Facility Management: Benefits of High-Resolution Aerial Imagery
To keep a facility properly maintained and running efficiently, managers need a wide variety of tools in their proverbial toolbox. One of the most versatile of those tools is also one of the least implemented. To better manage what is on or under your facility, you need to see it from a bird’s eye view with high-resolution (high-res) aerial imagery.
The evolution and expansion of drone and image-capture technology have continued to drive down the price of securing this view of your facility, making it more affordable today than ever before. Depending on a number of factors — which include the number of facilities and how close they are together as well as where the facility is located compared to nearby airports — a drone or small fixed-wing aircraft is most often used to secure the high-res image. That image can be used in many different ways to assess and maintain a facility, and the combination of the high-resolution image with UVARA’s asset mapping solution gives owners and operators a unique and comprehensive view of their facility that they likely have never seen before.
High-Resolution vs. Low-Resolution
A quick and easy way to see the difference between a high-res image to a low-res image is to simply view them together. It is quickly obvious there really is no comparison. In the image above as you move the slider back and forth, the higher quality image stands out.
Let’s take a look at the variety of ways a facility manager can use this one zoomed-in view of the larger image.
The most common reaction of our clients when they first view their facility from high above is one of surprise that they can actually see their surface utilities in the image. Manhole covers, storm drains, pull boxes, vaults, lights, valves, meters, and even catch basins and cleanouts — they all can be viewed with high-resolution imagery. So much can be seen that our team uses high-res images as part of the asset verification protocol when we onboard clients.
It is certainly feasible to examine a facility’s roads, parking lots, and sidewalks from the ground. It is much more efficient and cost-effective to use a high-resolution image. From a single view, pavement areas for the entire property can be viewed and assessed for damage or deterioration. The dreaded “alligatoring” especially stands out in these images.
Dead or dying vegetation is usually a telltale sign of a bigger problem. Whether it’s a sick tree with a browning canopy or patches of dead grass caused by standing water, high-resolution imagery can be a valuable starting point for assessing flora in your facility.
Zooming in on other parts of the high-res image allows us to assess other parts of the facility. Roof and HVAC maintenance are critical parts of a facility’s overall maintenance plan. Similar to pavement and vegetation assessment, viewing the high-resolution image should be the first step to building a plan to address damaged and deteriorating rooftops and rooftop HVAC systems.
Tree roots are enemy number one of underground pipes, especially if they are older and made from certain materials such as vitrified clay. Using the aerial image, maintenance personnel can easily flag potential trouble areas, where storm and sewer pipes travel under or near large trees, and keep a close eye out for potential symptoms of a line break.