A recent report by PwC identified that drones and unmanned aerial vehicles could contribute £16bn of net cost savings to UK economy, with government services having the potential to realise significant savings.
Local authorities continue to face unprecedented budget cuts resulting in the need to find innovative ways to deliver services more cost effectively. Drones can play a role in helping local authorities realise savings across the broad range of services they have a statutory responsibility to deliver.
The most immediate benefits from drones will come from lower costs and improved productivity. Drones can be used to increase efficiency of tasks whilst also enhancing safety, reducing risk and improving the quality of service delivered.
Given the breadth of services provided by Local Authorities, the potential use of drones is extensive. Here are some examples of how drones can enhance services and deliver savings:
- Building inspection and maintenance – local authorities have large property portfolios they are responsible for maintaining. Rather than using traditional methods such as scaffolding and elevated platforms the use of drones has enabled one authority to accelerate their inspection programme and deliver multi-million pound savings whilst also minimising the health and safety risk of working at heights
- Surveying and mapping – local authorities have recently produced new Local Plans setting out development needs to 2035. For many authorities, this required consideration of a wide range of brown and green field sites. The use of drones could have provided a more cost-effective way to deliver accurate surveys of potential sites
- Progress reporting – highways departments are responsible for overseeing large scale construction projects such as new roads or road widening schemes. Drones are an efficient way to monitor progress by producing a referenceable visual timeline for the project to facilitate more effective contract management
- Enforcement – local authorities are responsible for a wide range of enforcement activities including planning, fly tipping and boundary limits for extraction in quarrying or restoration of landfill site. Drones can maximise the use of limited resources to help improve the environment
- Traffic analysis – automated traffic count data and modelling is used by local authorities to assess the potential impact of new developments. Actual behaviour vs modelled behaviour at complex junctions is often very different. Drones can provide supplemental videography to optimise traffic analysis models
There are many more potential uses for drones in local authorities. If you have a case study or an idea for a drone project it would be great to hear about it – firstname.lastname@example.org.