Setting up a new company in the middle of a global pandemic is probably up there in the list of “101 things not to do in business” but I have been planning on doing this for some time. Having spent 20 years in the TV industry working for companies such as the BBC, Sky, Channel 4 and for major telephony companies such as Vodafone and TalkTalk, I decided to embark on a career change last year. As a result, Essex Aerial Photography was born and is now open for business.
I kept reading lots of stories about drones. I don’t just mean the ones about them causing chaos at airports (although the Gatwick story is a good one for conspiracy theorists if you look into it further!) but ones where drones were frequently being put to good use and helping communities and businesses around the world.
The technology in a drone is incredibly impressive and even just a few years ago, it would have seemed like something out of a science fiction novel if you explained what one could do. With some no bigger than a person’s hand, these devices can fly at extraordinary distances whilst sending back a live HD video feed to the user. They can get to places previously only accessible by planes, helicopters or, at lower levels, cherry pickers and scaffolding. It’s this use of technology that is allowing drones to be used in a variety of new and innovative ways.
In developing countries, drones have been used to deliver medical supplies to people in need. During the Notre Dame fire in Paris, drones allowed firefighters to see the destruction from the air allowing them to target literal hotspots using thermal cameras. They have even been used to assist search and rescue services by rescuing people stranded at sea in Australia.
Even in the current battle against COVID-19, drones are being used. Countries around the world are turning to drones to help stem the virus. In Connecticut, police are using a “pandemic drone” which can measure body temperatures, read heart rates, and detect for coughing and sneezing from 190 feet away, according to the drone company Dragonfly. In other countries, they are being deployed to spray disinfectant, deliver essential medicines and goods and also for surveillance. It is activities such as these that has caused the #dronesforgood motion to be formed, highlighting all of the benefits drones can bring.
From a business point of view, much has been made of drone deliveries. Amazon have been testing their Prime Air service in a remote part of Cambridge for a couple of years now and anyone who has attended CES recently will have seen the potential for drones in this space. In the not too distant future, we could even be getting Uber drones in scenes reminiscent of The Jetsons.
Mobile operators are also at the forefront of the evolution of drone technology. Currently, you can only legally operate a drone whilst maintaining Visual Line of Sight. By adding a SIM card to drones and connecting to 5G networks, you can fly Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) which will open up even more opportunities. Vodafone have published a paper highlighting all of the potential future benefits BVLOS will bring and PwC believe that by 2030, £42bn could be added to UK GDP with over 600,000 jobs in the UK drone economy.
So, where does Essex Aerial Photography fit into this burgeoning sector? Well I’m a long way off from Hubble Deliveries (TM) so I have set out to provide a professional and personal service for businesses and individuals located in Essex and the surrounding counties. Last year, I obtained my Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO) from the Civil Aviation Authority which means I am legally allowed to fly my drones for commercial purposes. Additionally, I am fully insured with added public liability insurance.
I am initially focussed on offering aerial photography services covering:
- Building inspections – allowing clients to inspect buildings for damage without the need for scaffolding or cherry pickers
- Estate agents – bringing additional value by offering aerial images of properties to stand out from the crowd
- Construction sites – whether it’s a business or an individual undertaking a new build or renovation, I can provide updates at set intervals so the client can see the progression of the build
- Promotional material – offering a unique perspective of your business together with video editing if required
As I said at the start, I appreciate this isn’t the best time to be offering these services but as the majority of jobs are done solo, work can still go ahead as long as social distancing is in place. However, I understand this might not be suitable in all scenarios so even if you just want some general information or might be interested in using my services later in the year, drop me a note.