3 Ways to Improve Communication on Your Jobsite with Drones

Monitor, Measure, and Communicate with Drone Maps and 3D Models

Oct 24, 2017
3 Ways to Improve Communication on Your Jobsite with Drones

Keeping tabs on a construction project is no small task. Every job has many moving parts. From tracking progress to managing subcontractors, communicating across teams can be challenging — no matter the size of your organization. The good news is, by spending less than an hour each week mapping your jobsite with drones, you’ll gain an entire toolkit to help you and your team work more efficiently, make more informed decisions, and communicate with ease.

Drone maps and models not only provide an aerial view of your project, but each map includes a rich set of data that can be used to further measure and analyze just about anything on a site.

Here are three ways you can improve communication on your jobsite with the use of drones and aerial maps.

1) Project Monitoring and Site Inspection

60% of DroneDeploy customers make maps weekly. This regular, overhead view is invaluable when it comes to tracking progress and inspecting for safety issues on construction projects.

As Matthew Forster, Project Engineer for Choate Construction, points out, an aerial view gives his team a different perspective, helping them catch issues they might not notice at ground level.

Drone maps give my team a bird’s eye view of the site, which looks a lot different than being on the ground. It gives them a full picture.

Monitor More Efficiently

Although nothing replaces boots on the ground, weekly drone maps can significantly reduce the amount of time you spend walking an entire site for the purposes of inspection and monitoring. If an issue stands out on the drone map, and warrants closer inspection, DroneDeploy’s built-in annotation tools allow you to mark the exact location of the issue and make shareable notes for efficient follow up.

Inspect the site from above and make annotations for follow up or closer inspection.

Inspect the site from above and make annotations for follow up or closer inspection.

Regular mapping flights have the added bonus of creating a complete, visual record of a site’s progress, which many project managers and site engineers find invaluable when it comes to exploring trends over time.

See a site’s progress from start to finish in this time-lapse.

See a site’s progress from start to finish in this time-lapse.

Learn more by reading the full case study.

Catch Conflicts Sooner

For more advanced oversight, you can import and overlay site plans right in the DroneDeploy interface, or export your maps into industry software like BIM, GIS and CAD. You can easily export your data in the format you need, including TIFF, KML, SHP, DXF, LAS, OBJ and XYZ, or use open APIs to sync your data with everyday tools.

Overlay design plans to manage large projects from design to completion.

Overlay design plans to manage large projects from design to completion.

Contract Project Manager Nick Johnson of Tilt Rock of Texas does this to help him manage large, custom home projects. Homeowners make frequent changes to house footprints, models, and orientation, so Nick overlays drone maps with utility, wastewater, and communications plans to help him can catch conflicts with services before they actually happen and redirect them at minimal cost.

Aerial imagery identifies conflicts I wouldn’t normally see from the ground level. Now, I find out about conflicts in a matter of days, instead of months.

2) Take Volume and Area Measurements, Estimate Stockpiles, and Monitor Earthwork

Every location on a drone map is geotagged, so you can take basic measurements almost instantly, from any device. Many teams use standard drone maps, combined with DroneDeploy’s built-in tools, to take basic area and volume measurements and estimate stockpiles for on-the-go decision making.


Instantly calculate area, cut, fill, and volume of a stockpile on your site.

For situations that require centimeter-level accuracy, ground control points (GCPs) can be added to a map. These marked targets help mapping software accurately position your map in relation to the real world and afford the accuracy needed to make precise volumetric and linear measurements. Learn more about GCPs here.

I can tell how many square feet of roof we’ve put down, how much square footage of concrete is left to pour. If we’re trying to figure out truck access, we can measure the width of a road or gate or how much room we need to clear out for material to make the site clean and organized.

Make On-the-Ground Decisions Quickly

Measurement tools can be used to help your team make more informed decisions about a whole host of everyday site issues. The staff at McCarthy Building Companies uses DroneDeploy to assess everything from the volume of a topsoil stockpile, to the width of a road for truck clearance. As Field Services Manager Ryan Moret puts it, “For what we’re doing on a commercial site, the measurement tools are killer.”

Reduce Downtime by Monitoring Contracted Work in Real Time

Many construction professionals also use drone-generated measurements to review the work of site contractors. With quick access to this type of information, a site manager can easily hold a contractor accountable, and save downtime by requesting changes to work before the contractor leaves the jobsite.

During work on a 61-acre hospital construction site, the VDC team at Brasfield & Gorrie used drone-generated elevation data to monitor the site grade on contracted earthwork, saving days compared to on-the-ground data collection methods.

3) Share Insights, Align Teams and Inform Stakeholders

Drones make collaboration and information sharing, both internally and externally, easier than ever before. DroneDeploy’s platform is cloud based, so it’s easy to share annotated maps between team members, or keep external stakeholders up-to-speed on the progress of a project.

In contractor meetings, having a clear display of any current site issues is a powerful communication tool. Likewise, having an up-to-date drone map helps distribute information efficiently, even among large teams. Streamline the decision-making process by referencing a drone map any time changes need to be made to a project.

If I need a contractor to be aware of a design change before he lays pipe, I simply walk over to him with my tablet, blow up a particular section of overlaid plans and show him exactly what he needs to know. I have it all in a PDF, so I can pencil in the new route of the pipe right there in front of him and then send the information over to the engineers. This cuts out weeks of back and forth and boils it all down to less than an hour.

The McCarthy Map Wall

McCarthy Building Companies uses drones in many high-tech ways, but at the end of the day, “paper is still the common denominator for jobsites,” says Field Solutions Manager Ryan Moret.


McCarthy Building Companies’ Drone Map wall improves internal communication across teams with aerial maps to document site progress over time.

On every McCarthy site, the wall of the job trailer is covered with weekly drone maps posted in sequence, giving anyone who walks into the room a clear picture of the project’s progress over time, as well as a snapshot of any current issues on the site.

The trades love it, being able to walk up to the wall and see nine weeks of construction photos. They pull these up in every sub meeting, every owner meeting. We have data from that week to show contractors, ‘Hey, the site’s a mess, you guys need to go clean it up.’ You can see rebar spread out all over the place, so there’s no arguing. They see it for what it’s worth.

Getting Started with Drones on Your Jobsite

Like what you see? Have more questions about getting started with drones on your jobsite? Learn more by downloading our free guide to drones in construction. Read the eBook to get a comprehensive look at how you can put drones to work, create instant ROI, and set up a drone program at your company.

Where to Learn More

  • If you’d like to learn more about how drones can make a difference on your construction project, watch our Drones in Construction webinar, Part 1 and Part 2, and Part 3.
  • Learn more about scaling your construction drone program in our recent post featuring McCarthy Construction.
  • Looking for an all-inclusive construction mapping package? DroneDeploy recently partnered with DJI to develop a turnkey drone mapping solution for the construction industry.
  • Learn more about comparing design plans and drone maps with our new overlay tool.
  • Find out how drones are improving safety on commercial jobsites in this post.
  • Once you’re ready to get started, our construction onboarding is a great place to begin.