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Exploring the Value of Drones: Eyes in the Sky with Michael Winn and David Thirlwell


In this episode of the Propcast, host Louisa Dickins explores the value of drones with Mike Winn, CEO and co-founder of DroneDeploy, and David Thirlwell, Director of Operational Excellence at Stiles Construction. They explore how drones have become widely accessible in recent years, providing a bird’s eye view of job sites and delivering structured, detailed data to enhance safety and efficiency.  

Mike shares how DroneDeploy has gained over 5,000 customers worldwide, revolutionising the way businesses operate in sectors like oil, gas, and construction. David emphasizes the importance of finding the right technology solution to maximize efficiency and productivity. Despite market challenges and budget cuts, this episode highlights how businesses who are embracing forward-thinking technology will thrive in the future.  

Tune in to hear how drones are shaping the digital future of smart buildings and beyond. 


Companies mentionned 




Episode Highlights 

  • The benefits of using drones for aerial data capture 
  • The use of drones in various industries, including construction, oil, gas and solar energy 
  • The growth and success of DroneDeploy, with over 5,000 customers worldwide 
  • David’s experience using DroneDeploy’s technology to improve construction processes and identify potential issues early on 
  • The importance of finding the right technology solutions and being open-minded to adopting new technologies in the construction industry 
  • The future of automation in the drone industry, and the future of DroneDeploy 


Key Takeaways 

  • While technology investments may seem expensive at first, the value lies in the ability to catch and resolve problems early, saving time and money in the long run. – David 
  • Already we have a vision that every job site should be digitized. And if we can do that, we will enable all the workers to really understand what’s going on and help them do their job more safely and more effectively. – Mike  
  • The use of technology, such as drones and 3D scanners, allows for accurate verification of construction elements like sleeves in concrete, reducing the risk of costly mistakes and schedule delays. – David 
  • The adoption of technology in the construction industry is receptive, with companies like Stiles Construction being open to exploring new tools and solutions to improve efficiency and mitigate risks. – Mike 
  • Stiles Construction values trust and reliability in technology providers, and they have found DroneDeploy to be a great partner in bringing new tools and solutions to the table. – David 
  • The future of drones in the construction industry is promising, with the expectation that every major job site will have a drone in the next five years. – Mike 


About our guests 

Mike Winn 

Mike is the CEO and founder of DroneDeploy; the leading Reality Capture Platform. It’s in use at over 50% of the world’s largest general contractors, oil and gas, and clean energy companies to answer questions about the conditions of their assets and sites.

The company’s software automates drones, robots and 360 cameras to capture site data, uses AI to make sense of that data, and unifies it all in one place for analysis by remote teams and stakeholders. From aerial and ground views of construction progress over time to inch-accurate facade inspections and detection of microscopic methane leaks. DroneDeploy has been named one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company and the Best Places to Work in the Bay Area for its size.

Prior to DroneDeploy, Mike worked at Google and was a remote control helicopter hobbyist. 


Build with certainty, operate with confidence. That’s why thousands of construction, oil and gas and renewable energy companies use DroneDeploy on a daily basis. We help them automate reality capture using drones, robots and 360 cameras – combining this data in one platform for AI-powered analysis. From aerial and ground views of construction progress to automated gauge readings and methane leak detection, DroneDeploy is shaping the future of reality capture.  


David Thirlwell 

David recently rejoined Stiles Construction as Director of Operational Excellence. Stiles construction has long prided itself on the real-world application of leading-edge technologies and David strives to revitalize this tradition.  For over 25 years David has been using 3D modeling to better describe our built environment including 17 years using BIM and VDC in commercial construction including roles in Architecture, Engineering, Construction Management, as well as working for a large national specialty contractor. 

As Director of Operational Excellence, David leads the Virtual Design and Construction group at Stiles leveraging BIM, a variety of Construction Technologies, and Quality Control/Quality Assurance to achieve continuous improvement within construction operations and beyond.  With a passion for operational efforts in the field, David seeks to bring new solutions to old problems and very often technology is the key to those successes through application of hardware, software, or process improvement. 

Stiles Construction 

Celebrating more than 70 years, since 1951, Stiles Construction has been recognized as a leader in the industry for our award-winning projects that include Class A office buildings, industrial complexes, retail shopping centers, mixed-use corporate parks, and high-rise luxury residential projects throughout the Southeast as evidenced by our extensive list of satisfied repeat clients. Stiles has played a vital role in South Florida’s rise to prominence. We are proudly credited with inspiring the revitalization of downtown Fort Lauderdale, including helping to shape the city’s iconic skyline. Currently, we are focused on growing in our core markets of Florida as well as our newest markets in North Carolina and Tennessee, where we continue to expand our presence. 


About Our Host 

Louisa Dickins 

Louisa is the Co-Founder of LMRE, which has rapidly become the market-leading global built environment recruitment platform and search consultancy, specializing in finding the best strategic talent for the most innovative organisations in PropTech, ConTech, Smart Buildings, ESG, Sustainability and Strategic Consulting with operations across North America, United Kingdom, Europe, Asia-Pacific and MENA. 

To promote the industry she is so passionate about, Louisa set up the Global podcast ‘The Propcast’ where she hosts and invites guests from the built environment space to join her in conversation about innovation. 

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