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05.14.2020Business Tech

This U.S. construction firm is raising buildings via drone

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With the help of drones and aerial imaging, one of the largest privately held construction companies in America continues to boldly build for our communities.

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Thanks to technology that provides a bird’s-eye view of what’s possible on the ground, some of today’s builders are adopting new protocols and using technology to maintain safety standards.

Birmingham, Ala.-based Brasfield & Gorrie uses innovative technology like drones and 360-degree cameras to share critical project and progress data across teams—many of whom are geographically dispersed across the nation.

Staying ahead of the curve—and in the cloud

As one of the largest privately held construction firms with multiple locations across the U.S., Brasfield & Gorrie has relied for several years on drones for access to high-quality aerial data throughout every phase of their award-winning construction projects. If you’ve seen the rocket test stands at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, for example, or visited the Georgia Aquarium or the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park, now known as Truist Park, you’ve experienced the vision and capabilities of Brasfield & Gorrie.

More recently, and just in time to help cities prepare for increasing demand for medical attention due to COVID-19 infections, they completed a number of major healthcare facilities in the South, including the Marcus Tower at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, which opened significantly ahead of schedule.

Trusting Skyward and Verizon to safely scale

Back in 2016, the firm started ramping up drone operations, which they had been testing since 2014 when they established an unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or drone) program. But in order to maximize the value of the technology spread out over multiple distant locations, the company needed to find a way to scale drone operations while honoring their top value: safety.

Brasfield & Gorrie turned to Skyward, a Verizon company dedicated to helping enterprises manage drone fleets today and prepare for the future of connected drones. Through Skyward’s drone operations management platform, Brasfield & Gorrie not only maintains a single system of record for an entire drone program but also ensures processes are carried out consistently and hazards are reduced with standardized workflows. That means checking airspace and coordinating with airports and heliports, tracking operation flight time, equipment and personnel, and getting a big-picture overview of historical drone data across their organization, regardless of where and when team members are working.

“Today, connectivity and drones can transport us anywhere we need to be,” says Ryan Hittie, Brasfield & Gorrie innovation specialist and unmanned systems operator. “Together in the cloud, 34 people from locations across the nation are brought together through a live-streamed drone flight, and during this time of separation we have managed to stay connected in a variety of different ways. The creativity we have displayed staying united with one another is an art form. We are thankful for Skyward for making these connections possible.”

At the same time, Skyward helps make it easy for pilots to comply with both FAA and internal regulations. Brasfield & Gorrie also relies heavily on the Verizon network to upload and process the drone imagery from remote sites along with 360-degree camera footage to share across their home offices and distributed teams as they practice social distancing.

Necessity drives innovation

Brasfield & Gorrie’s use of drone technology on projects is not a future concept; it’s a part of their daily process to enhance team efficiency and performance.

The firm had been using drone technology long before the COVID-19 pandemic, preparing it to effectively use this technology to overcome current challenges.

Click here to learn how Skyward is charting the future of drone connectivity.

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