Can drone technology turn around the fortunes of the construction sector in SA?



30-10-2018
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Bizcommunity.com
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Drone technology can turn around the fortunes of the construction sector, Gauteng Infrastructure Development MEC Jacob Mamabolo said on Monday, 29 October. Updating the media on progress made since the launch of the programme on 21 May, Mamabolo said drone technology can address challenges such as cost and quality issues.

Since the initial launch in May, the Department of Infrastructure Development (DID) has acquired an additional four drones bringing its fleet to five.

“We have one drone per region because since the launch we have taken position, that drones can make infrastructure delivery efficient and effective,” said Mamabolo.

Head of department Bethuel Netshiswinzhe said the sector has historically been a rigid and averse to change. Through drone technology, the DID is able to monitor building projects such as new schools, clinics, libraries and hospitals, among others.

“[Through the] work we are doing, we are trying to build a department that can sustain service delivery,” said Mamabolo, adding that government can be efficient.

He stressed that by improving the work of the department, the quality of life for residents will also improve.

“We still don’t have effective, efficient way of delivering infrastructure.”

The drone programme is a partnership between the DID and the University of Johannesburg which resulted in the department signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the university in July to accelerate the delivery of public infrastructure through smart technologies.

Addressing media at a media briefing held at the Emoyeni Conference Centre in Johannesburg, Mamabolo said the objective of the partnership, is to build on infrastructure delivery analytics capability that uses drone data to monitor progress against plans, monitor the use of materials on site and project governance and safety controls.

Capabilities of the drones include 3D technology where through the drone, the DID can monitor and verify site activity without officials being on site through high quality transmission technology that allows high definition video streaming.

“Capabilities include a 3D model. We will be making it official policy where everybody that works with DID, our professionals, they will have to join us in leveraging smart technologies. The 3D technologies embedded in the drone gives us the opportunity to check and verify site activity,” he said.

Through the technology, the department is able to check whether construction on site is in accordance with architectural designs.

Through the drone technology the department can also ensure that “every cent is accounted for” thereby also contributing to the fight against corruption.

“Once we bring in transparency, openness into construction sites, we are able to see what exactly is going on.”

Mamabolo said government is of the view that infrastructure can turn around gross domestic product (GDP) rates while also creating much needed jobs.

“We must build capacity of the state, we will demonstrate. We are going to make it a policy that everyone who works with us will need to deliver all drawings to us in 3D models so we can track cost, quality and time beyond dispute.”

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