You’ve bought your drone and are keen to get into mapping your local ecosystems. Or maybe you’re still pondering the best drone for your application. Either way, you’ll need to make a choice – do you go with online drone mapping software, or a desktop package? If you have a high end computer with a good graphics card, are ready for the learning curve, and are keen to have control over your processing parameters, then a desktop option might work for you. Otherwise, read on for what’s hot in cloud-based drone mapping right now.
Open Aerial Map
“OpenAerialMap creates a place for mappers to store and share their work with the rest of the community.”
What we love: This global data repository is great if you are looking to source drone orthomosaics, or share those that you’ve already created. It even holds some high spatial resolution satellite data. It’s easy to download the imagery or use their tile mapping server to stream to your GIS.
To be aware of: It doesn’t process data, so you’ll need to do that yourself on another application. It can be a bit hard to find what you need, and searches are limited to map locations. It also only hosts the orthomosaics, not the other photogrammetry outputs.
“OpenDroneMap is a command line toolkit to generate maps, point clouds, 3D models and DEMs from drone, balloon or kite images”
What we love: This is an incredibly powerful open source application with an active and supportive community. It can be run as a desktop or cloud application, and scales for large projects. Users can maintain control over processing parameters.
To be aware of: Getting started can be challenging if you are not well versed in coding. Try the web application WebODM as an alternative. It also uses CPU rather than GPU for processing, so can be slow for large datasets. This is not a platform to store, share, or discover data, only for processing.
“DroneDeploy is drone mapping software for interior and exterior visual data – any altitude, any angle, all in one platform.”
What we love: DD has been in the market for many years and has developed sophisticated options to integrate data from various platforms and collection methods. This means that you can keep your ground surveys together with your aerial ones, and it will also store your drone videos. There are some interesting on-platform analytical options that are well suited to the built environment and mine sites. The freemium mission planning app is great on desktop and mobile and you don’t need to use the cloud photogrammetry processing to access the mission planning.
To be aware of: There are many features that you may not need but will still be paying for in your subscription. The entry price point is quite high, and if you cancel your subscription, your data will be lost after 30 days, so make sure you download in advance!
“Site Scan for ArcGIS is the end-to-end cloud-based drone mapping software designed to revolutionize imagery data collection, processing, and analysis.”
What we love: Although it was developed by 3DR (aw, I’m nostalgic for the Solo), it was acquired more recently by Esri. This means that if you’re comfortable with Esri products, this will feel like a good fit and its well integrated with ArcGIS.
To be aware of: The mission planning app is reasonable but not available on Android. There are also a limited number of recommended drones, however I do expect it will still work on data captured from other platforms.
Maps Made Easy
“Maps Made Easy is a web application that lets users upload aerial photos, stitch the images and host created maps.”
What we love: This is a simple interface generating all the standard photogrammety outputs, similar to DroneDeploy. It also has a mission planning app that’s super helpful, and online georeferencing to ensure orthomosaics are correctly located.
To be aware of: Free processing on freemium option is great, but results will be downscaled. Web maps will expire when subscription lapses
“GLOBHE serves you drone data through a subscription model, where you let us know how often you need drone data, from what location, and we match you with local pilots”
What we love: If you need drone data captured from a location you don’t have access to, this is a great way to connect to local pilots. You can access the unprocessed imagery as well as the standard suit of photogrammetry products.
To be aware of: If you have an in-house drone capability or are looking at capturing a lot of data, it might be cheaper to do it yourself. Globhe doesn’t process your own drone mapping data for your own use.
“GeoNadir is the best place to store, process, and share your drone mapping data”
What we love: This model is based on findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable data (FAIR). The platform provides free storage and photogrammetry processing (orthomosaics), accessible on the platform. It’s easy to find and explore global datasets contributed by the community, based on a variety of search options. Products can be downloaded or streamed into GIS applications.
To be aware of: If you don’t want to share your data, you will need to purchase a subscription, but this is still considerably cheaper than competitors due to the circular data economy model. As a relatively new company, the feature base is not yet as comprehensive as some of the other platforms, but development is ongoing and the developers are open to community suggestions.
By way of a quick summary, here are some of the key features we love about these online drone mapping software options.
What’s your favourite online drone mapping software?
As with everything, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for online drone mapping software options. All the platforms listed above have some great features, and some quirks. So which is the best? Well that will come down to what you are looking for in terms of features and budget. But at GeoNadir we believe that we are the best place to store, process, share, visualise, and analyse your drone data.
If you’d like to join our global mission to make the most detailed map of the world with your drone data, we’ll welcome you with open arms. And provide you with some wicked features as well. We look forward to seeing you and your data soon!
I’ve processed my data, now what?
Actually if you’ve just created your orthomosaic, DSM, and other photogrammetry products, technically you’ve just pre-processed your data. Now’s the time to start analysing it! You can read more about how others in our GeoNadir community are gaining insights from their data to monitor oyster reefs, seagrass meadows and to track vegetation recovery after fires.
And of course, what are you going to do with all the data you’ve captured? We’d love to help you store, manage, and share it on GeoNadir. Get started today!