Drone Workflows Save OCWA $6,500 per Tank Inspection
Onondaga County Water Authority (OCWA) serves approximately 350,000 customers in portions of five counties in central New York. The service area of OCWA includes 2,200 miles of water mains and 58 water storage facilities, delivering 39 million gallons of water each day. OCWA draws water from two sources: Lake Ontario and Otisco Lake.
OCWA wanted to modernize its systems and workflows to increase efficiencies, mitigate risks, and share information faster. Traditional workflow methods for tank inspections, surface water quality observations, and project planning were identified as areas that needed modernization. The utility planned to revolutionize the way it operated to achieve its goals.
OCWA chose a geographic information system (GIS) software solution using drones. OCWA uses Drone2Map for ArcGIS to transform drone-captured photographs into actionable information products that can be used for analysis and decision-making. Since Drone2Map for ArcGIS is connected to OCWA's mapping portal, these products are easily shared as web maps, apps, and scenes. OCWA uses the DJI Phantom 4 Pro UAS (unmanned aerial system), which is compatible with an array of mobile applications. A mobile device is used in conjunction with the UAS controller to monitor the drone in real time as well as enable and configure various flight and camera settings. The mobile applications currently used by OCWA are the DJI GO 4 app as well as Map Pilot. Each application has its own feature lists, and both allow for automated flights and programming.
Industry – Water Utilities
User - Onondaga County Water Authority, serving approximately 350,000 customers in portions of five counties in central New York
Challenge - Revolutionize operations to increase efficiencies, mitigate risk, and share information.
Solution - Implementation of Drone2Map for ArcGIS®®
Results - Saved $6,500 per tank inspection by eliminating historically expensive and not very timely data collection
The drone-based solution provided a quick turnaround with unique, specific viewpoints of tanks and other areas of interest. The solution enabled OCWA to put the drone to work in weather conditions where staff would consider inspections to be difficult to complete. It supports planning and maintenance by providing staff with the ability to easily review an entire project area. Aerial photography can be made available to stakeholders to monitor the work done, justify costs, plan for risks, and formulate mitigation strategies.
This solution has led to budget savings of approximately $6,500 per tank inspection by eliminating historically expensive and not very timely data collection. It has also resulted in savings related to harmful algal bloom research.
"Drones are highly maneuverable and can capture a wide range of angles at varying heights and distances. The 4K camera used on the drone allows for extreme detail of assets. Even the largest tanks in our distribution system can be captured in under 20 minutes with 100+ HD images capturing every square inch of the asset." Will Bianchini - Systems Analyst, Onondaga County Water Authority