Every industry is contending with the struggle of being able to operate either entirely remotely or with as little physical interaction as possible. As it becomes clear that the global pandemic is far from over, there are going to be long-term structural changes in how businesses operate and tapping into new solutions is becoming a necessity.

Aerial imaging and the numerous industries that rely on it (such as construction, local government and insurance) are no exception. The success of customers who rely on aerial imaging technology hinges on having as much information about the area being surveyed as possible before any step is taken forward on a project. From gathering measurements and historical data from a distance to when workers first set foot on the project grounds, many factors go into each decision – and there needs to be as clear a picture (literally and figuratively) in order to make sure the right decisions are made. The strain of the pandemic has necessitated achieving the same quality of data at a significantly reduced capacity and set of resources. Not only that, but the demand for faster and better data analysis, insights and processes will continue to increase as those industries scale up.

Enter Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence is far from new, and over the past decade has gained speed and clarity in terms of application. While the topic may inspire futuristic visions, the reality of modern AI is less about science fiction and more concerned with efficiency and agility. Much of the way AI functions in the world as we know is in the form of automation, machine learning and consumer engagement. We encounter it constantly when using search engines, and many organizations utilize it to maximize the value of their own datasets. Among the core functions of AI, the most valuable to aerial imaging is the ability to streamline data analysis and the subsequent insights that follow, as well as scale up the level of detail that aerial imaging can provide.

Insights at Scale

Scaling up is a challenge that nearly every organization (and technology) eventually faces as it grows. AI has been instrumental in automating much of the process so that quality can be maintained as an organization scales up operations. This applies to aerial imaging as much as it does to any other industry or technology. The larger the project, the more processes are required for data analysis and the harder it becomes to achieve the insights necessary for effective decision-making. As more decisions become mission-critical to the success of a project (especially during a crisis such as now), AI can enable the ability to scale up and not lose the depth of analysis and insight as on smaller, more concentrated projects.

Expanded Use Cases

Among the solutions that aerial imaging already provides, the enhancement of AI brings a number of new uses to the table for professionals working in insurance, utilities and local government:

  •  AI-powered aerial imaging can be leveraged for automated property analytics, as well as digital underwriting and claims processing. This streamlines the facilitation of claims management and risk underwriting. Additionally, AI-infused aerial imaging can provide supplementary datasets to enrich risk modelling.
  •  Aerial imaging that employs AI technology can streamline property appraisals, including detecting changes in developments, as well as assessments of development applications and permits.
  •  Aerial imaging tech can use AI to automate and improve change detection for property valuations, benefitting city planning and public safety.

These use cases are more than just nice-to-haves. The sectors they benefit have been contending with challenges that inherently hinder scaling up for a long time now. As mentioned, all of this becomes especially critical at a time when there is no time for mistakes or missteps – yet the same if not more consideration needs to go into each project.

A Pandemic-Proof Solution

It’s impossible to ignore the context in which every industry now operates. While just about every industry and their respective initiatives have been impacted by the pandemic, research suggests that AI-driven projects have actually fared relatively well. ​Appen Limited​ regularly releases studies on the state of AI, and their 2020 report suggests that organizations that have embraced AI are primed to remain resilient and efficient even during the pandemic. In fact, in the same study, more than two thirds of the respondents reported not anticipating a slow-down in the development of their AI strategy or pilot. In other words, among the elements that have been thrown into flux, AI stands out as a technology undeterred by a crisis. At a time when aerial imaging needs to provide clients with better, deeper insights, embracing AI becomes the next natural step.

We are in a time of significant change, and with that comes the necessity for seeking new solutions. AI has been benefiting dozens of technologies and has allowed organizations to scale up operations – even at a time when doing so has never been more challenging. The demand for better data, more insights and streamlined processes means it’s time for aerial imaging to step into that same power. Aerial imaging technology touches many industries, and it is time for the tech to grow alongside them.