The apex of successful commercial drone operations? The ability to transform data into insights that drive better business decisions for your own operations or for your clients.
In agriculture, insights gleaned from drone images influence decisions around maximizing pest control and fertilizer use, ultimately reducing costs. In mining, drone data gives companies the ability to efficiently estimate stockpile volume and quickly monitor changes. It also empowers utilities to closely monitor damage and limit operational disruption.
Great progress has been made in leveraging drone data to improve business operations across the world, and more use cases are discovered each week. In 2021, experts expect commercial drones and sensors to take another leap forward. This evolution will enable companies to collect even more data.
But here’s the challenge: how can you ensure you’re getting the most from your data?
It starts with a better understanding and management of 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.
Keeping Your Data Safe and Secure
Your first priority should be data security. This rings true today more than ever, as the world embraces remote work and more teams are collaborating digitally.
Data security must be paramount. Your customers, especially those at the enterprise level, have high standards for cybersecurity. Depending on your/your customers’ location and the types of data being collected, certain data privacy regulations may also be applicable, such as California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
As a drone service provider, you need the right infrastructure for safe, secure and compliant data storage and management.
Depending on the size of your drone business, data security best practices can include:
- Installing a firewall
- Using two-factor authentication
- Utilizing Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) when using and analyzing data
- Regular data backups to avoid data loss
Organizations must prioritize data security and provide clear guidelines, especially for those connecting to the company network and accessing customer data.
In addition to data security, finding storage for the large volumes of data, which could be hundreds of gigabytes, can be challenging.
Agriculture companies, for example, require high resolution imagery to track small changes in their yield. A single data collection effort can require hundreds or even thousands of images to cover a large area with the required resolution. This can lead to massive file sizes. As a result, operators often need significant data storage. Storage options include either external hard drives or, more typically, cloud storage solutions.
Typically more convenient and cost-effective, cloud storage 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 and your customers’ protection.
Analyzing Your Data Using The Right Tools
For effective data analysis, you should first define a set of questions you want answers to before your drones even 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:
- 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.
- Be specific. Set clear objectives. Vaguely defined questions lead to vague answers.
- 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 may be your best bet, instead of choosing tools ad hoc.
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.
Identifying & Delivering Key Insights
If you’re running a drone servicing business, this is why they hired you—to deliver actionable tidbits of information that can affect a business’ bottom line.
And, remember, the devil is in the details. For example, while it’s helpful to understand which part of a field is unhealthy, the data is that much more powerful when you can explain why crop imbalances are happening in the first place.
These unique insights drive the demand that is powering the growth of the drone industry.
Here are three tips to help turn your data analysis into data insights:
- 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.
- 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. However, this is often just 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. Try going back to the drawing board. There are always lessons within the data.
- 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 businesses make decisions. DroneInsurance.com is here to help support commercial drone operators as they help usher in these changes.
If you have questions regarding insurance for your commercial drone operations, you can reach us at info@DroneInsurance.com, or go to https://app.droneinsurance.com/register to create your free account and learn more about how you can protect your business.