts, to calculate which design will maximize energy generation while minimizing cost.

SunPower uses DroneDeploy’s mapping software to generate a high-resolution 3D point cloud of a site, then uploads the point cloud into proprietary software to compare the energy productions estimates for a large number of potential layouts. In the high-stakes world of energy farm prospecting, this timeliness makes all the difference.

The Future of Drone Data and Analytics

If you think all of this sounds pretty great, just wait. Drones and drone data software are evolving very quickly. Business leaders who adopt drones now will be well positioned to take advantage of the next generation of drone technology. Here are some of the advancements you can expect to see from drones in the coming years:

  • Scheduled, automatic drone deployments: As more large companies put drones to work, we can expect to see a greater need for automated flight and workflows. This need will ultimately lead to new regulations and completely autonomous drone operations in coming years.
  • Real-time data: Advancements in edge computing made possible by the latest mobile and drone hardware have made real-time drone data analysis a reality. In 2017, we saw the introduction of this technology, and capabilities will continue to expand in 2018.
  • Machine learning to assist with analysis: As automation of flight and analysis kicks into high gear, the frequency of data collection will increase, which will require solutions that leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence to provide smarter analysis.

Where to Learn More

  • To learn more about what to expect from commercial drones in the near future, download DroneDeploy’s 2018 Commercial Drone Industry Predictions.
  • See how Whitewater Hydrogeology leverages aerial information to make decisions about drainage, water discharge, and rehabilitation work at aggregate quarries.
  • Want to bring drones to your jobsite in 2018? Register for our free webinar today and learn how to make a bulletproof plan of adoption.
  • Just getting started with drones at your company? Read our free eBook and get advice from professionals leading the industry in drone adoption.

Get drones working for your business.