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Managing Drone Data: Choosing the Right Data Service Provider


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Presentation for InterDrone 2018.

Choosing a drone data service means choosing a trusted business partner. But with so many choices, it can be hard to know which one you should use. What advantage does one have over another? Unfortunately, the answers are not simple. A lot depends on your business model, your target market, what functions you need, and quite frankly how much you are willing to spend. The good news is the current wave of development and innovation in online drone data services is focused on mapping and analytic solutions that drone business service providers and enterprises can use to help solve real-world problems – problems like infrastructure decay, crop yields, stockpile inaccuracies, improper construction sequencing, mining site logistics, etc. With that in mind, in this session I’ll outline the important criteria to help you evaluate the various web-based mapping and imaging services for drones.

In this session, you’ll learn:
• Who are the major providers and what’s their focus?
• How to determine the value of the services they provide?
• What questions should you be asking when comparing offerings?
• What’s the best way of integrating a service into your existing workflow so that it simplifies your operations and save costs?

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Managing Drone Data: Choosing the Right Data Service Provider

  1. 1. 1|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC MANAGING DRONE DATA: CHOOSING THE RIGHT DATA SERVICE PROVIDER September 6, 2018 Presented by Colin Snow
  2. 2. 2|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC About Skylogic Research, LLC is a research, content, and advisory services firm supporting all participants in the commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry. We help companies make critical investment decisions with confidence by providing research-based insights on the commercial drone markets. Our focus is on the needs of three constituents: • Manufacturers, suppliers, and business service providers – who need research and insight into buyer needs • Buyers of UAS technology and services – to help inform their acquisition decisions • Investors – who need to distinguish technical and market viability This focus, plus research as a foundation and reach into a community of more than 90,000 business executives and innovators through social media and media partnerships, allows us to deliver a high-value, low-risk method for achieving optimal understanding. Drone Analyst® is the registered trademark and brand name and trademark of Skylogic Research, LLC Learn more: Web Twitter @droneanalyst Email
  3. 3. 3|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC 5,700 clients worldwide Research,content,oradviceto:
  4. 4. 4|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Objectives Who are the major providers and what’s their focus? How to determine the value of the services they provide? What questions should you be asking when comparing offerings? What’s the best way to integrating a service into your existing workflow so that it simplifies your operations and save costs?
  5. 5. 5|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Topics Workflow and the role of software in drone operations Characteristics of drone data (raw and processed) Analytics and AI Major vendors Pricing IT best practices Five selection tips
  6. 6. 6|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Workflow Flight Planning •Site selection •Airspace •Flight path •Overlap •Capture parameters Data Acquisition •Aircraft / Platforms •Sensors •Computer vision •Embedded AI Data Processing •On-board •Cloud-based •Post- processing •Live streaming •Storage •Images/ video •Photo- grammetry •3D models •NDVI/ index maps •Machine learning/AI •Mobile •PC •Real-time data •APIs Data Visualization Data Presentation Operations •Flight logging •Fleet management •SOPs •Safety checks •Pre-flight / post- flight maintenance •Insurance Drone industry software will need to support a standardized but flexible workflow to cover the various operation types with built-in functionality or an ecosystem of partnerships. Operation Types: Standardized Workflow Day Night Over People BVLOS Source:: Ardenna, Frost and Sullivan,, and Skylogic Research •Asset Management (EAM) •Operations Management •Procurement •Service Management Data Integration
  7. 7. 7|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Data services Flight Planning •Site selection •Airspace •Flight path •Overlap •Capture parameters Data Acquisition •Aircraft / Platforms •Sensors •Computer vision •Embedded AI Data Processing •On-board •Cloud-based •Post- processing •Live streaming •Storage •Images/ video •Photo- grammetry •3D models •NDVI/ index maps •Machine learning/AI •Mobile •PC •Real-time data •APIs Data Visualization Data Presentation Operations •Flight logging •Fleet management •SOPs •Safety checks •Pre-flight / post- flight maintenance •Insurance Source:: Skylogic Research •Asset Management (EAM) •Operations Management •Procurement •Service Management Data Integration
  8. 8. 8|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Characteristics of drone data “Non-standard” IoT data • Geospatial • Images, videos, binaries • Various file formats, indexes, metadata • Require image analysis to support • Requires transformation and parsing
  9. 9. 9|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Data types Raster Pixels TIFF, JPEG, etc. Static and RDBMS friendly Vector Points, lines, polygons (XYZ and LAS) Triangles represent the terrain surface These are often combined, e.g., in a digital elevation model (DEM) which is an image and vector data – 3D Source: Wikipedia
  10. 10. 10|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Processed data Orthomosaic Spectral / Thermal Photogrammetry LiDAR Video complexity
  11. 11. 11|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Orthomosaic Unlike an uncorrected aerial photograph, an orthophotograph can be used to measure true distances, because it is an accurate representation of the Earth’s surface, having been adjusted for topographic relief, lens distortion, and camera tilt. Orthomosaic - An orthophoto, orthophotograph or orthoimage is an aerial photograph geometrically corrected (“orthorectified”) such that the scale is uniform: the photo has the same lack of distortion as a map. Source: Tim Boucher
  12. 12. 12|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Source: Wikipedia Spectral imaging Spectral Imaging – Example: Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) is an index describing vegetation by showing the difference between near-infrared (which is strongly reflected by vegetation) and red light (which is absorbed by vegetation).
  13. 13. 13|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Source: RTF Drones Thermal imaging Infrared thermography (IRT), thermal imaging, and thermal video cameras detect radiation in the long-infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Building construction technicians can see thermal signatures that indicate heat leaks in faulty thermal insulation and can use the results to improve the efficiency of the final product.
  14. 14. 14|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Source: Tim Boucher Photogrammetry Photogrammetry is a technique which uses photography to extract measurements of the environment. This is achieved through the use of overlapping imagery; where the same feature can be seen from two perspectives it is possible to calculate measurements.
  15. 15. 15|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC DEM Digital elevation model (DEM) is a digital model or 3D representation of a terrain's surface created from terrain elevation data. DSM: Digital Surface Model = (earth) surface including objects on it DTM: Digital Terrain Model = (earth) surface without any objects Source: Wikipedia
  16. 16. 16|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Image: Knowledge Center Point cloud A point cloud is a set of data points in some coordinate system. In a three- dimensional coordinate system, these points are usually defined by X, Y, and Z coordinates, and often are intended to represent the external surface of an object. Point clouds may be created by 3D scanners or photogrammetry software. These measure a large number of points on an object's surface, and often output a point cloud as a data file. The point cloud represents the set of points that the device has measured.
  17. 17. 17|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Point cloud Geometric dimensions and tolerances can also be extracted directly from the point cloud. In geographic information system, point clouds are one of the sources to make digital elevation model of the terrain. The point clouds are also employed in order to generate 3D model of construction environment. Image: ANRA Technologies
  18. 18. 18|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Image: HeMav LiDAR LiDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth. These light pulses—combined with other data recorded by the airborne system— generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of objects and their surface characteristics.
  19. 19. 19|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC BIM Building information modeling (BIM) is a process involving the generation and management of digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of places. Files are created which can be exchanged or networked to support decision-making about a place. One model, one map, one link.” – Scott Widman, DPR Construction Image: Asia Green Buildings
  20. 20. 20|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Video imaging Video is almost always stored in compressed form to reduce the file size for storage. A video file normally consists of a container format (like MOV or MP4) containing video data in a video coding format alongside audio data in an audio coding format. This process is done using a Codec. Currently h.264 is the predominant codec on the web. The container format can also contain synchronization information and metadata such as GPS location and directional data. This data can also be encoded in each frame. There can be 24, 30, 60, 120, and even more frames captured per second (FPS). 10 minutes of video at 30 fps = 18,000 frames
  21. 21. 21|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Video data analytics What is happening? • Is anything moving? • Where does it go? • When does it get to someplace interesting? What is the value? • Data to decisions • Automation • improves exploitation of data • Increases data analysis efficiency • Improves performance What can I see? • How does it change over time? • How big is it? • Where is it? More GPU than CPU Source: Kitware
  22. 22. 22|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  23. 23. 23|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Image recognition
  24. 24. 24|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Machine learning Chihuahua or Muffin?
  25. 25. 25|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Machine learning Maxim: Someone has to train the model Maxim: All models are not perfect Source: Nanonets
  26. 26. 26|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Deep learning Deep learning is a machine learning technique that teaches computers to do what comes naturally to humans: learn by example. In deep learning, a computer model learns to perform classification tasks directly from images, text, or sound. Deep learning models can achieve state-of-the-art accuracy, sometimes exceeding human-level performance. Models are trained by using a large set of labeled data and neural network architectures that contain many layers. Image: Neurala
  27. 27. 27|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Predictive analytics Source: Nanonets Objective: detect the following infrastructure to capture the construction progress of a house in it’s various stages : 1. foundation (start) 2. wallplate (in-progress) 3. roof (partially complete) 4. apron (finishing touches) 5. geyser (ready-to-move in).
  28. 28. 28|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Challenges and constraints There are several challenges to overcome when automating the analysis of drone imagery. For example 1. Flat and small view of objects 2. Difficulty in labelling data 3. Large image sizes 4. Object overlap Source: Nanonets
  29. 29. 29|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Vendors Where to get this: Go to my website Got to ‘Research’ First ‘Industry Reports – Free’ tab
  30. 30. 30|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Vendors Drone Data / Image / Video Processing Software Market Share (2018 preliminary findings). Data represents over 112 brands. 21% 17% 17% 14% 7% 5% 2% 2% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1%1% 9% Adobe (Lightroom, Photoshop, Premiere, etc.) Pix4D DJI GO / GO4 / Skypixel DroneDeploy Apple (iPhoto, iMovie, Final Cut Pro, etc.) Agisoft Photoscan Drone2Map for ArcGIS (esri) Maps Made Easy PrecisionHawk Bentley Systems Trimble (Business Center / UASMaster) DJI PC Ground Station 3DR Site Scan Autodesk (Forge, ReCap, 123D) DroneMapper All others (less than 1%) n = 1228 Source: Skylogic Research
  31. 31. 31|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Vendors Problems with Data, Image, and Video Processing Software (2018 preliminary findings) 11% 4% 5% 6% 9% 12% 13% 14% 15% 17% 20% 41% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45% All other problems Image security for users or customers NDVI accuracy Reporting functions Integration with the other downstream software Composite image accuracy Not enough analytics Data upload process Data export App or software crashes User interface / user-friendliness Speed of processing n = 579 Source: Skylogic Research
  32. 32. 32|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Stitching VENDOR 1 VENDOR 2 VENDOR 3 Source: William McNeil, Contributor / Advisor, Skylogic Research
  33. 33. 33|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Pricing Terms (freemium, monthly, annual, maps / month) Sensor support Algorithms / analytics Tools (e.g. exports, APIs, 3rd party software pre-integration, GCPs, etc.) Customer service / support
  34. 34. 34|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC IT best practices for drone data management Data governance Source aviation system access and APIs Security and reliability along the “chain of custody” Archive of source data for later re-processing Master Data Management (MDM) Privacy and risk mitigation Access control Source: Drone Analyst and SmartC2
  35. 35. 35|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Tip 1 Know your business objectives - and ensure your provider does, too. Before signing up with a drone data mapping or imaging service provider, make sure that provider is fully committed to understanding the use case and the industry vertical you serve. Not all do. Some providers have more experience in one industry vs. another. For example, they may promote the functionality to serve mining when in fact their core functionality is based on serving agriculture.
  36. 36. 36|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Tip 2 Know who’s behind the curtain Choosing a data service provider means you are choosing a business partner. Businesses come and go, and enterprises should ask hard questions about the portability of their data to avoid lock-in or potential loss if the business fails. So, if you are interested in the long term viability of that partner it’s always good to know who owns it, runs it, and funded it. For some vendors, this is easy. For others it may take some digging. For example, PrecisionMapper is owned by PrecisionHawk. That was easy. But did you know FarmSolutions is owned and run by the parent company of Dronifi?
  37. 37. 37|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Tip 3 Pay attention to security, not just cost Security and cost are also significant factors. Unfortunately, comparing vendors' costs and security prowess isn't always easy. In many cases, it's simply not an apples-to-apples comparison. What's more, tracking down information related to a provider's costs and security strategy can be tough, but here’s what you want to know: • Access privileges: Service providers should be able to demonstrate they enforce adequate hiring, oversight, and access controls to enforce administrative delegation. • Regulatory compliance: You and your enterprises client are accountable for the data you collect -- even when it’s in a cloud service. You should ensure the service provider you pick is ready and willing to undergo audits. • Data provenance – When selecting a provider, ask where their datacenters are located and if they can commit to specific privacy requirements – especially if you are serving agriculture. The farmer will want to know. • Data recovery – You must make sure your service provider has the ability to do a complete restoration in the event of a disaster. Your enterprise customer will ask
  38. 38. 38|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Tip 4 Check the box – When people ask me what’s the best drone service my answer is always “the one that best meets your particular requirements.” If you don’t already have a list of requirements, then it’s time to get cracking. Here’s a starter list. Note that some of these may not apply to the industry you want to serve: • Mosaic creation • Ortho-rectification • 3D point clouds • Digital elevation models - including digital surface models (DSM) and digital terrain models (DTM) • Crop health analysis tools (like NDVI) • Volume measurements (like stockpiles) • Plan overlays • Change detection • RTK / PPK support • Manual or automatic shape identification • Feature extraction • Object recognition • Annotations • Automated reporting and task management tools • APIs and outputs for use in GIS, CAD and building information modeling (BIM) software. • Audit history • Team collaboration • Local coordinates • Radiometric calculations Not a complete list of features
  39. 39. 39|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Tip 5 Evaluate their speeds and feeds • How fast do you want results? • How do you want to see it? • Do you need a preview? • Do you want to access and enjoy full functionality on a mobile app, or is a using web browser all you need? These all matter – and may matter more to your client than to you.
  40. 40. 40|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Review Role of software in drone operations Characteristics of drone data (raw and processed) Analytics and AI Major vendors Pricing IT best practices Five selection tips
  41. 41. 41|Copyright 2018 – Skylogic Research, LLC Questions?