3 Ways Construction Professionals Can Use Aerial Imagery to Improve the Bidding Process

Tony Agresta, North America GM, NearmapTony Agresta, North America GM,Nearmap
From the survey stage to the finishing touches, aerial imagery is changing the game in construction. In an industry that relies on traditional, sometimes outdated, methods of surveying, this technology creates efficiencies and opportunities for stakeholders at every step of the process. As advancements in AI and 3D modeling generate deeper and more automated location insights, construction professionals will be able to make even more informed decisions for their companies, clients, and communities.

Aerial imagery is most useful in the preconstruction phase of construction projects, including pre-planning, site inspection, estimating, and client communications. Clear aerial maps and 3D models provide project managers with historical views of an area,
allowing users to mitigate risks associated with the project and can have an impact on permitting and inspection requirements. When it comes to the all-important bidding process, these insights can make the difference between a winning pitch and a loss.

Aerial imagery is a valuable complement to traditional intel-gathering tools like LiDAR and drone technology. Here are three ways construction professionals can use aerial imagery to improve the bidding process.

1. Aerial imagery is a rich, recent source of truth

Historical data gathered through aerial imagery can help project managers plan for the future by looking at the past. While traditional surveys are often only conducted every few years, aerial imaging and location data companies can fly over their survey areas several times a year. This provides multiple stakeholders with an accurate, evolving picture of the site—and a single source of truth on the ground as they plan the project.

The technology also allows project managers and arborists to evaluate tree overhang and other vegetation concerns.
What’s more, environmental agencies and nature preserves can use aerial imagery to monitor vegetation health to understand the need for on-site contamination investigations and testing. Even utility companies can reference historical data on-site via tablets to find manhole covers and other public utility components in the field.

2. Aerial imagery saves valuable time and money

Before moving forward with a bid, construction firms spend weeks, sometimes months, conducting extensive research on the project. During this key phase of the construction process, location data could help construction professionals better understand the project site and determine the challenges and opportunities of bidding on it. When a firm does decide to move forward on a bid, aerial imagery could improve their odds of winning by helping them identify potential risks much earlier upstream, make better decisions, and decrease unknown variables.

For example, aerial imagery is so accurate that project managers and contractors can use it to take height, pitch, and length measurements while preparing their proposals—all without ever visiting the site. The measurements gathered are precisely to scale, avoiding cases of inaccurate measurements that happen using traditional methods. This allows the user to confidently use the values to calculate the proper quantity of material and labor to complete the project.

3. Aerial imagery boosts safety

Construction professionals know that reducing the number of site visits increases overall project safety. In the past, team members would have to go to great lengths to conduct site visits and surveys—from scaling the underbelly of a bridge to climbing a tower. Today, aerial imagery software that’s compatible with mobile technology and accessible in on-site trailers decreases the number of people who have to venture into the field. By reducing the need for boots on the ground and in-person assessments, these technologies can help construction firms earn a higher safety rating.

Not only do virtual site visits improve employee safety by minimizing opportunities for on-site accidents, they can also help safety managers determine if an area is prone to fires, floods, sinkholes, or other disasters through historical imagery. Project managers can even monitor land use over time to identify when detrimental activities, like waste dumping and other land offenses, started and assess their environmental impact.

Investments in advanced data extraction and machine learning means that the construction project insights derived from aerial imagery and 3D will continue to improve. For example, AI datasets produced by machine learning are saving construction professionals time by capturing attributes at scale across large areas, such as construction sites, building characteristics, roof conditions, and vegetation encroachment. Users can easily switch between the 2D basemap, the 3D terrain data, and the AI datasets, all geo referenced and easily brought together into their preferred software tool of choice.

With high-quality aerial imaging, construction professionals have everything they need right at their fingertips to create engaging presentations or video proposals to win bids—and they can do it faster and more cost effectively than competitors that have to find alternatives like hiring a drone company, scheduling multiple site visits, and recording footage.
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