Firstly, you will notice a somewhat familiar symbol or graph that resembles an upside down wedding cake. The tiers are not meant to represent volume but represent more of a value of data collected and respective difficulty to capture. You may discover subsets to these grades, but this is meant to serve as a rule of thumb for the aspiring data collection entrepreneur.   

The first layer is Artistic grade –

What I like to call pretty pictures. Mostly shot for enjoyment and possible sale as B-roll or possible stock photography for websites and local art installations.

The second layer is Commercial grade  –

This data is still artistic in nature yet harder to capture and is primarily used to sell i.e. houses, property, cars, dish soaps, other consumables, and ideas. This grade also includes Television and movie production as well. You can hardly turn on the TV (streaming included) and watch something with scenes shot out of doors sans drone video.  Notice that I did not say footage.

The third layer is Regulatory grade –

This data is something that can be employed to indemnify oneself or company from lawsuits and or regulatory enforcement action and or fines. This grade is the most difficult to produce and needs to be based on a repeatable, standardised scientific process that is globally transferable. Ultimately, whoever is going to analyze the data (video, pictures, point cloud, etc.) will be apprised of these criteria and able to handily recognise anomalies and abnormalities in the data set. Furthermore, these data sets can be catalogued and stored for forensic use in the future (Dam spillways and such) allowing for the possibly resale of a product multiple times to multiple customers.

One day, the drone apps and computer programs will be able to spot the anomalies and produce warnings and remedies without human intervention, or autonomously. That is when we as a society will truly realise the value of remote sensing.  

Notice: I did not delve into data security and custody chain, that topic warrants more commentary.  However, I will say as a warning that this is a critical element of the data collection and storage business.  Remember the adage of knowledge equals power? In this case, what you are collecting can represent not only an industrial espionage risk but also a national security risk. Imagine the possible implications of a country’s energy production being compromised while the data was in your custody.  (No Bueno!)
You would already be aware of these three grades if you followed @TheDroneDealer on #twitter  

By Patrick Egan

Editor in Field, sUAS News Americas Desk | Patrick Egan is the editor of the Americas Desk at sUAS News and host and Executive Producer of the sUAS News Podcast Series, Drone TV and the Small Unmanned Systems Business Exposition. Experience in the field includes assignments with the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Battle Lab investigating solutions on future warfare research projects. Instructor for LTA (Lighter Than Air) ISR systems deployment teams for an OSD, U.S. Special Operations Command, Special Surveillance Project. Built and operated commercial RPA prior to 2007 FAA policy clarification. On the airspace integration side, he serves as director of special programs for the RCAPA (Remote Control Aerial Photography Association).