Local Authority Saves £4.5 Million with a drone

Local councils face a huge challenge when it comes to managing their properties.  Buildings must be inspected and regularly maintained but in an era when budgets are increasingly under pressure, it is vital that resources are deployed as efficiently as possible.

One Scottish local authority are leading the way in using UAV technology to help to meet this challenge head on and to enable them to make huge cost and time savings when it comes to managing their property portfolio.

DSR member Neil Mowbray, and his company Viewpoint Film, have been working side by side with the authority to provide aerial inspection services to over 600 council owned properties.  This forms part of a larger scale program to upgrade all of the housing to bring them into line with HEEPS (Home Energy Efficiency Programmes) and SHQS (Scottish Housing Quality Standard).

Using UAVs versus more traditional methods, such as scaffolding and mobile elevated platforms, has allowed the authority to slash the time required to complete the inspection part of the process to a matter of weeks rather than years.   It has also minimised the health and safety issues associated with teams of staff working at height and the risks of further damage being caused during the inspection process itself.

Neil describes the actual flight work as being ‘fairly straightforward’ with the pilot using a standard flight pattern to capture the roof from all the different angles necessary to allow the surveyors to accurately assess the condition of the roof and tiles.

However, the work (mostly carried out in urban areas) was not without its challenges in terms of planning and preparation.  Tenants and residents needed to be informed of the drone flight occurring and briefed on the safety procedures.  There has also been the need for several short road closures to allow the work to be completed safely and legally.  Luckily safe and legal operation is guaranteed when you book a DSR drone operator!

Members of the local authority staff have been happy to work closely with Neil and his team both in terms of acting as observers and making the necessary arrangements.  Combining this with a number of very early starts to allow flights to take place at first light when the areas were at their quietest, has meant the inspection project has run incredibly smoothly.

The end result of all of this collaborative work has been the targeted deployment of maintenance teams to only those properties in need of work and with an accurate brief as to the scope of the repairs needed.

This factor alone has saved over £4.5 million of public money not to the Local Authority has been able to reap the benefits of a smooth and efficiently run inspection and maintenance programme that has caused minimal disruption to the building residents.

DSR investor, Peter Jones says I can’t believe more councils and commercial operations aren’t leveraging the benefits of drone technology using our network of safe, qualified and legal drone pilots’.

From a DSR standpoint, we are very proud to have Neil as a member and hope that the incredible work and the savings he has made possible will form the start of a blueprint for a large scale property inspections across the UK.

Neil Mowbray, Viewpoint Films, has more than 10 years experience as a camera operator and worked on a number of high profile international productions.  His physics background and many years flying experience coupled with his extensive UAV understanding, means that he is ideally placed to provide drone images in even the most demanding environments and circumstances.


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About the Author: DSR Journalist

Harrison Green