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Innovations in Technology

Interview with Belinda Betancourt Dow, Dow GeoSpatial

Published
American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

Knowing the best software and workflows for processing information from drones is vitally important for developing powerful 3D models and accurate maps. Welcome to an interview with Belinda Betancourt Dow, who discusses the specific products she uses in developing maps and models.

What is your name and your relationship to drones and 3D mapping?

My name is Belinda Betancourt Dow and I own Dow GeoSpatial a drone mapping company.

How do you create maps from drone data? Who do you work with?

Creation of high-quality maps starts with planning in advance of the drone flight. Boundary data, route analysis, image density and overlap, number and location of ground control points, flight height and resolution. All this data creates a flight plan for drone operators that not only speeds processing, but increases the accuracy of maps.

Aerial data, with the developed flight plan, is collected by drone pilots. Pilots will then geotag imagery and Data is then edited and prepared for post processing. Point matching with ground control points, using aerial targets during collection and raw number of images collected all factor into processing time. Post processing creates high accuracy topographic, elevation and surface models for use with CAD, GIS and other platforms. The final product is a series of digital and printed outputs within 3-5 cm accuracy, if not better depending on per project data collection.

I primarily work with independent drone operators for data collection with the finished product for developers, real estate, engineers or landscape architects.

What software programs to you use and why?

I use Pix4d for processing of aerial imagery because I have found it to be one of the top interfaces that lets me have control of the processing outputs and provides better overall accuracy.

I then in turn integrate those outputs into ESRI, AutoDesk and even Google outputs for client deliverables. ESRI ArcMap as well as AutoDESk are used widely in the AEC industry and being able to move drone outputs into the formats used by the client or consultant is beneficial to projects. For example: contour lines that have been processed can be put into either software for analyzing slope maps, flood plains, stream segments and wetland inventories using the most near real time data available.

What are some of the project you have been involved in?

My projects vary, from small 10-20 acre mapping packages of XX images to several hundred acres and thousands of images. Final products are primarily orthomosaics, topography and full preliminary surface reports.

How are drones being used in conjunction with Harvey and Harvey recovery?

I feel that Hurricane Harvey was quite an eye opener in how emergency organizations can use drones to assist in something tragic as this. Drones were used on missions such as inspection of damaged areas for insurance appraisals, finding routes for supply trucks to get into hospitals and of course hard hit areas that were surrounded by waters, to search and rescue. When you have the bird's eye, real time view provided by UAV's, you can make smarter, wiser choices that can positively impact timeliness during emergencies such as Harvey. In Harvey recovery, drones were being used by electric companies to scout where troubled lines were located, search and rescue missions and continue to be used in damage assessments.

What would you like to do next?

Continue to grow my business and provide mapping services to pilots and companies in the AEC industry and maybe teach drone mapping classes in the near future. I am also in the process in creating a (DDMI) Drone Data Management Interface for my clients to upload their data and have me process it in near real time for client deliverables. I will share more on that at a later time when the project is almost complete.

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