DJI Drones And Site Scan Software Improve Workflows At £7bn Development

DJI Drones And Site Scan Software Improve Workflows At £7bn Development

The £7bn Brent Cross Town development in North London is benefiting from DJI drones and Esri UK's Site Scan software - improving efficiency, site-wide communication and decision-making.

Last updated: Jan 17, 2022

5 minute read

  • Major London development benefiting from DJI drones and Esri UK's Site Scan software;
  • Software transforming drone data into valuable digital assets, such as 3D point clouds and 360-degree aerial panoramas of the site;  
  • These assets are streamlining and improving groundwork surveys and scheme-wide communication; 
  • Software also being used to plan and manage flights, making the drone programme more coordinated and easier to manage;
  • heliguy™ has partnered with Esri UK to offer an end-to-end workflow for the AEC industry. 

A £7bn development in North London is benefiting from DJI drones and GIS software - improving efficiency, site-wide communication and decision-making.

Brent Cross Town, a joint venture between Argent Related and Barnet Council, is combining unmanned aircraft - including the Phantom range - and the Site Scan drone flight management and image processing software from Esri UK.

The software is being used to create 3D point clouds, textured meshes, video and 360-degree panoramas - utilising data collected from drone imagery.



These digital assets enable highly accurate and consistent updates to be shared amongst all stakeholders as the development progresses, and increase the speed and safety of groundworks surveys, such as stockpile volume calculations.

Lily Wydra, GIS, Land and Property Manager at Argent Related, said: "Deploying drones and Site Scan at Brent Cross Town has streamlined how we carry out surveys, visualise large-scale developments and communicate site progress."

The case study was shared during a joint speech between Esri UK, heliguy™'s GIS lead Ben Sangster (pictured below), Argent LLP and Galldris Services Ltd at Digital Construction Week. heliguy™ has partnered with Esri UK to offer the AEC industry a comprehensive package of hardware, training and software. 


Drone Surveys Enable More Consistent And Efficient Site Progress

A new park town for both Barnet and London, Brent Cross Town is an ambitious new neighbourhood spanning 180 acres, incorporating 50 acres of parks and playing fields.

Delivering 6,700 new homes and 3m sq ft of office space for 25,000 employees, the town will be a major new office destination. New and sustainable transport links, a high street, local amenities, services and world-class sports facilities are also part of the scheme.



Previously, drone surveys were commissioned to third parties on an ad-hoc basis, with outputs defined by the business purpose they were satisfying, such as project management, logistical planning, marketing or legal.

However, the Brent Cross Town team wanted to create a more consistent and efficient method of monitoring site progress and make the overall drone programme easier to manage.

Lily Wydra, GIS, Land and Property Manager at Argent Related, said: “Before Site Scan, we had no pre-existing software specifically for planning flights or managing and processing drone imagery outputs. Now we have a consistent framework for managing all flights through our supply chain, processing images, creating high quality geospatially-enabled outputs and disseminating them to multiple stakeholders.

"As a cloud-based service, Site Scan also means we can work seamlessly with contractors, such as civil engineering contractor Galldris Services Ltd, who we’ve currently requested to carry out drone survey work.”

The drone team at Galldris has been regularly flying drone surveys with its fleet of DJI drones and using Esri Site Scan under Argent’s operator licence, since March 2021. This includes planning flights through the software.



Galldris has also been helping to maintain part of the network of GCPs (Ground Control Points) to aid in the auto-georeferencing of drone imagery.

The team now processes monthly drone outputs to support internal operations and delivers them to Argent who utilise and disseminate them through a collection of ArcGIS Online maps and apps.

Outputs include 3D point clouds which have been helping construction managers, technical teams and contractors understand how changes in site topography will impact the site and for performing volumetric calculations, on how much earth needs to be excavated and removed.



Meanwhile, video, static images and 360-degree panoramas have been used to provide project teams, investors and the public with engaging visual updates on construction progress and by legal teams when working on leases with potential tenants.



Wydra added: "Site Scan has enabled us to create a formalised and repeatable approach for generating digital drone outputs, irrespective of the survey provider, which is also proving to be more cost effective than commissioning one-off surveys.

"Drone usage is increasing so having a scalable framework to manage flights and streamline the integration of data captured into GIS, BIM and CAD workflows is proving invaluable. Ultimately, better drone outputs support a better data-driven decision-making process.”

Transforming Construction Workflows With Site Scan

Site Scan connects seamlessly with Argent Related’s enterprise GIS, Esri ArcGIS and is already enriching geospatial datasets.

Drone data can be quickly published into ArcGIS Online to enhance pre-existing online maps, including those on-site or shared with Barnet Council, who has started to publish some data layers in its Masterplan.

The regular drone surveys also proved invaluable for monitoring progress remotely during COVID-19 lockdowns, when site access was limited. They also provided other insights, such as site elevation throughout the build, as the below image shows.



Brent Cross Town is the first Argent Related project where Site Scan has been deployed but the developer business is planning to use it at other major developments, including King’s Cross and Tottenham Hale, as the demand for drone data increases.

Wydra said: "Engineering is a precise school of activity and drones are a relatively new part of the workflow but now they are working alongside tried and tested engineering practices and surveying activities.

"Site Scan is helping to build a more coordinated and efficient way of managing our drone programmes and will soon move to other developments as we scale it across the business.”

heliguy™ Partners With Esri UK For End-to-End Workflows

Drone specialist heliguy™ has partnered with Esri UK to complete an end-to-end drone solution for the AEC industry.

The alliance provides a comprehensive aerial surveying drone workflow, bringing together heliguy™'s multi-faceted drone industry approach of consultancy, hardware supply, pilot training (including GIS), and in-house repairs and R&D, with Esri’s existing flight planning, data capture, data processing and GIS software - centered on Site Scan for ArcGIS.

The partnership is designed to offer a compelling solution to large AEC organisations looking for integrated and scalable drone programmes.

It aims to streamline current processes, from drone management and data capture, through to better sharing of outputs across a business and integration with BIM and CAD workflows.

For more information, speak to our in-house GIS specialists


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