A Time-Consuming Process
Assuming weekly flights, it takes the Project Engineer up to nine hours each week to set up Ground Control Points and fly the site (think: preparation, drive time, ground control checks & refresh plus actually flying the drone and capturing the images). It is also important to mention that the Project Engineer is not doing what he was initially hired to do while running drone flyovers. At the same time, hiring a separate full-time employee just for the drone program may not be efficient. The Project Engineer then passes the data to his colleagues for processing, and it takes them approximately two to three hours to process the data (assuming little to no troubleshooting accuracy issues relative to the quality control points).
In order to be able to use this data effectively, the Project Manager must also pay for analytic software, and it takes 20 to 60 minutes to upload the processed data, view it, and start extracting the desired analytics. If the Project Manager elects to use an in-house GIS or CAD technician to generate the necessary calculations for the project using photogrammetry products instead of using software designed to perform these calculations, the net cost per calculation increases even more.
At this point, there is significant lag time between flying the project and being able to access their project data. If the Project Engineer flies the project on Monday, by the time data processing and uploading is complete, the Project Manager won't have answers until Wednesday or Thursday depending on how smoothly the drone data capture, photogrammetry, and data analysis processes went. This lag time and shortage of in-house experienced people prevents project teams from working with the most current data when they need to make critical decisions.