Research leaders meet to discuss the future of drone data management

April 1, 2024

The use of scientific data collected from flying drones is proliferating at a fast pace. Valued for their low-cost and flexibility, drone data is seeing enormous uptake across many industries and fields of study. The view from above provided by drone imagery has opened up new insights and opportunities across agriculture, geology, construction, mining, forest and wildfire management, and disaster response. As thousands of groups across the globe take to the skies, the workflow of collecting, analyzing, and sharing drone data is largely ad hoc and lacks community standards. This results in poor collaboration, minimal data sharing, and high entry cost for researchers wanting to adopt the technology. 

In November 2023, Drs. Tyson Swetnam and Jeffrey Gillan, researchers at the University of Arizona, received a TRIF supported 18th mile grant from the UArizona Office for Research, Innovation, and Impact. The grant program serves as seed funding for research aligned with the 4th Industrial Revolution. With the funding, Swetnam and Gillan organized a drone summit at Biosphere 2 in Oracle, AZ on March 27-28, 2024 to address some of the challenges associated with drone data. A select group of researchers in geospatial science and computing discussed every aspect of the drone data lifecycle to find common problems to tackle together. The output of the drone summit will be forthcoming proposals focused on cloud computing solutions, metadata standards, and platforms for sharing drone data. 

Attendees at the drone summit:

  • Tyson Swetnam - Director of Open Science at ICDI, University of Arizona
  • Jeffrey Gillan - Research Data Scientist, Cyverse, Data Science Institute, University of Arizona
  • Chris Schnaufer - R & D Software Engineer, CCT Data Science, University of Arizona
  • Kristina Reimer - Director of Data Science, ALVSCE Communications & Cyber Technologies, University of Arizona
  • Erin Trochim - Research Asst. Professor, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Peter Webley - Associate Director for Research, Alaska Center for UAS Integration 
  • Samapriya Roy - Senior Product Manager, Maxar
  • Tristan Goulden - Remote Sensing Lead Research Scientist, Battelle, NEON
  • Dave Durden - Research Scientist, Battelle/NEON
  • Viswanath Nandigam - San Diego Supercomputing Center, Director of Cyberinfrastructure at Open Topography 
  • Chris Crosby - Director of Operations and Strategy at Open Topography, EarthScope
  • Jinha Jung - Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, Purdue University
  • Esteban Pineda - Director of Innovation, Improving Aviation LLC
Tina L. Johnson