Using Drones and Data to our Advantage - 05/07/2018

The summer here in the northern hemisphere is now fully underway. Here in the UK, another successful Geo Business took place back in May, in case it’s becoming a distant memory see the articles in this GW. Later in June the first anniversary of the UN Conference on the Oceans passed and the joint Hydrographic Society and RICS evening lecture, at RICS Great George Street, was well attended and coincided with the start of the FIFA World Cup in Russia. The joint Hydro evening lecture was actually a re-scheduled December event previously cancelled due to snow and storms.

Storms are mostly seasonal so I was interested in the announcement of a drone based umbrella this summer. It surprised me as I thought that, if you have a product aimed at protecting a person from inclement weather, you would launch in advance of such weather. More fool me as only a couple of weeks later I was witness to a really tropical style downpour that caused me to seek out an umbrella in the shop I was sheltering in. If only I could have called up my drone umbrella or even commanded my robot to collect it!

So should we expect drone based sun hats and baby shelters, or drone flags to assist the guides for those tourist groups who throng around looking somewhat anxious that they might lose their guide? Possibly, but I'm not convinced they are all going to offer practical solutions rather than simply being a short lived gimmick. The tourists could now have their own app to follow their guides. That all said, I really do like those light display events that use drones and which, back in May, set a new(?) world record for the most simultaneous drones deployed for a light show with some 1,374 units airborne – amazing. It’s an indication of where the ocean mapping community may need to look in order to achieve the ambitious coverage of the oceans by 2030 (

This month in GW there are also articles covering BIM and 3D mapping. The demand for these services producing up-to-date, accurate, 3D models and mapping is greater than ever before and whilst they have been the domain of professional surveyors, more users are emerging as the technology becomes more readily accessible. Access to user-friendly technology is important and helps to develop our solutions with robust and reliable equipment and methods. The demands for data and output is increasing and often of a time sensitive nature. The mapping and modelling may be getting simpler but the data still requires professional assessment and due diligence in quantifying the quality and validity of the products and service solutions.

Looking forward to this autumn, the RICS will be holding an important review and referendum on its PG2020 initiative. This is a truly significant event that requires each and every one of us to review and consider the proposal and its implications before submitting our vote. As a major revision to our professional groups and boards it's vital that the membership deliver their view in the form of a vote. You may be satisfied that your interests and views will be maintained and represented or you may feel that important elements of your professional interest are getting eroded and marginalised, and perhaps unrepresented. Whatever your view, the vote this autumn will be pivotal in setting our future direction and this is your opportunity to have a say and demonstrate that you at least are not a robot.

This article was published in Geomatics World July/August 2018

Last updated: 09/08/2020