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An Interview with Bobbi Antonucci

Check out this interview with Bobbi Antonucci, Systems Analyst of Horry County Schools, to see how they’re using technology, specifically drones, to help with natural disaster clean-up and more. She breaks down how to get affordable drones, how to use them and then process data from them. 

Show Notes:

Show Script:

Brian  
Welcome to the Operate Intelligently Podcast, the podcast for all things operations.

Greetings! We are coming to you on the final day of Dude University 2019. And joining me now is Bobbi Antonucci, Systems Analyst with Horry County Schools. Bobbi, welcome to the podcast.

Bobbi Antonucci  
Well, thank you very much.

Brian  
So tell us a little bit about what you do and your role.

Bobbi Antonucci  
I'm basically the technology person for facilities. So I'm responsible for administering all of the Dude Solutions products that we have, plus helping all the technicians with their iPads and their technology, etc. Plus, I have a background in data science. So a big piece of what I do is the analysis of the data afterwards, and how well we're performing how we're performing against other similar school systems, helping make the case that we need more people, we need more budget, whatever that story is that we need to make.

Brian  
And so we were talking a little bit earlier, and you had a great story that I kind of want to dig into around, you know, a natural disaster and how that kind of brought you to new technology. So could you kind of tell me, basically, the story behind what happened after Hurricane Matthew a few years ago.

Bobbi Antonucci  
In Hurricane Matthew, we lost part of a roof. And we did not have drones at that time. So we had to put a person on roof not knowing how safe that roof was. And when we did that, we like we're never doing this again. Yeah, this is this is just not a good thing to do. So we went out, and we looked at drones and what they could do for us. And we use DJI brand drones. They make 80% of the drones, commercial drones, the world a lot for cinematography, all kinds of things, but they have some very affordable drones. And so we purchased one of those. And it took a while for us to start using it because of certain things. And now we can if we have the same situation, go up, put a drone up there get visualization of what's there. Before we ever put anybody in a safety danger. Yeah. And that was so important to us is to not put somebody on an unstable roof.

Brian  
Yeah, I can imagine after, you know, a storm like that coming through, you know, you know, you can sometimes see there's possibly water coming through. So you know, there's some damage, but yeah, getting up on a roof like that afterwards as a risky business right there.

Bobbi Antonucci  
And we didn't know if there was any electrical openings. We didn't know. Yeah.

Brian  
So, you know, in talking, you also brought up an interesting point, you know, about finding something that's affordable. So could you tell me a little bit about how you already able to like acquire those first drone, stay within your guidelines and such and then kind of how that helped make a case for using more drugs.

Bobbi Antonucci  
The beauty of the DJI comes in a lot of different ranges. And the first one we bought was a phantom for a cost $1475. And our procurement limit on our credit cards was $1500. So we were able to buy that on a credit card. We didn't have to go to PO, we didn't have to go to requisition, any of that kind of stuff. We could just get it as a tool. Yeah, there are plenty of tools that are in that range, and we were able to get it in. Now DJI has the maverick to range that you're down in the $800, maybe $900 range. So for many school systems that is totally affordable to get you started. You can go up to there you can spend $25,000 on a drone if you want to.

Brian  
Yeah, but that's quite an investment.

Bobbi Antonucci  
It is. And these film in 4k, or high def. I film in high def because I don't have a computer that can render 4k.

Brian  
Yeah. And it does pretty good.

Bobbi Antonucci  
You can see everything that you want to say. Yeah. So we were able to get into it now. You do have to have licensing. Yes. From the FAA.

Brian  
I was going to ask you after we spoke a little bit earlier. I did look up South Carolina regulatory on drones. And there's an FAA regulation that you have to abide by?

Bobbi Antonucci  
Yes.

Brian  
Because I believe it also applies to like police, firemen, any any public. Any public employee.

Bobbi Antonucci  
The FAA regulates drones across the whole United States. And you can get information on faa.gov if you were droning and getting paid or compensated in any form, so it's part of your job, you have a webpage and you collect the ad money. If you're a real estate agent, and you're selling properties, then it's considered commercial, and you have to have a commercial drones license. And they have all the information out there what it takes. It's basically a portion of ground school, you have to understand airport regulations, controlled airspace, whether that was the one that was hard for me to understand. And it's $150 to take the test. And then every two years, you have to read it. Okay. So really wasn't that hard. And there are plenty of companies that will train you on it, and that you can take the classes anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars for an online course, to $1,500 to $3,000. For an in-person, class. You take those, you study, you pass the test, and you get an actual license, it looks like your state driver's license. And that enables you to do it and get paid for it. Even if part of your job, you're still getting paid to be there.

Brian  
Yeah, I guess so your salary, your compensation is. So that's an interesting fact. Because when you first were saying more on the commercial side, I was wondering if you still had to do it as a public employee. But that does make sense, when and I think it's also good, because then you're able to ramp up your knowledge and fast track it on, okay, we're going to use this how do we use it properly? How do we, you know, not cause a problem or destroy this expensive piece of equipment, or whatever it is. So I think much like a driver's license, it's making sure everybody has that common knowledge and best practices. And there are rules like you'd have, you always have to have visual control of the drone. You can't fly over people, you're not supposed to fly at night.

Bobbi Antonucci  
And there are no fly zones. And that teaches you all of that to be able to stay within those regulations, which are all about not running into an airplane. Really. That's what the training is about. Yeah. Is how do you not interfere with air traffic that have people.

Brian  
Definitely. And I mean, we've seen that on the national news, when we've had, I believe up at JFK Airport about three months ago, you know, couple drones flying up there. And the FAA is going to really perk up when they see that and, you know, it's it's definitely a huge risk to to an airplane one of those things gets into an engine or something

Bobbi Antonucci  
Correct. Even Farmers Insurance doesn't an ad about getting a car.

Brian  
Or that that's the seen it, covered it. I love those ads. So now you've been able to acquire the drone, you're able to get up there and look at the ruse. And I think what's interesting about that is now you're you've got a whole new set of data. And I wonder if you can tell me a little bit about you know, how you're you're dealing with this new data that you're getting from the drone?

Bobbi Antonucci  
I'm still working on how I'm categorizing it right now. It's by school and by date. So I'll have multiple pieces, but this generates big data.

You know the files are big. And so I'm working on how am I going to categorize that? And how much am I going to keep for the long term? Yeah, I do want to be able to see what did the school look like five years ago? in five years? Yeah. But I don't need every piece of footage that I took. So I'm still working through what am I going to want to keep one of my not want, again, keep probably going to keep all the still photos? Yes, yeah. But edit and filter down the video to some core pieces of what I need to be able to show. We also have used the drone for traffic analysis at schools. Okay. And so, what I did with that video, is it's 40 minutes of cars driving around.

Brian  
Coming and dropping off the kids. I've been there myself. Yeah.

Bobbi Antonucci  
So for playback, I sped it up to like 10 times as fast as it goes down. So I've got to look at those kind of things of keeping those on us on some kind of a basis. Yeah.

Brian  
And then seeing if there's a different, like visual pattern that you might recognize,

Bobbi Antonucci  
Right? And those schools, we would analyze it because we needed to do more loop roads around the school to fit the traffic. Yeah. And be able to show before and afters, you know, all that beautiful kind of stuff. 

Brian  
So like on something like that, where you're building a loop road, for instance, with that. So that would also help you because I'm assuming you might have to work with the city government on that. So you're able to kind of maybe fast track their traffic analysis that they might do the traditional way, you know, someone's another counting cars and be like, you know, here it is right here. I've got three months. And here's the trend I see.

Bobbi Antonucci  
Yes, yes, we can do that. Because the issue is in Horry County, 60% of the students are driven to school. Yeah, that was what happened when I was kid, get on the bus, get on the bus or walk. So these, the line of cars goes out onto the main road.

Brian  
Yeah. And that gets everybody going to work and safety,

Bobbi Antonucci  
Get them off that main road. So be able to show the public, we improved it, to be able to show our board, what the traffic looks like. So we really need the funding, all those kind of things really helps do that.

Brian  
And that's so much cheaper than the user having higher sometimes a civil engineering firm, maybe to do this study, which I know is good, because you get a third party. But you know, it's good, it's gonna cost more, it's gonna take more time, and you're now able to take this tool and deploy it in a way. You know, it's like a secondary use. I think that's fantastic. I mean, that shows even more kind of return on your investment.

Bobbi Antonucci  
And if it sells the boring, they're not at the schools that I've seen at this time.

Brian  
You can visually demonstrate the challenge. And here's my solution. Exactly. That is Sony. So I want to thank Bobbi for coming on and sharing some really awesome information about drones. I think next year, we're going to maybe want to have a chat again and see how much more you've kind of gone down the road on this.

Bobbi Antonucci  
That would be wonderful. We're hoping to add infrared to doing that.

Brian  
Okay, I already know what we're talking about next now. Thank you for listening to the Operate Intelligently Podcast produced by Dude Solutions. You can reach us by emailing dspodcast@dudesolutions.com or check us out on the web at dudesolutions.com.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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