Council takes asset management to new heights with drone program
  • Wednesday 13 May 2020

There’s no job too big or too small when it comes to improving our region’s facilities – some say the sky’s the limit.

For the last five years, Sunshine Coast Council inspections have gone airborne using drones to help with a range of maintenance activities where jobs are dangerous, difficult or too hard to access.

Environment and Liveability Portfolio Councillor Peter Cox said using a bird’s-eye-view had become an innovative part of the everyday tool kit for our asset management team.

“While our staff have their feet firmly planted on the ground, it’s incredible to see how they use drones as their second set of eyes, to help asses our many public spaces to find out what kind of maintenance work is needed.

“The benefits are sky-high, we can maintain and expand the lifecycle of critical infrastructure like bridges and roads, and better manage pest and weed control, monitor habitats and species’ populations too.

Drones can also deliver high-resolution imagery and zoom into areas the naked eye can’t see clearly which helps maintenance crews determine where to focus their attention and resources.

“For example the Coastal Water Body team uses drones to look at a range of coastal management activities such as sand movement in the shore zone of Mooloolaba Spit.

“When it comes to keeping pesky mosquitos at bay, the team has turned away from using a blanket approach, instead they use drones to help narrow down specific treatment areas they can resourcefully target.

“During the trial and implementation of the nifty devices, it’s become very clear that programs like these are successfully assisting our employees do their jobs, by improving productivity, time and safety – which is paramount.”

Council is now investigating increased use of remote technology to respond to natural disasters. 

Local Disaster Management Coordinator Cathy Buck said the trial looked at how drones could be used immediately after a disaster.

“The way we respond and manage a disaster will remain the same,” Ms Buck said.

“However with the use of drones, we will be able to find affected areas quicker by sending a live feed to the disaster coordination centre.

“This means we are able to make better decisions with real-time information, see the extent of the damage on the ground and provide resources to those areas in a faster time frame, without risking our field volunteers and workers.

“These trials cement the role drones play within the facility, fleet and asset management teams and hopefully we will be adding disaster management to the list very soon.”

Council will continue to use drones, to expand the capabilities of field crews and provide learnings that can benefit our community and local governments in the long term.

Council uses drones under the CASA guidelines to ensure council officers comply with all relevant legislation and policies when using the device.