PwC launches specialist drones team

PwC has established a team of drone specialists in the UK to help clients take advantage of the emerging technology and extract value from drone data, after the firm’s research estimated the emerging global market for business services using drones is valued at more than $127bn (£93bn)

PwC’s Clarity from Above report found drones have the potential to disrupt a variety of industries, and says the sectors with the best prospects for drone applications, such as infrastructure, agriculture and transport, will be focus areas for the new team.

The team will primarily assist clients with three areas: asset maintenance and monitoring; capital projects and construction monitoring; and strategic planning for deploying drone solutions across an organisation.

The UK drones team will start with six dedicated full-time employees with plans to scale this up. In addition, there are specialists embedded in each of PwC’s main business areas - assurance, tax, deals and consulting - as well as in particular sectors, such as power and utilities, national security and construction.

Elaine Whyte, UK drones leader at PwC, said: ‘Having spent 20 years as an engineer in the RAF, I have seen first-hand the benefits that an aerial view can bring in terms of situational awareness and added insight.

‘The majority of organisations are still using drone data at project stage, rather than embedding the technology into their strategy. I believe we’ll see drones becoming part of business as usual within the next ten years.

‘We’re already seeing early adopters in large-scale capital projects using drone data to enhance insight into their investments, allowing for better control of building sites and creating that definitive golden record of information.’

Drones can help capture information from a new angle, gathering data quickly from hard to reach places with accuracy down to a few centimetres. PwC says they can make a crucial difference to clients in managing costs, controlling risks and improving safety.

The firm’s team will apply data analytics and machine learning techniques to the raw data collected by drones. This will be integrated with existing management information systems to provide comprehensive insights back to clients, for example, those with real estate portfolios, landscapes for development or large structures requiring maintenance monitoring.

PwC is already undertaking client work with drones, largely led out of a centre of excellence team in Poland. This was formed over four years ago and now has a team of around 50, taking advantage of the more expansive drone regulation over Poland.

Whyte said: ‘For UK organisations to really take advantage of this disruptive technology it’s vital we have the right standards and regulation in place. The recent step by the government to announce the upcoming drone bill is positive and we’ll work closely with the Civil Aviation Authority and the Department for Transport to continue to help provide input as standards develop.’

PwC Clarity from Above report is here.

Report by Pat Sweet

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