Drone Data: 3 Steps To Getting Actionable Insight

Data is at the heart of enterprise drone operations. It drives better decision-making. 

It enables agriculture to maximize pest control and fertilizer use, reducing costs. It gives mining companies the ability to efficiently estimate stockpile volume and quickly monitor changes. It empowers utilities to closely monitor damage and limit operational disruption. 

Great progress has been made in leveraging UAV data collection to improve the world, and more use cases are discovered each week. In 2020, experts expect commercial drones and sensors to take another leap forward. This evolution will enable companies to collect even more data.

But how can you ensure you’re getting the most from your data?

We recently shared tips related to your hardware and software. We hope these tips helped enhance your operational efficiency.

Next up: better understanding and managing your drone data pipeline. Once the drone is back on the ground, here are three key steps to ensure you make the most of the data you’ve collected.

Data storage options

Step One: Keep Your Data Safe and Secure

Your first priority is data security. 

The drone industry is still in its infancy, and gaining the trust of enterprise customers can be a challenge. They have high standards for cybersecurity, and those operating in certain jurisdictions have obligations to comply with stringent data privacy regulations, such as California’s Consumer Privacy Act and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

You need the right infrastructure for safe, secure and compliant data storage. 

Depending on the size of your drone business, data security best practices can include:

  1. Installing a firewall
  2. Using two-factor authentication 
  3. Virtual Private Networks when using and analyzing data
  4. Anti-malware software tools
  5. Enforcing strong passwords
  6. Regular data backups to avoid data loss

Organizations must create an environment of data security within their team and provide clear guidelines, especially when connecting to the company network and accessing customer data.

In addition to data security, finding storage for the large volumes of data, up to hundreds of gigabytes, can be challenging. 

Agriculture companies, for example, require high resolution imagery to track small changes in their yield. This can lead to massive file sizes. A single data collection effort can require hundreds or even thousands of images to cover a large area with the required resolution.

Operators need to be able to fulfill assignments requiring significant data storage. Your options are either physical storage units or, more typically, cloud solutions.

Being more convenient and cost-effective, cloud solutions are much more common. But if you are going to upload data into the cloud, necessary cybersecurity precautions need to be taken—for your safety and for your customer’s peace of mind.

Data Analysis

Step Two: Analyze Your Data Using The Right Tools

Central to effective data analysis is defining a set of questions you want answers to. These questions should be established before your drones leave the ground. 

Many organizations waste valuable time and resources by failing to take the time to set defined objectives. Your flight plan and hardware/software selection should be customized based on those objectives. 

Let’s take agriculture, for example. If a company wants a comprehensive analysis of plant health, a basic RGB sensor would be inadequate. In this case, a multispectral sensor will be more effective in obtaining a richer dataset that would lead to clearer, more actionable insights.

Here are three things to think about when developing your analysis questions:

  1. Be Realistic. Be mindful of the analytical and logistical capabilities of your company. Tackling questions that you’re unable to answer — either because of limitations in equipment or expertise — leads to unhappy customers.
  2. Be Specific. Set clear objectives. Vaguely defined questions lead to vague answers.
  3. Be Relevant. Keep in mind your customers’ core business needs and stay focused on practical solutions.

You’ll also need the right tools. 

Several companies offer photogrammetry software that generates 2D maps and even 3D models. An integrated approach is recommended here. Resist choosing tools ad hoc and choose complete solutions instead. 
As an example, DroneDeploy and Measure offer cloud-based photogrammetry products that can be linked to their respective flight planning and collection solutions. Beyond mapping, both organizations also offer supplemental analysis tools to answer deeper questions.

Data presentation

Step Three: Identify & Deliver Key Insights

This is why they hired you⁠—delivering these actionable tidbits of information that can affect a business’ bottom line. 

And the devil is in the details. For example, it’s helpful to understand which part of a field is unhealthy but the data is truly powerful when you can explain why crop imbalances are happening in the first place. 

These unique insights drive the demand powering the growth of the drone industry.

Here are three tips to turn your data analysis into data insights:

  1. Find Expert Collaborators. Work with peers who can help you understand the context of your data. Real insights require real expertise. Seek out experts in the areas you are working. And don’t forget to leverage internal experts within your organization.
  2. Null Results Are Still Results. In some cases, the analysis might contradict your expectations. Even worse, it might be inconclusive. This can leave you with more questions than answers. Never fear, this is all part of the process. If the analysis led to unclear answers, it may be because your methodology was off and you need to examine your process.Or perhaps the data quality is obscuring certain results. Go back to the drawing board. There are always lessons from the data.
  3. Always Remember Your Initial Objectives. Your fundamental questions should drive all analysis. Many analysts get lost in the weeds trying to make sense of complex data.

Drone data is changing the way the world makes decisions. At DroneInsurance.com, we are using flight data to educate the industry on reducing risk and ensuring safe drone operations. 

If you have questions protecting your commercial drone operation, you can reach us at info@DroneInsurance.com.

As always go to DroneInsurance.com to create your free account and protect your business.

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