I had a conference call with a property owner while both of us were viewing aerial video of the property taken from a low flying drone. It was a cost effective way of resolving some technical issues about the property without a day long trip plus time on site.
I took the video earlier during my forensic investigation of a problem there. While analysing the video I concluded I had found key evidence relevant to the problem. But like all air photo interpretation, ground-proofing was in order – get boots on the ground and your hands dirty confirming what you thought you saw. This is a basic technique in civil engineering and terrain analysis.
I mailed a CD of the video to the property owner, then called and asked the owner to load the video on a computer, go to a certain frame on the video – easy to do with a counter at the bottom of the video – and tell me why the site looked the way it did at that location. The owner did that and confirmed my interpretation of the surface conditions there – plus added to the significance of the evidence with some history of that part of the site.
It truly was a windfall of data got during a conference call with my client while each of us viewed the video. Who would have guessed made possible with a drone – a device that may have started life as a simple toy flown by kids in backyards? (Ref. 1)
I’ve since thought about splitting computer screens and Skyping on one screen with my client while viewing aerial video on the other. Just now I’m realizing I can examine anything on a split screen with a client while Skyping with him/her on another.
We then “toured” the rest of the property via the aerial video and confirmed the location of other features relevant to the problem. I had seen these features on site but wanted to hear the client talk about them. Surprisingly, another feature of the site was noted that was not so evident on the ground nor in the video. It also was evidence relevant to my client’s problem.
So, all in all, quite a conference call. There’s no question this method has gone into my arsenal of forensic engineering investigative methods. A method that will also reduce the cost of civil litigation.
- Bartlett, P.Eng., Gary. Wellington, Nova Scotia. Private communication