DJI AirWorks 2018 showcased numerous ways that drone technology is making a difference in industries that range from public safety to agriculture. However, the technology has made a particularly notable impact in AEC (Architecture, Engineering & Construction), where it can be used to drive decisions and complete tasks faster, cheaper and safer in especially powerful ways. The process to adopt and integrate drone technology into an AEC workflow to actually enable these benefits can be a challenge though.

Removing these kinds barriers to entry for the technology is exactly what DroneBase was created to do in AEC and beyond. The company has become a trusted, go-to platform for worldwide enterprise commercial clients across insurance, commercial real estate, residential real estate, construction, telecommunications, media, and more. By working with their client's operations and technology departments to integrate into their backend through the DroneBase API, users have been able to create incredible efficiencies. As a brief example, DroneBase has helped an insurance client decrease claims settlements from 11 days to 5 or 6 days.

Daniel Burton, CEO and Founder of DroneBase, was at AirWorks to discuss how his company has been able to enable these sorts of efficiencies in AEC environments. It’s something he’s been able to do party by turning the capture of data via drones into a commodity, and that’s made a big difference for Stockpile Reports. To underscore the difference it’s meant to them, a traditional inventory process for the company used to take 12 hours. Using DroneBase, their time on site was reduced to a mere 20 minutes.

We caught up with Dan to further discuss a few of the topics he explored during the presentation, including whether the efficiencies Stockpile Reports created could be enabled for other companies, what the process to get up and running with DroneBase looks like and plenty more.


Jeremiah Karpowicz: What can you tell us about when and how you recognized the need to create a global drone operations company?

Daniel Burton: I was an early user of drones in the military and I saw how aerial imagery allowed us to make better, more strategic decisions. I knew that there was a business application for drones and that this was where the future was headed.

After serving in the Marines, I earned my MBA at Harvard Business School and immediately started getting to know the early companies adopting drones. From there, I founded DroneBase and homed in on scaling drone operations quickly, affordably, and reliably for enterprises around the world.


How have you seen DroneBase services impact and possibly change considerations around how an organization utilizes drone technology?

When I first started out, I would have to convince businesses that this technology could help them make better decisions about their most precious assets. I’d often fly the missions myself. Once they saw the aerial images and data, they couldn’t argue that it wasn’t meaningful.

Since then, DroneBase has helped insurers inspect structural damage, construction sites monitor progress, mines assess their stockpiles, and real estate professionals take aerial images of properties around the country.


Your AirWorks presentation, "Creating Worksite Efficiencies with Drones”, detailed the value of drones in AEC. Have you seen DroneBase create similar benefits and efficiencies on other industries?

Absolutely. Drones are best at property level data capture, so that includes insurance, real estate, and telecommunications.

In insurance, for example, we help insurers get claims out to their customers in almost half the time as an on-the-ground adjuster. This means that families who lost everything in a hurricane or fire are able to get back on their feet quicker.


The presentation specifically explored how Stockpile Reports utilized DroneBase services to change the way they were leveraging DJI’s drone technology. Was their approach to leverage the DroneBase platform similar to what others have done?

Yes, it’s similar. We’ve partner with many companies to increase drone services adoption whether that company already has a drone service, like Stockpile Reports, and is looking to expand it nationally, or needs the drone operations layer. For the latter, companies usually need aerial drone imagery to compliment their analytics.


The reduction in time and costs are measurables that we can quantify, but one of the other key benefits of the technology is about the impact it can have on safety. Where and how have you seen the technology make a difference on this level?

At construction worksites, it’s common to have someone take a picture from a high vantage point - whether they are being hoisted from a truck or on a crane. Drones should be doing that work. Drones have also helped insurance adjusters and telecom professionals stay safe. Since they don’t have to climb on a damaged roof or cell tower, drones provide both industries with the information they need without the worry of falling.


Do you think other organizations will be able to see similar success like the 400% cost reduction Stockpile Reports was able to quantify? What kind of expectation should someone new to the platform have around creating value with it?

We’ve seen similar successes across industries, and we’re excited that Stockpile Reports has been such a great partner in letting us tell their story. We just launched a new analytics dashboard where partners can see their orders over time and assess how much time and money they have saved by comparing DroneBase to their previous workflow. We’re continuing to update our analytics dashboard with additional crucial information for our partners.


What does the process to start managing a worksite project with DroneBase look like? Is it something that takes awhile, or can someone make it happen fairly quickly?

We can make it happen fairly quickly. You can contact us, and we’ll walk you through the process for the first time. Thereafter, you can either connect us into your backend through our API or upload an order in our recently updated ordering system. You can add an address or coordinates, draw the area that you want shots of, tell us any additional information, and pick your package.

After that, we’ll send you a confirmation and you can watch in the new dashboard when a pilot has accepted the mission, when the pilot arrives and leaves the site, and when the asset is ready.


If I’m someone who thinks DroneBase might be a fit for my company or could create efficiencies for a specific product, but I’m not sure what it will mean to explore how that would work, what would be my best first step?

Your best step is to reach out to us. Since we have the world’s largest Pilot Network, no drone experience is required. Our partners send us the address and simple instructions, and we have one of our pilots take care of the rest.

We’re here to help customize something that’s right for your business. It’s our goal to create an ROI-positive model for you.