New drone-based services for surveying in Oxford

Oxford Direct Services has announced that it is to start providing drone-based services to include roof and building surveying, land mapping, aerial photography and filming.

The commercial arm of Oxford City Council, Oxford Direct Services will focus on surveying the roofs of 7,800 properties it maintains on behalf of the council, saving time, driving down costs and reducing the health and safety challenges usually encountered with this type of work.

It is reportedly the first time a council-owned organisation has brought drone services in-house and shows the innovative approach adopted to generate revenue since the council created the wholly-owned company in April. All profits created by Oxford Direct Services will be used to fund public services in the community.

The council will be using a DJI Phantom 4 Advanced quadcopter drone, which has excellent safety systems and is simple to fly using a remote controller with built-in screen. Offering up to 30 minutes flight time per battery, the drone comes with dual-band satellite positioning, five vision sensors for obstacle detection and is equipped with an one inch 20 Mega Pixel camera capable of shooting 4K super HD video and stills.  

Ben Strang, ODS’ project leader of drone services, explains: “I was a felt roofer for 15 years. If you’re working on low to high rise housing blocks to identify, for example, pest entry points or find roof leaks, putting up scaffolding is at best a very hit and miss process. You erect the scaffolding where you think the source of the issue lies but if it’s not there you then waste time and money moving the scaffolding tower. Using a drone resolves this and helps us pinpoint exactly where we need to work so that we can do first-time fixes and enhance efficiency.”

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