Drone saving money for city of Carson

Published: Nov. 30, 2016 at 6:33 PM PST
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As the use of drones increases, Carson City is one of the latest agencies to buy one. The city’s public works department has found using its new drone saves money while allowing for a better survey of the county’s assets.

The department’s drone pilots are authorized under FAA Regulations Part 107, which allows for the commercial use of drones under certain circumstances.

"It is a lot easier than sending a guy up on top of that tower," said James Jacklett, an Operations Manager for the Carson City Public Works Department.

The drone and its onboard camera allow the public works department to get a better view of county assets. Instead of sending someone up a tower, for example, a drone can take pictures that can later be evaluated on a computer's screen.

"This tower is 100 feet tall. I can cover the entire tower in a matter of minutes and take those pictures back inside where I'll be able to look at them," said Jacklett.

Flying a drone is safer and cheaper than flying a plane or hiring some sort of hands-on inspector. The drone also offers a wealth of data.

"We want to make data-driven decisions. The ease that we are able to collect data and then process it in order to make decisions increases our efficiency and ultimately helps us make better use of tax dollars."

The $1,500 setup has already paid for itself in the flights it has done. So far it has been used to survey material piles, inspect solar panels and monitor the progress of Carson's new wastewater treatment plant.

"Additional eyes on the project, additional status updates, are really valuable to that size of a project," said Danny Rotter, Carson City Engineer

“We are able to survey large areas of, for instance, 50 acres, in approximately 12 minutes, followed up with less than an hour of office time, and come up with a results that historically would have taken days with people in the field surveying to acquire,” said Jacklett.