SolSpec 2019 in Review

SolSpec 2019 in Review

 

2019
February 20

Engineering Team Moves Downtown to Novel

Engineering Team Moves Downtown to Novel

We started outgrowing the garage in Golden! The engineering team is the first group to move to the temporary offices at Novel Coworking downtown Denver, and the others will follow later in the year. 

March 20

Rest of SolSpec Team Moves Downtown

Rest of SolSpec Team Moves Downtown

The engineering team got settled in just in time for the rest of the SolSpec team to join them at the Novel offices downtown Denver! 

May 8

SolSpec Proud to Support Ropin’ Rascals

SolSpec Proud to Support Ropin’ Rascals

The team at SolSpec was proud to partner with the Huwa Enterprises companies and others to support the 2019 Ropin’ Rascals event! Ropin’ Rascals is an annual one-day sponsored children’s charity event that takes place at the Huwa family cattle ranch in Northeast Colorado. Special needs children get to become cowboys and cowgirls for a day and develop skills and memories to last a lifetime.

 

Learn more about Ropin’ Rascals, including information on how to volunteer or join the event.

May 19

Toby Kraft Speaks at Summit for Reclamation and Construction

Toby Kraft Speaks at Summit for Reclamation and Construction

Toby Kraft spoke about “Playing Offense and Being Industry Advocates” with Duraroot’s Aaron DeJoia at the Summit for Reclamation and Construction. The annual Summit, hosted by Huwa Enterprises in Keenesburg, Colorado, is a unique conference where professionals come together to learn, share, and network with industry experts dedicated to protecting the environment.
 

 
Attend, sponsor, or exhibit at the 2020 Summit: usareclamation.com

June 25

Bryan Crowe on Pipeliners Podcast

Bryan Crowe on Pipeliners Podcast

Bryan Crowe discussed pipeline and right-of-way integrity with EnerSys Corporation CEO Russel Treat on Pipeliners Podcast. Pipeliners Podcast invites pipeline industry leaders to share insight and expertise, and gives listeners the chance to learn about the latest information in the field and hear great conversations. 

 

“Ground Movement and Pipeline Integrity with Bryan Crowe” was episode 81 for the podcast, and in their discussion Bryan and Russel went in-depth on soil movement, surface hydrology, and the impact of environmental hazards on safe and successful pipeline operations. Listen to the podcast episode to hear the full conversation!

 

July 15

West Moberly First Nations and SolSpec Canada Announce Joint Venture

West Moberly First Nations and SolSpec Canada Announce Joint Venture

Chief Roland Willson of West Moberly First Nations and Ryan Pelzel of SolSpec Canada (SOC) announced the establishment of the West Moberly SOC Joint Venture.

 

The West Moberly SOC Joint Venture was founded to pursue pipeline integrity business opportunities. WMFN and SOC share a fundamental dedication to respect, honesty, fairness, and integrity. Open communication is key to these values and our joint success, and just as West Moberly First Nations promotes openness and clarity in the community, SolSpec strives to increase transparency and improve the safety and efficiency of pipeline projects. Together we manifest our values and create real-world impacts for our respected clients and communities.

July 29

SolSpec Moves to Lakewood

SolSpec Moves to Lakewood

Our time at Novel had its ups and downs. Beautiful spaces, an ideal kitchen/coffee/keg situation, and a location that couldn’t be beat for downtown. But after more than a few rounds with debris falling from the ceiling and noxious fumes, and elevators that were either non-functional or that took 10 minutes to get to the bottom floor, prompting walks up nine flights of stairs, it’s fair to say we were ready to move.

A big part of the SolSpec team made the move to Lakewood a success. We were once again in a temporary space, but just down the hall from our future home. Rachel Toupin and Youssef Benchouaf went above and beyond to make the new offices a cozy and productive space.

 

September 3

InterDrone: Expo Hall in Las Vegas

InterDrone: Expo Hall in Las Vegas

The team had a great presence at InterDrone! Angie Woodmansee and Robert Blank had three days of conversations with people at the SolSpec booth in the expo hall. 

 

Also Angie was caught alone at the booth by a guy with his own media network asking for the one-minute pitch for SolSpec (Tugba was fixing some technical issues with the ipads that we were too busy to fix, she’s in the background). She’s only sharing this video in the spirit of showing everything we’ve done, and otherwise would make sure it never got more than the 43 views it’s had on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2AilTXaThA

September 4

InterDrone: Advancing Pipeline Safety

Toby Kraft and Todd Knapp from Hanging H presented as part of the Energy Inspection Enterprise track, with a talk titled “Advancing Pipeline Safety with Aerial Analytics and UAVs.” The response was extremely positive – people flooded the SolSpec booth after the talk and were motivated to learn more about what we do and what our excellent teams have produced.

 

See Toby’s InterDrone profile, and learn more about Toby and Todd’s presentation.

September 25

Bryan Crowe Interview Featured in Our Great Minds

bryan crowe our coo

Bryan Crowe’s interview with Our Great Minds was published under the Business/Industry Disrupters section. Here’s a snippet from the introduction: “Bryan is a great example of a young leader from the oil and gas industry that saw the advantages of digital transformation and IT modernization early on. He embraced it head on, and is now helping others like him embrace change, upskill teams and break down barriers to adopting technologies like UAVs, big data and AI to automate workflows for safer and much more efficient pipeline operations. Bryan is of the firm belief that digital transformation and modern technologies such as aerial analytics are enabling oil and gas companies to fully capitalize on the resources we have, be better stewards, and provide clean and dependable energy for the foreseeable future.”

 

Read the full interview!

October 23

Shale Insights in Pittsburgh

Bryan Crowe spoke at the Technology Showcase at Shale Insights, held in Pittsburgh. With only 5 minutes to cover the material, Bryan presented a detailed but succinct overview of SolSpec’s Right-of-Way Integrity Management (RIM) program.

 

Kat Kraft and Angie Woodmansee had great conversations with people at the SolSpec booth over the course of two days, and made valuable connections with both attendees and other exhibitors. The event was a great success – both the presentation and the booth presence resulted in new business for SolSpec!

 

Learn more about the Technology Showcase at Shale Insights: https://shaleinsight.com/technology-showcase-2/

Random thoughts about Pittsburgh: A much lovelier city than anticipated, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. One odd thing: while shopping for a few items for the booth (Halloween candy draws people in), Kat and Angie had a first encounter with a shopping cart escalator:

October 29

UAV Expo: SolSpec Booth in the Expo Hall

commercial uav attendees

Angie Woodmansee, Katrina Engelsted, Robert Blank, and Youssef Benchouaf had great conversations at the booth from the opening happy hour, which was supposed to be low-key (and we ended up with a very packed booth area and lots of interactions), through the end of the event!
commercial uav solspec attendance
commercial uav solspec attendance

October 29

UAV Expo: Energy Vertical Presentation

UAV Expo: Energy Vertical Presentation

Toby Kraft and Todd Knapp from Hanging H spoke on the Energy Vertical session at Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas. 

 

Learn more about the session and Commercial UAV Expo.

October 30

UAV Expo: SolSpec Product Preview Presentation

Youssef Benchouaf presented for SolSpec as part of the Product Preview Presentation at Commercial UAV Expo.

 

 

Learn more about the Product Preview Presentation and Commercial UAV Expo.

October 30

UAV Expo: SolSpec Wins Big at Pitch the Press

UAV Expo: SolSpec Wins Big at Pitch the Press

Robert Blank presented for SolSpec at the Commercial UAV Expo’s Pitch the Press. SolSpec’s team applied to participate, and we were selected as one of 15 out of over 40 applicants to make it to the final session. The 15 participants had the opportunity to give a 2-minute presentation, and based on Robert’s presentation we were selected as one of the top three winners that stood out from the crowd!

 

Here are some highlights from the Commercial UAV Expo Press Release: “Three companies were selected today as the winners of Pitch the Press at Commercial UAV Americas 2019: A2Z, Agrowing, and SolSpec. Their latest products, which were pitched to a panel of high-profile press representatives at the show, were deemed the most innovative and promising technology amongst a competitive group of 15 presenters…The panel selected [SolSpec] for its ability to take data and generate a useable, actionable report. Many solutions out there are gathering the data but provide little to no support with analyzing that data to provide actionable solutions. This solution was unique in that it packages that data into actionable items so that users can focus on what needs to get done. By not simply giving users a “data dump” they’ll be able to take a proactive approach that enables stakeholders to address issues before they become problems.”

 

Read the full press release to learn more.

November 1

SolSpec Awarded OGRC Grant to Develop Remote Reclamation Assessment Tool

oil pump north dakota

Thanks to Kat Kraft, John Norman, and Nathan Casler’s hard work, SolSpec has been awarded an OGRC Grant from North Dakota Industrial Commission. The proposed project, titled Development of Operational Aerial Analytics for Remotely Measuring Reclamation Success in North Dakota, will be carried out over a period of 16 months in collaboration with Whiting Petroleum Corporation. The primary goal of this project is to develop and validate a suite of automated analytics that bring remote reclamation assessment technology to operational capacity for industry, agencies, and the interested public of North Dakota. Along with Whiting, we will also collaborate on this project with our sister company Duraroot.

 

Read more about the grant on our blog!

 

November 11

Toby Kraft Presents at PLIMC

Toby Kraft spoke about risk management at the Pipeline Insurers Managers Conference (PLIMC). The goal of the talk was to educate representatives of insurance companies that are providers for oil and gas companies about the impact of aerial analytics on risk management.

November 14

John Norman Presents at North Dakota Energy Conference

John Norman Presents at North Dakota Energy Conference
John Norman presented “Redefining Pipeline Safety with UAS-Based Inspection Programs” at the North Dakota Energy Conference and Expo.
Learn more about the North Dakota Energy Conference and Expo: http://www.ndenergyconference.com/ema/DisplayPage.aspx?pageId=Agenda1
December 4

Team Climb at Earth Treks in Golden

Team Climb at Earth Treks in Golden

We have a few climbers in our midst, and the number may be increasing! Thanks to the efforts of Katrina Engelsted and Jacob Spurgin we had our first evening group climb with some of the SolSpec team. The brave people that joined them: Andrew Keohane and Angie Woodmansee. Hope to see more people the next time we go, it was a great experience and fun to do something together that’s so different from work!

 

Also, in case you’re wondering if your read on Katrina being a badass is correct:

 

December 4

SolSpec Welcomes Seth and Sam

SolSpec Welcomes Seth and Sam

We wrapped up 2019 with a big step forward – we now have a formal Sales Team! We welcomed Seth Tribbey and Sam Acheson, who bring invaluable sales, industry, and software product experience to our team.

December 6

SolSpec Settled in Lakewood Offices

SolSpec Settled in Lakewood Offices

After a lot of effort and hard work on the part of our contractors, the SolSpec team got to settle at last into our new home in the Lakewood offices!

After only a monthin the space, we couldn’t be more pleased. The area gets much more sunlight, and windows throughout the offices mean it’s usually bright. Our view overlooks downtown Denver, and while the smog cloud can sometimes be unsettling, it is stunning. The biggest improvement? We now have several conference rooms, so no one will catch us on the phone or holding meetings in the hallways or building break room anymore!

December 20

SolSpec Featured in a Variety of Publications

SolSpec Featured in a Variety of Publications

Thanks to the hard work and efforts of Heather Racicot, we’ve been featured in the following publications:

 

  • DroneLife
  • LiDAR Mag
  • LiDAR News
  • GIS User
  • Commercial Drone Professional 
  • Commercial UAV News
  • POB
  • Comercial UAV News
  • Commercial UAV
  • GISCafe
  • UAS Weekly
  • xyHt
  • Oil & Gas 360
  • Stonefort Group
  • Earth Imaging Journal
  • Sensors & Systems 
  • GIS Cafe
  • Geospatial World

 

December 20

SolSpec Joins Huwa Holiday Party

SolSpec Joins Huwa Holiday Party

Angie Woodmansee and Adam Dutko represented the SolSpec team at the annual Huwa holiday party! We deeply appreciate what the Huwas and everyone in Keenesburg have made possible for us, and we’re grateful for partnership, for the industry experience these partnerships bring, and to have a chance to come together and celebrate the holidays. An unexpected perk – gift bags of delicious steak from Huwa Ranch! Anyone who missed out can always head to their website and place an order!

December 30

First Analysis Complete with West Moberly Joint Venture

First Analysis Complete with West Moberly Joint Venture

Ryan Pelzel of SolSpec Canada reports that the first imagery analysis was completed under the West Moberly Joint Venture for TC Energy! The first stage of this project covered 181 km for the North Montney Mainline Project.

December 31

Bryan Crowe Keynote Speaker at INGAA Annual Meeting

Bryan Crowe Keynote Speaker at INGAA Annual Meeting

SolSpec COO Bryan Crowe was invited as the keynote speaker to the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America’s (INGAA) Steep Slope Construction Workshop. Bryan spoke on Right-of-Way Integrity Management, pipeline construction, and the impact of employing aerial analytics to identify safer routes, improve the efficacy of implemented best practices, and enhance monitoring success.

 

The invitation to speak came as a direct result of Bryan’s June 2019 discussion with Russel Treat on the Pipeliner’s podcast. Listen to their conversation on Ground Movement and Pipeline Integrity to learn more! Read more about Steep Slope Construction best practices, detailed in a report created in a collaboration of eight energy companies led by The Nature Conservancy.

 

New Gas Transmission Pipeline Rules Expand Risk Management with Tight Timeline

New Gas Transmission Pipeline Rules Expand Risk Management with Tight Timeline

In the aftermath of a natural gas pipeline explosion on September 9, 2010 in San Bruno, California, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) identified several concerns with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA’s) oversight of performance-based safety programs, and recommended that the Secretary of Transportation conduct an audit to address these concerns.

Pipeline safety in the U.S. and many other parts of the world relies on the regulatory concept of Integrity Management. Integrity Management programs – required by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)– stipulate how and where pipeline operators must identify, prioritize, assess, evaluate, repair, and validate the integrity of their pipelines that could, in the event of a leak or failure, endanger human health.

san bruno explosion

The San Bruno pipeline explosion killed eight people at 6:11 pm PDT on September 9, 2010.

Until recently, Integrity Management programs primarily focused on managing risks to human health in High Consequence Areas (HCAs), generally defined as areas along a pipeline in which 20 or more buildings intended for human occupancy could be significantly impacted in the occurrence of a pipeline failure. In other words, the buildings fall within the pipeline’s potential impact radius (see Figure 1). While the potential consequences of a pipeline accident are deemed higher within HCAs, nearly half of all pipeline accident-induced injuries, property damages, and fatalities have occurred outside of HCAs since the promulgation of Integrity Management rules.

Signaling an industry-wide move toward more comprehensive risk management, PHMSA released new rules on October 1, 2019 that expand Integrity Management programs for gas transmission pipelines beyond HCAs to include Moderate Consequence Areas (MCAs). MCAs are defined as areas along a pipeline in which 5 or more buildings intended for human occupancy are located within the pipeline’s potential impact radius in the event of a failure (down from HCAs’ 20-building threshold) (§ 192.3). Additionally, MCAs include sites where 4-or-more-lane arterial roadways are located within a pipeline’s potential impact radius.

medium consequence areas as defined by new PHMSA regulation

Figure 1. Example of how a pipeline’s potential impact radius and nearby structures interact to determine High Consequence Areas and Medium Consequence Areas where operators must implement Integrity Management programs. Wherever an MCA is identified, operators must conduct integrity assessments (§ 192.710) and reconfirm the pipeline segments’ Maximum Allowable Operating Pressure (MAOP) (§ 192.624).

 

According to the new rules, MAOP reconfirmations are required for all HCA and MCA pipelines segments that can accommodate inline inspection instruments and whose MAOP is equal to or greater than 30% of the pipeline’s specified minimum yield strength(§ 192.624).Operators must develop procedures for MAOP reconfirmation of qualifying MCAs by July 1, 2021.

The new rules present a tight timeline for compliance. If operators are to meet the deadline of producing MAOP reconfirmation procedures by mid-2021, they must immediately begin to identify the newly required MCAs – zones that operators have never needed to consider until now.The arc of policy is pushing the pipeline industry evermore toward risk abatement and stewardship of human health. SolSpec’s mission is to help industry efficiently align with and lead the trajectory toward safety and sustainability. SolSpec uses high-performance computing and artificial intelligence to empower operators with fast, meaningful data and analytics that set the bar for hazard identification and prediction, resource allocation, and risk management.

Traditional integrity management programs focus on the integrity of the pipeline; yet, a pipeline’s safety also depends on the stability of its surrounding environment. The Right-of-Way Integrity Management solution addresses external threats to pipelines for a more complete integrity program. The RIMSpec’s annual subscription includes access to high-fidelity terrain and orthomosaic libraries through SolSTAC, access to the SolSpec viewer and deliverables in the form of risk prioritization, monitoring plans, emergency response plans, and analytic layers.

Policy Briefing: Proposed Gas Gathering Line Rule Nears Finish Line

Policy Briefing: Proposed Gas Gathering Line Rule Nears Finish Line

In this post, we will take a look at how proposed regulations for gas gathering lines are marching toward the rulemaking finish line, signaling a moment to consider aerial technology to support compliance initiatives.

Executive Summary

Risks associated with gas gathering lines have increased in recent years.
PHMSA proposed gas gathering line rulemaking and recently sought input from the Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee (GPAC) for the development of the final rule.
GPAC recommended a set of minimum safety standards for gas gathering lines greater than 8.625 inches; detailed annual and incident-based reporting; and application of the potential impact radius (PIR) methodology for larger-diameter gas gathering lines.

stormwater management example
Planting vegetation is one of the many ways to mitigate the movement of earth on pipelines.

Gas Gathering Line Rulemaking

Gathering lines are pipelines used to transport oil or natural gas from the original site of production to another facility for further refinement or to transmission pipelines. Gathering operations have historically been low pressure, small-diameter systems that posed little risk to public safety and thus drew little regulatory oversight. In recent years, however, shale gas development has greatly increased the use of higher pressure, larger diameter gathering lines, and to date there are an estimated 91,000 miles of gathering pipelines that are unregulated in the U.S. These conditions combine to heighten the risks associated with gas gathering lines.

In response to statutory obligations and growing concerns regarding gathering lines, the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) proposed extensive rulemaking in 2016 titled Safety of Gas Transmission and Gathering Pipelines, also known as the “gas mega rule.” Since then, the sweeping proposal has been split into three separate rulemakings, one of which is dedicated to gas gathering lines.

The proposed gas gathering rule is now in the process of clearing its final rulemaking hurdles before taking effect. Among the milestones passed in this process was a recent review with recommendations by the Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee.

Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee Recommendations

The Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee (GPAC) is a statutorily-mandated committee that advises PHMSA on proposed gas pipeline safety standards and their associated feasibility and impacts. GPAC met in late June 2019 to discuss and provide PHMSA with feedback on its proposed gas gathering line rule. If PHMSA incorporates GPAC’s recommendations into the final rule, operators will be required to:

Follow a minimum set of requirements for gathering lines 8.625 inches in diameter and greater, including standards for design, construction, inspection, and damage prevention;
Submit specific location and causal information in incident report forms; and
Apply the potential impact radius (PIR) methodology to provide safety and environmental protections for larger-diameter gathering lines (i.e., greater than 12.75 inches).

GPAC also recommended a 24-month adjustment period for compliance with proposed annual reporting requirements.

What’s next?

With consideration given to GPAC’s recommendations, PHMSA is currently developing a draft of the final gas gathering line rule for internal review by the agency and the Department of Transportation (DOT). Next, the draft final rule will be reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget before being approved and published. The DOT anticipates the final rule to take effect in mid-2020.

As the new gas gathering line rule works its way toward the finish line, currently unregulated gathering line operators should proceed with a thorough review of forthcoming regulatory obligations and develop a sound strategy for ensuring compliance. Adopting an aerial imagery program with analytics built for midstream oil and gas will be a boon for compliance and working forward with regulatory agencies.

How Can Big Data Impact Land Reclamation?

How Can Big Data Impact Land Reclamation?

Toby Kraft, Founder and CEO of SolSpec, spoke about “Playing Offense and Being Industry Advocates” at the May 19, 2019 Summit for Reclamation and Construction. The annual Summit, hosted by Huwa Enterprises in Keenesburg, Colorado, is a unique conference where professionals come together to learn, share, and network with industry experts dedicated to protecting the environment.

“So as all good millennials do, I wake up every single day and spend every waking hour engaging with some social media platform,” Kraft opened, introducing the value of big data by drawing a common big data comparison with the advertising world. Social media platforms store extensive information related to their users’ interests, and the massive amount of data generated by millions of users drives much of the backbone of modern marketing.

Why let retail be the main industry that capitalizes on big data? Why aren’t the construction and reclamation and energy industries taking advantage of big data for their projects? These are the questions at the core of Toby’s presentation. Collecting data and providing information from past and current projects can build benefits for all – we can learn from the mistakes others have made and drive future success. “A lot of you are probably thinking ‘Yeah, okay, that sounds utopian,” quipped Kraft.

Big data can empower decision makers in the construction, energy, and reclamation industries and result in safer, more successful projects. But success can only come from working together to improve our industries’ practices. Kraft called on his colleagues at the Summit to remember that “our neighbor’s failure or our competitor’s failure is our failure.” Collaborating and building databases of geographic information doesn’t weaken your company or strengthen the opposition. Uniting our data and sharing information is the approach that will keep our industries strong, because without it our future work is threatened.

Kraft’s vision with SolSpec is not just to identify hazards that already exist. Combining data gathered regarding surface hydrology, soil information, geologic details, and the massive stores of siloed data that runs across the industry and third parties makes it possible to predict future hazards. A prioritized list of current and potential hazards empowers decision makers to prioritize mitigation efforts and resources, and do better work for long-term success and improved community relations.

Diving into real-life scenarios, Kraft highlighted for the audience the value and impact of data-driven solutions in land reclamation and construction. One example was Appalachia, one of the richest areas in natural gas in North America. Recent construction of infrastructure, more in the last five years than in the previous fifty, has resulted in loss of vegetation in deciduous forests. These forests and unconsolidated soils cover the characteristic steep slopes of the region. Big rainstorms in this context can cause mass soil movement and landslides, which compromise local pipelines and assets. Compromised pipeline and right-of-way integrity cause undue risk, environmental damage, and financial loss.

Another example Kraft discussed was California, which is dealing with increased threats from fires. Last year’s Camp Fire burned 150,000 acres, destroyed the city of Paradise, and killed 46 people. The likely cause of the fire was a spark from a utility asset that caught the vegetation near the asset. Data gathered from flyovers and processed with analytics can reveal vegetation encroachment. That information can help direct fire prevention efforts around existing utilities and stop a destructive disaster.

“What could the headlines look like a year from now if we all come together around these issues and we get ahead of it and we play offense? What could the future look like?” asked Kraft. Fewer disasters, increased efficiency, prioritized use of resources, and improved reputations for our industries. To learn more about how Kraft and the team at SolSpec are taking our industries to the cutting edge, go to https://solspec.io.

If you’re interested in attending, sponsoring, or exhibiting at the 2020 Summit, go to www.usareclamation.com for more information.

SolSpec Launches Landslide Prediction Models to Help Prevent Pipeline Explosions

SolSpec Launches Landslide Prediction Models to Help Prevent Pipeline Explosions

For oil and gas pipeline companies, a quick look at recent news shows the potential danger landslides hold for their industry with the recent threats due to Hurricane Florence and an actual pipeline explosion caused by a landslide in Beaver, Pennsylvania, which destroyed one home, shot flames 150 feet in the air, and caused many families to be evacuated. This leaves the obvious question of how to prevent landslides? The good news is cutting-edge technology can deliver landslide prediction models that are both highly accurate and cost-effective.

Enter SolSpec, an aerial analytic company who deliver slip potential reports that are easy to understand and can be trusted. With a history of industry-proven results, the enthusiasm surrounding their services is high and rising, especially with the wake of Florence, where there are now threats of landslides up and down the east coast and slip potential reports are in high demand.

pipeline explosion near PA

A firefighter trying to settle the pipeline explosion in PA.

“We understand that landslides can cause potentially catastrophic pipeline integrity issues. The good news is these issues can be addressed and prevented through proactive monitoring,” commented Robert Blank, of SolSpec. “Our landslide prediction models are seeing such rapid adoption because oil and gas companies are making a big push for quality construction by contractors. This push for quality construction is driven by an emphasis on environment and safety. We pride ourselves on being experts in this field, and both the explosion in Beaver and Hurricane Florence show the real need for our solutions. We firmly believe there is no solution that compares with what we offer in providing predictive models as well as post-storm slip mitigation, landslide mitigation, or landslide prediction models.”

According to SolSpec, they take a multi-tiered approach when looking at the landslide potential of an area. This includes using aerial imagery taken by the best drones outfitted with cameras and sensors, soil data which is combined with the imagery to predict landslide activity, and expert human knowledge regarding the nature of these potentially disastrous events. All of this data is compiled and run through SolSpec’s advanced slip potential algorithm. After successfully detecting and identifying nearly 1,000 slips, the company is using historical data to train their algorithms to further increase the accuracy of their predictive models. This is then analyzed over time to monitor for change, so landslide potential can be identified much earlier and more accurately than could be seen by the naked eye of even an expert.

SolSpec has compared their results, which are 85% accurate to those of others in the industry, finding SolSpec is a clear leader. This has been confirmed in-field by numerous client assessments, all of whom have been more-than-pleased with the firm’s services.

The company also offers the SolSpec Viewer which is software that delivers 2D and 3D views of potential danger areas, allowing oil and gas pipeline companies to respond or prepare accordingly.

SolSpec experts are always available to discuss potential projects and possible solutions with companies considering using their services or already existing clients who need more information. They take great pride in making customer communication and service a top priority.

How Aerial Imaging Services and Mapping Solutions are Changing the Way We Work

How Aerial Imaging Services and Mapping Solutions are Changing the Way We Work

In recent years, aerial imaging services have evolved tremendously. Now, thanks to drones and aerial sensor technologies, it’s easier than ever to get a birds’ eye view from above. The industries that have benefitted most from the advancements of aerial imaging services are those who rely on mapping solutions, such as the oil and gas pipeline industry or environmental consulting firms. Below is a breakdown of some of the more recent mapping solutions now accessible to these companies.

Advancements in Photogrammetry

Drones are incredible tools capable of capturing high-resolution images from the air. By using a technique called photogrammetry, multiple images can be stitched together to create a 2D map or 3D model of the site. Because all images captured are associated with a precise GPS reading from the drone’s onboard computer, these stitched maps make it easy to identify the exact location of features on the maps.

Now, companies are using drone mapping services to gain access to locations previously inaccessible. For example, if there was a location – perhaps a sensitive wetland – that was inaccessible by foot, companies would have to rely on outdated, low-resolution satellite imagery, or send a crew out on foot to inspect the area. This often resulted in unreliable or incomplete information about the area of interest.

But thanks to drones, companies can now capture reliable information through non-invasive means, more safely and at a lower cost. They can view their project at any stage with crystal-clear accuracy, as drones provide high-definition photos and maps. This allows companies to make more precise measurements using photogrammetry tools, saving them both time and money. With highly accurate maps and the ability to make precise measurements, companies can invest in preventative measures as opposed to reactionary ones.

Plus, when it comes to aerial imaging services, drones are much more flexible and readily available than planes. This allows more companies to have access to photogrammetric services. What a company may not have once been able to afford is now quite reasonable.

UAV Mapping Services Protect Employees and Projects

Job sites can often be hazardous environments. Before UAV mapping services became available, company employees would have to perform inspections and surveys in hazardous areas manually, potentially putting themselves at risk. Now, companies can keep their employees out of harm’s way. By launching a drone from a nearby safe location companies and employees alike can rest easy knowing that aerial imaging increased safety while providing more accurate information.

Aerial imagery provides an affordable, safe way to monitor right of ways.

With efficiency as a core focus of most projects, finding novel ways to perform the same tasks at a lower cost while still achieving quality results is not easy. Because UAV mapping services are so efficient, it’s much easier and far more cost effective for companies to utilize these mapping services rather than paying multiple employees to perform a surveying job. With minimal training, a UAV pilot can successfully map or survey 100 acres in roughly 20 minutes, while it takes numerous employees hours, if not days to survey the same size area.

UAV mapping services can be completed by either an internal employee or a UAV aerial imaging services company can be contracted for the project. Many believe that these services are expensive or that they will need to hire and train their own employees to operate the drone, but this is not the case. With the number of third-party UAV mapping services companies growing by the day, businesses can take advantage of increasingly competitive pricing.

UAV mapping services also help prevent surprises. There’s nothing worse than when employees visit a job site only to discover that an accident has occurred or that the site is simply not as they expected. When these issues or unexpected events occur, companies must halt operations to determine the best way to address and solve the problem quickly. With UAV mapping solutions, companies can minimize unknowns, find and address issues more quickly and keep their operations running smoothly with a clear scope of work and directive for their workers.

Drone 3D Mapping

As drones have advanced, so too has the software that supports these aerial mapping platforms. A perfect example of this is seen with the rise of drone 3D mapping software. Many industries are taking advantage of 3D mapping due to the ever-increasing number of use cases for this information. Thanks to drones, the following industries have adopted aerial imaging as a cornerstone of their project success:

  • Construction
  • Land Surveying
  • Mining
  • Inspection
  • Land Development
  • Forestry
  • Agriculture
  • Emergency Management

When paired with only a few traditional survey points, aerial imagery can deliver the best of both worlds by providing sub-centimeter accuracy with robust 2D maps and 3D models. These comprehensive 3D renderings are not only as accurate as traditional survey methods, but cover 100% of the survey area. Instead of relying on scattered individual survey points, these high-accuracy aerial maps paint a crystal-clear picture of the project area. By pairing accurate information with context gained from the imagery, companies are able to plan for projects more effectively, execute efficiently and handle emergency response situations when they arise.

Most drones are designed to complete a broad range of general mapping tasks. These drone platforms are generally outfitted with high-quality RGB (red, green, blue) cameras very similar to what you might find in a camera or smartphone. For less than $2,000, the Phantom 4 Pro by DJI is one of the most capable and commonly used platforms for mapping. For more specialized tasks, different sensors can be utilized. These sensors range from near-infrared to LiDAR to leak detection sensors for hazardous gases. What was once cost-prohibitive or inaccessible a few years ago is now cheaper and easier to use than ever.


Using analytics, we can assess where there is potential for geohazard activity, like a landslide.

Thanks to software platforms like the SolSpec Aerial Analytics Engine, companies can now gain more information about their projects in an easy-to-understand way. After a mapping mission is flown, the images are uploaded for processing which will output high-resolution maps in a matter of hours. These maps contain an incredible amount of information that is often difficult for humans to analyze without the aid of a computer. SolSpec has created software that uses high-tech algorithms to analyze the imagery and produce reports that solve specific problems. With all of the legwork done and a report in-hand, companies can focus their efforts on what they do best: Getting the job done on time and under budget.

SolSpec’s software features built-in aerial data analytics tools, giving clients actionable results fully integrated into the map view, which is as easy to use as Google Earth. Currently, SolSpec’s analytics are tailored to meet the specific needs of the oil & gas industry. However, the SolSpec Viewer works equally well for a wide range of enterprise customers, such as mining, utilities, and civil construction. SolSpec has plans to grow their analytics software suite to service these industries as well in the near-term.

The technology and applications for aerial mapping solutions have matured rapidly in only 5 years’ time and will continue to grow exponentially as more applications and use cases are discovered for aerial imagery. For more information about the ways that drones are helping companies protect themselves, minimize environmental impacts and increase the safety and integrity of the infrastructure around us, contact us for a few consultation.