Case study

Edith Cowan University

Updating, asset registers, identifying construction & maintenance faults while reducing risks associated with working at heights & in hazardous locations

National Drones is helping BGIS, Edith Cowan University’s (ECU) facilities management partner to deliver efficiencies and improve the management and life-cycle of ECU’s buildings by quickly and safely locating and identifying structural faults and maintenance issues.

BGIS is dedicated to finding innovative solutions using emerging and disruptive technologies to address challenges, new and old. By partnering with National Drones for external building inspections, BGIS is able to provide a complete overview of a property, with the ability to drill down to view the smallest of details. Our remotely piloted aircraft systems reduce and sometimes eliminate the need for workers to work at height, by capturing high-definition evidence of defects in parapets, gutters, lashing, pointing, roofing materials, skylights and high-rise windows.


Preventative maintenance can add decades to the useful life of commercial/residential buildings and infrastructure assets, however conducting inspections manually is labour-intensive, time consuming and potentially dangerous.

It often requires the use of elevated work platforms, scaffolding, harnesses or even abseiling – high-risk undertakings that demand significant resources and planning. Falling from height is the 3rd biggest cause of workplace fatalities in Australia, accounting for 13% of all worker fatalities in 2015. *

The “WAAPA” building at ECU’s Mount Lawley campus had suffered from long term, multiple issues, leading to water ingress and damage in several areas. Repeated efforts to identify causes and repair leaks had proven unsuccessful.


  1. Aerial photomosaic inspection survey – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) high resolution image / mapping asset data capture of complete roof structure. A UAV is a quick and cost-effective method for capturing high quality inspection data.
  2. Desktop asset and defect identification and location – Captured aerial imagery is post processed to create a high-resolution, geo-referenced orthomosaic map of the survey site.
  3. Desktop Inspection and asset survey. Captured data safely analysed from the ground by building inspectors, property managers, surveyors, architects or technical specialists.
  4. Work orders generated so that maintenance workers know exactly what needs to be done and where, greatly reducing their time off the ground, also reducing risk and insurance costs, as well as unplanned events.
  5. Comparison over time – with quarterly, half yearly or annual surveys, change in building/asset condition is easily assessed allowing for preventative maintenance and more accurate budgeting, plus confirmation of works carried out.


Following the UAV based inspection, thirty-seven (37) faults and issues were identified, these included:

  • debris blocking downpipes and gutters
  • flashing around roof services not to Australian Building Code standards, leading to water ingress
  • insufficient fall/gradient on gutters leading to water ingress
  • damage to roof sheets, most likely caused by trades working on roof
  • building/construction material left on roof surfaces
  • incorrect installation of gutters and insufficient rainwater drainage Recommendations were provided to BGIS/ECU for the rectification or methods of further investigations for each of the faults/issues identified. Recommended that aerial inspection of the entirety of ECU’s three WA campuses be carried out.


In early 2018, BGIS and ECU are partnering with National Drones to asses feasibility of and methodology for carrying out full roof and facade inspections on 80 of the university’s buildings, covering all three of their Western Australian sites.


Increased visibility

Reduced field operations time required for asset inspections from days to hours. Significantly reduce WH&S issues


Optimised allocation of on-site resources for proactive issue investigation and resolution, instead of time-consuming data collection and reactive work

Asset lifecycle monitoring

Improved asset register and clearer understanding of overall building “health” and how structures and issues change over time

No downtime

Enhanced online data availability for stakeholders, allowing for early identification of potential issues and ensuring remedial work carried out correctly

Edith Cowan University - National Drones

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