DRONES & YOU
FLYING ROBOTS HELP MAP POST-HURRICANE DAMAGE
BY MARSHA CANRIGHT
If you see flying robots circling above you in the Houston sky, don’t call your doctor about hallucinations just yet.
Small airborne drones are part of the massive effort by insurers to investigate residential damages in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. These unmanned aircraft can closely examine areas that are difficult for humans to access safely, according to Mike Winn, chief executive officer of DroneDeploy, a drone-mapping software company.
Imagine that an insurance surveyor climbs on your roof to detail damages and almost falls through. In addition to endangering the person, it could also delay your insurance claim.
“If the surveyor was flying a commercial drone, he or she would receive results in minutes, instead of months. It would cost less and would pose less of a personal hazard,” Winn says.
Because the recent floods affected more than 30,000 properties with at least $11 billion in property damage in Harris and adjoining counties, Winn says surveyors are obviously overwhelmed and in need of high-tech tools to complete assessments in a timely manner.
DRONES IN ACTION
Mapping disaster sites for insurance companies is only one use for these tiny flying machines. While drone development is still in its infancy, multiple companies in the United States — including Amazon, UPS, the military and telecommunications firms — are investing in innovative applications, including structural inspections, storm tracking, weather forecasting, mail delivery, geographic mapping, traffic flow planning, sports photography and monitoring and modeling construction sites.
Drones provide a quick method to gather and analyze data, navigate debris and help deploy rescue teams after disasters. Because drones can carry high-definition cameras, radar and other high-tech equipment, they offer a broad view without great cost.
REAL ESTATE MATTERS
While some drones investigate and gather information on damages, others are producing remarkable visuals of Houston real estate to show potential buyers every aspect of available properties.
Lily Jang, a Houston television personality who now owns her own real estate business, uses dramatic drone videos to help her customers explore what’s available in the Houston home market. She also produces “Lily’s List,” a weekend real estate segment on KPRC Channel 2, using drone photography to feature local homes from the $100,000s to multimillion-dollar listings.
“To me, drone video is so cinematographic,” Jang says. “Drones offer a sense of awe that ground-based photography simply cannot. My photographer, Nick Cadena, gives you a bird's-eye view of the entire property that shows landscaping, pools, fence lines and the home's proximity to amenities, schools and parks.”
After the hurricane, Jang has used drone technology to make sure roof damage had been corrected on homes under contract. And in her business, drones help her clients to sell properties.
Her best tip for photographers using drones to capture the essence of a home?
“When it's a gorgeous sunset, fly that drone around a property and show off how beautiful it would be to sit on that outdoor deck and watch the sun setting,” she says. “People remember what they feel. Make that property feel like home.”
Lily Jang Real Estate
Nick Cade Productions