An impressive range of delegates from a who's who in the construction industry packed the Bentley Systems venue to kick off the inaugural meeting of the COMIT Drone Community. It promised to deliver on a wide range of topics and issues and it did not disappoint.
A Summary of Proceedings
Leeds University’s presentation certainly showed the breadth and depth of drone usage with 3D printers repairing cracks in roads, drilling holes, aerial management of ground-based vehicles for collision avoidance and many other amazing things they are actually doing today! It certainly opened everyone’s eyes to what is achievable. And their biggest obstacle? “Regulation”.
Up stepped Bird and Bird showing their global legal aviation credentials. The breath and scope of the legal knowledge dispensed led one delegate to state “I knew there was a lot to Drone legislation.. but not that much!". Bird and Bird gently guided the audience around the past and present issues and gave a glimpse into future regulation. For those involved with UAV’s the content was invaluable and met with rapt attention from the audience.
To compliment that Marsh, the global insurance company with a dedicated aviation division, treated us to the delights of cyber security in terms of the potential liabilities and how to insure against them. If - like me - you have never considered cyber security insurance then this is where you sit up and take notice. It is something that is relatively new in the insurance market but more and more construction companies are taking it up. The in-and -outs are complex, but suffice to say it is ignored at your peril.
After a short break, Thames Tideway gave a frank and honest assessment of the process of writing a RAMS (Risk Assessment Method Statement) for a Drone on this prestigious project. It is sobering to note that it had taken over six months to produce a comprehensive draft.
The lessons shared were a godsend to those aspiring to use drones in a construction environment with all the attendant health and safety implications. It was a refreshing session and one that re-enforced the community’s aim to share its knowledge and experiences for the advancement of drones in the industry.
Turning to another of the communities aims... standards. Most people would not normally associate Speedy with training, but this well known “hire” company surprised many with its innovative portfolio and its well established training arm. With ambitious plans for working with the community to deliver training and standards through a program designed by construction itself, at long last we may something that the industry can build upon.
The content-packed day ended with a change of tempo with a workshop to get everyone talking and discussing what they want the community to deliver. After all it is a community that is going to be designed by the construction industry for the drone construction industry. The purpose of the workshop was to seek a consensus on the priorities moving forward and COMIT will use the outputs from the workshop to determine the Drone Community's future agenda.
If an event is measured by a room full of enthusiasm and thought provoking discussion then this was a very success one!
Call to Action!
The meeting was a great success and we have received a number of messages of thanks from those that attended. We also owe a debt of gratitude to Bentley Systems who kindly hosted the event at their London offices.
Our only regret is that the meeting proved so popular that we were unable to accommodate everyone who wanted to attend. Rest assured we will be contacting those who failed to secure a place with details on how they can participate in future events!
We are in the process of creating at Core Group of organisations to drive the COMIT Drone Community forward. We will be contacting everyone who attended shortly with details on how to express their interest in joining.
And a final word from Gerry...
"My impression of COMIT's inaugural drone event is that it really took flight today. We had a range of inspired and knowledgeable speakers who covered so many important aspects: cyber insurance, the need for standards, clear legislation and training and the advantage of drones in the construction arena. It's a topical but also difficult multi-faceted subject. However, the enthusiasm and interest fed back from the delegates highlights that working together is the answer - only then can we can break down the barriers and fly!"