A quick note on this initiative:
As a global company, Propeller succeeds because we thrive at working remotely. Whether it’s troubleshooting hardware issues in real time, training workers on how best to use our platform, or advocating for customers’ needs from the other side of the planet, we’re committed to providing the best service possible from a distance.
This is one in a series of posts highlighting our remote support capabilities and the individuals powering that support system.
In this post, we spoke to Hayley Distler, a senior GIS specialist at Propeller, about how she and the Data Success team provide remote support to our customers.
1. Ensuring data accuracy
To generate 3D site maps in the Propeller Platform, we rely on three things:
- Hundreds of aerial images collected from a drone
- Accurate positional data generated with the help of ground control points (like our AeroPoints)
- The science of photogrammetry
After you’ve flown your drone, collected the data, and uploaded it to the platform, we begin the difficult work of processing.
That’s when the Data Success team, our highly tech-savvy team of photogrammetrists and GIS specialists, takes the reins. They’re who help turn the aerial imagery your drone captures into the 3D models you rely on to track worksite progress and make critical, money-saving decisions.
“The goal of the Data Success team at Propeller is to help our customers get fast and accurate data that they can trust,” says Hayley.
It’s because of GIS experts like Hayley who aid in the processing of large, complex datasets that we’re able to produce highly accurate 3D models—within 1/10ft (3cm) of accuracy.
It’s also thanks to Hayley and the other data developers at Propeller that we’re able to continuously advance our processes to increase data accuracy and process at a faster rate.
“I started working at Propeller when our PPK workflow was just being released, so I’ve seen the accuracy of datasets improve over that time. It’s just so much simpler to collect accurate data now. On my end, that means less datasets that need to be troubleshooted.”
2. Troubleshooting complex surveys
“Compared to other drone surveying companies, I think Propeller does the best job on quality assurance,” says Hayley. “We have someone in Data Success who reviews all surveys to make sure they meet our strict accuracy threshold before we release the data to the customer.
“As a senior member of my team, I serve as a technical escalation point. I mostly work on troubleshooting complex surveys that our customers have submitted.”
While data processing is partly a computer-aided process, it requires manual input to guarantee the models produced are error-free. Hayley and her team are there to ensure the aerial images are properly stitched together, ground control points are accurately marked, and to help build outputs like elevation models and point clouds.
In addition to aiding in the initial data processing, Hayley is on hand to troubleshoot issues customers may have with their dataset. On Hayley’s busiest days, she interacts with datasets from 50 to 70 different customers that come in through the support chat in the Propeller Platform.
“Our customers are located all over the world, and Propeller is set up really well to remotely support them with our chat platform,” says Hayley. “It doesn’t matter where you are; as long as you have an internet connection, you can click on the Contact Support button on the platform and send us your inquiry.
3. Photogrammetry and GIS expertise
Don’t have the first clue what the science of photogrammetry involves? You don’t have to!
That’s why our Data Success team exists. We’ve stacked the Data Success deck with some truly talented minds who understand all things geospatial inside and out.
Hayley, for instance, arrived at Propeller with a background in remote sensing and photogrammetry.
“My first job out of college was working for the United States Geological Survey, which is a federal government scientific research agency,” says Hayley. “While I was there, I worked as a research assistant on projects using satellite data to map wildfires and wetlands. After that, I worked for a private consulting company on projects using satellite- and drone-collected data for clients.”
Hayley’s geological research experience set her up nicely for her role here at Propeller. Each day is a balancing act, as she splits her time between reactive troubleshooting and the proactive development of her team.
“I really don’t have a typical day-to-day, which is really exciting,” says Hayley. “My day usually revolves around what issues our customers are experiencing and the complexities behind them. I might spend the entire day troubleshooting one survey for one customer, while other days I might work on many different troubleshooting projects.
“I also spend time teaching other members of my team new skills and workflows or working with our data developers on new features for the platform.”
4. 24/7 remote support from anywhere
Since Propeller is a global company, support requests come through our chat channel at all hours of the day. While Hayley is on hand to process data and handle troubleshooting requests during the day from our Denver office, she relies on the global support network that makes up the rest of our Data Success team.
“In addition to providing 100% remote support to our customers, our team itself is also remote,” says Hayley. We have some people in the Sydney office, me in the Denver office, and the rest of the team is located in Manila in the Philippines. Because our team is spread out globally, we’re able to provide data support 24/7.”
Any Propeller Platform customer can hit the Support button in the platform at any time of day, and they’ll immediately be redirected to a member of the Data Success team who has an in-depth understanding of our processing methodologies.
And Data Success doesn’t act alone, either. All of Propeller’s remote support teams collaborate with each other on a daily basis to help our customers get the most from their data.
“Every Data Success team member answers all different types of questions. If for some reason we can’t answer a customer’s question, we make sure their inquiry is passed on to the right people at our company, whether that’s someone in Tech Support or that customer’s dedicated customer success engineer.”
5. Radical transparency and receptiveness
Submitting your data to a team that operates totally outside your worksite, hoping they’ll produce the promised results, accurately and on time, obviously requires a certain degree of confidence in that team. Propeller understands that, which is why we’ve always emphasized the importance of transparency in everything we do.
“We will always communicate with customers as soon as possible if there are processing delays,” explains Hayley. “We’ll always explain what caused a delay and provide feedback on how those delays, if they originated on the customer’s side (such as incorrectly placed Aeropoints), can be avoided in the future. Most drone surveying companies won’t take the time to do that.”
When it comes meeting our customers’ support requests, Hayley says, “Sometimes, Data Success can only provide so much help. When that happens, we act as an aid to the CSE so they can more easily explain to their customers what they need to do next time to prevent issues with their data.”
Transparency is a two-way street, and we want customers to feel comfortable delivering candid feedback on how we’re doing. That’s why we strive to gather as much input from them during our conversations as possible.
“Propeller is really receptive to feedback and is always looking to improve, both from a product standpoint and as a support network,” says Hayley. “We’ve actually introduced several features to the platform that were first requested by our customers. When our customers come to us with feedback about our platform or have a feature request, we’re always super keen to listen.”
In the end, it comes down to ROI: By letting Propeller’s Data Success team process your data, you’ll save money you otherwise would have spent on an in-house photogrammetrist, get a quicker turnaround on your survey data, and be empowered to make smarter, cost-saving decisions.
Reach out today to harness the power of Propeller’s support systems and get your drone program off the ground!