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The Advent of Drone Usage in GIS

The Advent of Drone Usage in GIS

In a previous blog post, we examined the popularity of the use of drones for GIS based applications.  The popularity of them is growing exponentially, especially for mapping and analyzing difficult to reach geographic regions and terrains.  Here are some of the recent statistics on the growth of drones in the GIS sector:

  • The economic impact to the United States GDP has been valued at $13.6 billion.
  • 70,000 new jobs have been created.
  • By the year of 2025, 100,000 new jobs will be created.
  • Also by 2025, the economic impact will be valued at $82 billion.

The source of this data comes from a recent study conducted by the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, also known as AUVSI.  According to the research report, the two main catalysts driving the need for drones in both GIS research and market applications are, first, manned aircraft or satellites currently being used for remote sensing data collection, which is often very expensive and cost prohibitive and, second, the information and data which are gathered by the satellites may not be timely enough for GIS scientists to study and analyze.

The strategic advantages of using drones over satellites are that flights can be conducted daily (in fact, 24/7/365), and the costs of using a drone are a fraction of what it would be for the use of a  traditional satellite or manned vehicle.

However, it is expected that the prime advantages of using drones will far exceed the main one of cost savings.  For example:

  • Advances in sensing technologies will be further made.
  • GIS data processing, as well as GIS data analysis, will be brought together as one function. In the past they were often separated from one another, and expensive GIS software very often had to be utilized.
  • Because of the advent of the drone, now more sophisticated GIS software can be acquired for just a fraction of the cost, thus, greatly simplifying the data analysis process.
  • Multispectral and thermal data can now be collected.
  • 3-D volume measurements can be much better ascertained.
  • The ability to track and monitor changes with change-detection heat maps will be utilized.
  • Geo referencing and photogrammetry tools can be easily implemented into a drone.

GeoTel is a telecommunications research and GIS mapping firm that researches and provides telecom datasets for more than 5,500 cities in the United States and worldwide. GeoTel’s expertise includes specialists in economic geography, geospatial engineering, web GIS, and telecommunications infrastructure.

Valerie Stephen