June 2018 2nd Edition

Monitoring infrastructure through drone techonogy

Cutting-edge technology adds a new dimension to monitoring service delivery.

Officials of the DID test flying the drone which is planned to make the monitoring of infrastructure programmes more effective.The construction process of building schools, clinics or libraries will be monitored by the use of a drone thanks to a new initiative launched by the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (DID).

Chief Director of the Infrastructure Research and Planning Division Amanda Moletsane (33) is the young lady who is leading the pack in the implementation of the drone project.

She said including cutting- edge technology with service delivery adds a new dimension to the monitoring capability of the DID.

“When we came up with this project we were looking at how we could deliver in a timeous, cost-effective and more efficient manner when monitoring our projects around the province.”

Moletsane and her team started piloting the drone programme in January this year and selected 63 projects including clinics, schools and community centres to test the use of the a drone to monitor a construction project.

The drone has a camera and feeds live video and images to a remote controlor a mobile phone which can be used remotely. This means an operator can film a construction project to check developments and possible problems.

“The drone checks if there were people on site and if there is equipment and material for the work to be done. It would also give feedback on how far the project is in its completion.” 

She added that it cost her division about R55 000 to purchase the drone, train one of her team members to be a drone pilot adhere to South African Civil Aviation Authority regulations to drone operation.

Moletsane said it usually cost government about R2 million to monitor infrastructure projects in the department.

“On average, for officials to physically go to the site to monitor the progress of work they need to drive about 30 to 40 kilometres for one project. To manage a fleet of government cars costs about R2 million. The use of a drone is cost-effective and efficient.”

She also said when her team was looking at implementing the programme it was looking for something innovative that would keep up with current technological monitoring avenues in the construction industry.

The drone is housed at the DID’s nerve centre, at Lutsinga Infrastructure House.

DID MEC Jacob Mamabolo said the new intervention essentially combines human intelligence, business intelligence and now artificial intelligence to ensure that the entire value chain of project delivery is efficient and that projects are delivered on time, within cost and at the right quality.  

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