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I joined Hollis in a cutting edge and newly created role as Surveying Innovation Partner in 2019.  Actually, I was already known to the company as I – and my drone company, Auster Aviation – had been involved with Hollis on a number of instructions.  In my new role ‘on the inside’ my expertise (and my drone company) have been absorbed into Hollis.  With the move comes exciting new possibilities in technological advances for the company.

We’re all very aware of the huge developments in technology and how this affects our lives: the impact of innovation in the property world is no less apparent.  Hollis has always been at the forefront in terms of developing new services and new ways of doing things.  Now there’s an even stronger focus and I’ve been busy developing a number of exciting initiatives since joining Hollis last summer.

I firmly believe that the future of property relies on the visualisation of data: the business benefits and the opportunities of data have become enormous.  For example, I can foresee that, when a building is being sold, investors will potentially want to see all of the data that is associated with that building, in order to better understand what the building is truly worth to them. A building’s data will become an intrinsic part of the whole lifecycle of the property.

Capturing data is what drones do best.  In a ‘traditional’ roof inspection carried out from a cherry picker the surveyor can only realistically inspect the roof from a number of sample points.  Some parts of a roof may be completely inaccessible.  A drone, on the other hand, can provide an overview of the entire roof – and do that extremely efficiently.  There are other benefits too, not least concerning working at heights and health and safety.

The data collected by a drone – and therefore the conclusions that a surveyor can draw from it – are much more comprehensive.  Data can be used to help clients understand precisely what issues there are with a building and imagery in subsequent years can also reveal if those issues have worsened, and to what extent.  For example, if a crack has been identified, where is it and exactly how extensive is it – and has it changed since the last inspection?  Drone data capture helps us to provide a quicker and cheaper service for clients, and the data we capture and interpret will help our clients in better decision making around their properties.

It’s perhaps no surprise that I spend much of my time on site, flying and conducting drone inspections.  Who knows, but, perhaps in the more distant future, it may even be that surveyors won’t need to visit sites at all?  What is likely, I think, is that in harnessing technology site inspections will become a much more triaged process.  By its very nature innovation never stands still, so there are many new initiatives in the pipeline – and not just in drone technology.

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Drone survey of Segro’s industrial unit – 7,8 and 28, Acton Park Industrial Estate, London – which Hollis project managed.