The telecommunications industry was among the first enterprise sectors to embrace drone technology, recognizing the potential of aerial images and data for network planning and asset management, among other applications. Today, major carriers and engineering firms use drones for pre-construction mapping and path surveys, and to gain actionable intelligence about existing towers. Global Video recently partnered with a new telecom industry client to capture aerial photos that will be used to created 3D models of tower structures, conducting more than 600 telecom tower inspections in 60 days during May and June.
“Much of the work previously done by climbers now can be achieved with drones, reducing the risk of injury to workers, and saving wireless carriers time and money,” says Jose Paulino, Director of Operations for Global Video, a leading drone services provider to enterprise clients. “With the newer camera and platform technologies, we can deliver ultra-high resolution images and, in many cases, achieve centimeter-level accuracy on measurements,” he says.
At each tower site, a Global Video drone pilot takes approximately 1000 pictures of the tower, flying a specified pattern to capture images from every angle needed to generate a 3D model of the structure. The aerial image data allows engineers to determine the placement of existing assets and accurate measurements for planning installations, and gives them insight into any potential issues.
“Climbers are still valuable and necessary in the tower industry, but drones are bringing telecom into the 21st century. Instead of tape measures and calipers, we’re using digital data and AI to give engineers and tower owners actionable intelligence,” notes Paulino.
With a background in software development, Paulino continually looks for opportunities to increase efficiencies and productivity for aerial inspections, alleviating administrative work for pilots and for the end client. “We handle all logistics in house, including getting waivers and NTPs,” he says. Global Video’s extensive support system lets drone pilots focus on flying, and empowers enterprise clients to dedicate resources toward business development rather than managing pilot teams.
Innovating for Clients
Paulino spent several weeks in the field with pilot crews to fine tune workflows and data transfer processes, and developed new tools to help the end client better manage logistics for future inspections. Since April, Global Video drone pilots have flown more than 800 telecom towers across seven states, while also serving long-standing clients in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
Says Paulino, “In business, the only constant is change. Those who adapt and embrace technological innovation can outpace their peers. We’re constantly innovating and improving efficiencies to help our clients in the telecom space and other industry sectors achieve their goals.”