Mapping the skies: GIS Team Takes Droning to New heights in Aerial Adventures

18th December 2023

The GIS Team at Outscape (Neil Brannigan and Emma Taylor) can normally be found indoors, behind a wall of screens, data and maps, in what is their natural habitat. However, in a rare turn of events, they recently enjoyed a day out in the field with John Hewitt (Geolytical and Outscape Board member).  

Neil has been developing a new GIS strategy for the organisation, incorporating measures to enhance both day-to-day GIS, as well as more advanced operations. Who better to help with the strategy than John Hewitt, who has been involved with Outscape for many years, sharing his expert knowledge on projects such as the GreenspaceNI Map. One element of the strategy is the use of drones within the organisation and after providing the staff with a drone training session, John was keen to show the possibilities that lie ahead. Despite being planned weeks in advance, the weather looked good and conditions were perfection for surveying, allowing the desk-dwellers a cool and sunny December morning to venture outside. Once a suitable location was established, Fiona Milne (Place Shaper) accompanied John, Neil and Emma, giving her perspective on what the desired outcomes from drone surveys could be for the Place Shaping team, as well as her knowledge of the site and the project. Three surveys took place with the aim of providing high quality data of inaccessible land to inform a trail feasibility study. The first survey set the bar high for a successful day, returning over 200 images and the creation of a 3D model of St. Patrick’s Monument. The following two surveys required more of an adventure (with landowner permission) due to the landscape and the area being surveyed, but were also very successful. Four pairs of muddy boots emerged victorious from the field with over 500 images being captured and ready for post processing in the office, after a cup of tea of course.  

This is hopefully the first of many drone surveys that will be carried out by Outscape, and will help elevate the effectiveness of the outputs produced.