PwC establishes team of drone specialists with keen focus on national security issues

PwC has established a team of drone specialists in the UK to help clients take advantage of this emerging technology and extract value from drone data. PwC’s ‘Clarity From Above’ report found that drones have the potential to disrupt a variety of industries, estimating the market for current business services and labour that could be done by drones at over $127 billion globally. Industries with the best prospects for drone applications, such as infrastructure, agriculture and transport, will all be key focus areas for the new team.

The UK drones team will begin its tasks with six dedicated full-time employees in place, although there are plans to scale up that cohort. In addition, there are specialists embedded in each of PwC’s main business areas – namely assurance, tax, deals and consulting – as well as in particular sectors, such as power and the utilities, national security and construction. The UK firm has more than 2,100 technologists on its books and aims for drone data to become a ‘business as usual’ part of the insight it delivers to clients on a continual basis.

Elaine Whyte, UK drones leader at PwC, informed Risk UK: “We’re excited by the potential this technology has to offer, and foresee significant market growth in the coming years. Having spent 20 years as an engineer in the RAF, I have seen first-hand the benefits that an aerial view can bring in terms of situational awareness and added insight.”

Whyte continued: “The majority of organisations are still using drone data at project stage, rather than embedding the technology into their strategy. I firmly believe we’ll see drones becoming part of ‘business as usual’ within the next ten years. We’re already witnessing early adopters in large-scale capital projects using drone data to enhance insight into their investments, allowing for better control of building sites and creating that definitive ‘golden record’ of information.”

In addition, Whyte stated: “For UK organisations to really take advantage of this disruptive technology, it’s vital that we have the right standards and regulation in place. The recent move by the Government to announce the upcoming Drone Bill is positive and we’ll work closely with the Civil Aviation Authority and the Department for Transport to continue to help provide input as standards develop.”

Managing costs, controlling risks

Drones can help capture information from a new angle, gathering data quickly from hard-to-reach places with accuracy down to a few centimetres. They can make a crucial difference to clients in managing costs, controlling risks and improving safety. This offers businesses a powerful new perspective and a competitive edge.

The team at PwC will apply data analytics and machine learning techniques to the raw data collected by drones. This will be integrated with existing management information systems in order to provide comprehensive insights back to clients, for example, those with real estate portfolios, landscapes for development or large structures requiring maintenance monitoring.

The team will primarily assist clients in three main areas: asset maintenance and monitoring, capital projects and construction monitoring and strategic planning for deploying drone solutions across an organisation.

Jon Andrews, head of technology and investment at PwC, added: “Technology is central to our strategy. By combining our business understanding and services with investment in emerging technology, we’re developing innovative new ways in which to support our clients. Our drones team is the latest example of how we’re actively helping clients when it comes to embracing and responding to disruptive trends. The combination of our expertise in cyber security and data analytics with the drones team’s insight is at the very heart of how we will help businesses unlock the full potential of drones for their future success.”

PwC is already undertaking client work with drones, largely led out of a Centre of Excellence team operating in Poland. The Drones-Powered Solutions team was formed over four years ago and now has a cohort of around 50, taking advantage of the more expansive drone regulation over Poland.

About the Author

Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications)

Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting.

In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector.

In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute’s George van Schalkwyk Award.

An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award.

Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site.

Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media.

Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014.

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