Frequently Asked Questions
Learn About Survae
What is Survae?
Survae is a cloud-based platform that connects the video and data recorded by UAVs (drones), smartphones and action cameras to maps.
Our map and data-driven technology provides new and more effective ways to view, search for and request video from aerial and ground-based inspections, evaluations, and surveys.
Bring your own video from your devices or from contractors you already work with, or use our on-demand, map-based technology to request rapid, repeatable, and cost-effective high-resolution imagery.
What are some of the uses for the Survae platform?
If you work with land, water or infrastructure, Survae provides a simple interface for using video, maps and data to add important context to your aerial and ground-based imagery.
Uses for Survae include inspection, evaluation and surveys for:
- Natural resources conservation and wildlife protection
- Forest management and timberland
- Wind and solar farms, power lines, substations, pipelines, and communications towers
- Bridges, roadways, and buildings
- Humanitarian missions
What is data-enabled video?
Data-enabled video is recorded by professional and high-end consumer UAVs (drones), the latest action cameras (GoPros, Garmins) and current iPhones and Android smartphones, all of which capture data along with video.
What data is captured along with the video?
- GPS for geographic location
What are the benefits of using the Survae platform?
Knowing where and when a video was recorded enables you to visualize the world in powerful new ways:
- Get immediate context and see any video connected to a map. View video along with a moving map that displays the video path.
- Search, browse and find video (and individual frames within a video) using the map. Mouse over the video path to see thumbnails from any location; start playing video from any location via the map. (Search with keywords, text and tags, too.)
- See all of your video assets on a central map and find video using the map itself to search or browse; locate videos visually on the map and play them directly from the map.
- Add a wide variety of maps and file types as layers to any video
- Share mapped videos internally or externally
- Bring your own video from your devices or from contractors you already work with, or use our on-demand, map-based technology to request rapid, repeatable, and cost-effective high-resolution imagery.
How does Survae work?
There are just a few simple steps to seeing your video connected to the map:
- Record data-enabled video with a UAV (drone), compatible smartphone or action camera
- Use our auto-upload technology to upload the video and data to the cloud-based Survae platform
- Once uploaded, your video is encoded in web formats and automatically connected to a base Google map and ready for you to view and share
How is the Survae platform licensed?
Survae is a subscription service, licensed on a monthly or annual basis to clients.
We provide three levels of accounts depending on your needs:
- Our Starter plan is for organizations looking to dip their toe in the water with data-enabled video or that have smaller requirements. Includes one user login and 150 GB of storage. Videos are connected to Google street, satellite and terrain maps.
- Our Organization plan is for companies, government or non-profit organizations looking to manage a variety of land, water or infrastructure properties or assets. Includes up to five user logins, 300 GB of storage, custom maps, on-boarding and support.
- Our Enterprise plan is for companies, government or non-profit organizations that need to manage land, water or infrastructure assets across multiple locations, states, nationally and globally. Includes all of the features included with our starter and organization plans, plus all sorts of enhancements to meet the needs of bigger organizations. Please contact us for details.
You can find complete details on features and pricing for all plans here.
What's included with the monthly or annual license fee?
- Anytime/anywhere access with a web browser to the Survae cloud-based platform for working with and sharing all of your data-enabled video assets.
- Uploading and encoding. Video is encoded and stored in 480p, 720p, 1080p and 4k formats, providing a variety of useful formats for viewing and sharing.
- Indexing and cataloging for all of your video assets.
- Secure cloud-based storage.
- Robust, permissions-based system for connecting and managing external contractors, field staff, and central office users and administrators. Included with organization and enterprise accounts.
Map and Search Features
- Base Google map set (street, satellite and terrain) for all accounts. Organization and Enterprise accounts have the ability to import and work with additional maps and file types. Many map sets can be integrated at no additional charge.
- All videos are connected and synced to the map. View video along with a moving map that displays the video path.
- Search, browse and find video (and individual frames within a video) using the map. Mouse over the video path to see thumbnails from any location; start playing video from any location via the map. You can add keywords, text and tags to each video and use those for search, as well.
- See all of your video assets on a central map and find video using the map itself to search or browse; locate videos visually on the map and play them directly from the map. See all of your videos on a state, national or global map or zoom in to county or local level, as needed.
- Share mapped videos internally or externally with the Survae video/map player. Beyond using the platform itself, you can include links to any of the videos in emails, for instance, or embed the videos on web pages for sharing outside your organization.
- Access to Survae map-driven technology to request rapid, repeatable, and cost-effective, high-resolution aerial and ground-based videography for inspections, evaluations, and surveys.
How do we upgrade our plan if we need more storage or want to add more users or features?
It’s easy to add more storage to any plan on an as-needed basis or to move up to a more comprehensive plan with additional features. Just reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org when you’re ready.
What data-enabled video devices does Survae work with?
Survae currently supports all DJI UAVs including the Phantom, Inspire and Mavic lines, flown using the popular Litchi application. We will be adding other manufacturers throughout 2017. Do you have a specific need? Please contact us and let our development team know what you’re looking for.
In development and available in early fall 2017 will be apps for iPhone and Android smartphones. The iPhone app will also work on Apple iPads. Smartphones are ideal for collecting ground-based video tied to maps.
Why do I need to use an app for my iPhone or Android phone?
Current generation smartphones all have the ability to record data along with video, but they don’t offer that capability in the default camera application right now. The Survae app connects the video and data you record and enables you to instantly upload both to the our platform. Within minutes, you’ll be able to see your video on a map and share it with others.
Also, coming this fall, Survae is adding support for video and data captured by the GoPro Hero 5 and the Garmin VIRB lines of action cameras. Ongoing updates will regularly add support for new camera models.
Can we work with video recorded from a small plane or satellite imagery in Survae?
Yes. If you require videography or other data from an airplane or satellite, Survae can not only connect you to the right service for your needs, we can arrange to bring the video and data into the Survae platform for you.
In addition to video, can Survae connect thermal imagery and 3D models to maps?
The ability to upload and work with these technologies in the Survae platform is currently in development and will be available later in 2017.
Can we take our video and other content with us if we cancel our account?
Yes. If you ever want to cancel your account, you have the ability to download all of your original content and take it with you. Anything you upload to the Survae platform will be available for you to download. Please note that the maps provide by Survae and our proprietary technology for connecting and displaying your content with maps won’t be available for your use once you cancel your account.
What kind of Internet connection do we need to use Survae?
Below are the recommended broadband connection speeds per stream for playing video and working with connected maps through the Survae Platform:
- 1.5 Megabits per second (Mbps) for playing 480p quality video
- 3 Mbps for 720p quality
- 5 Mbps for 1080p quality
- 25 Mbps for 4k quality
Recent versions of Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Opera and Safari all work with the Survae platform and video/map player.
What do we need in order to be able to work with and play videos in 4k resolution?
4k video provides tremendous clarity for aerial imaging, but you do need a few things in order to take advantage of this format.
- An Ultra HD monitor for watching the video.
- A steady Internet connection speed of 25 megabits per second or higher
- A recent computer
What maps does Survae provide and can we work with our own maps?
The Survae platform provides Google street, satellite and terrain maps for all accounts. Organization and Enterprise accounts have the ability to import and work with a wide variety of additional public and private maps, such as property lines, flood zones, wetlands, utility lines, etc. Additional fees may apply for some types of maps.
Can we edit the video or add narration/music with Survae?
In order to ensure that video and data are synced properly, users should not edit any video prior to uploading it to Survae. Please refer to the instructions in the Survae User Knowledgebase for complete information on uploading video.
The ability to edit video and add audio tracks within the Survae platform is in development and coming soon.
UAV (Drone) Basics
UAV, UAS, Drone? What’s the difference?
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and drones are all different ways to describe the same thing – an aerial vehicle that is flown remotely by a pilot standing on the ground.
Most professional pilots and aviation experts tend to use the terms “UAV” or “UAS,” rather than “drone,” to describe these vehicles. You will find other variations around the world, too. In Australia, drones are referred to as “remotely piloted aircraft,” or “RPA.”
What is the typical flight time for a UAV? How long can they stay in the air?
A typical UAV battery lasts for about 20 minutes. If the UAV is flying or hovering close to where it has taken off, it can stay in the air for close to 20 minutes. On a flight covering many acres of land, the UAV can fly out about 10 minutes, but then the pilot needs to allow 10 minutes for the return flight. As new battery technologies are developed, performance will increase over time, but for now, these are good ballparks to keep in mind when working with UAV pilots.
How much ground can a UAV cover during a flight?
This depends on the type of route being flown and the speed the UAV is traveling. UAV flights at speeds of 20 mph will generally provide you with good quality imagery. A perimeter flight at this speed around a 200-acre property will take about 10 minutes to perform. If you require complete coverage of a 200-acre property, you need to allow perhaps 30-40 minutes to complete a thorough video scan.
How does weather affect UAV flights?
Adverse weather such as high winds, reduced visibility, rain and snow are all highly problematic for flying a UAV and UAV pilots generally won’t fly in these conditions. All of these factors will also affect the quality of the video and data being collected, which is another reason why you would not want to fly in bad weather. Extreme temperatures may impact the batteries and affect whether a pilot can fly the UAV. Professional UAVs are GPS and motion stabilized and use camera stabilizing gimbals for smooth video in light to medium winds and even somewhat gusty conditions.
What are some of the FAA rules regarding UAVs we should be aware of?
Some of the most important rules to know:
- UAVs must fly under 400 feet above ground level (AGL) or, if flying at an altitude higher than 400 feet AGL, stay within 400 feet of a structure.
- The UAV must be kept in sight (i.e. visual line of sight) during the flight, either by the remote pilot in command or a visual observer. So if you have a big property, it may require launching from multiple places. The pilot can also bring a spotter to keep an eye on the UAV.
- In order to fly commercially, pilots must be licensed by the FAA and be either FAA Section 333 exempt or have passed the Part 107 test
- UAVs may only operate during daylight hours or civil twilight hours (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time) with appropriate anti-collision lighting
- UAVs may not be flown over anyone who is not directly participating in the operation, unless they are in a covered structure or covered stationary vehicle.
- No operations from a moving vehicle are allowed unless flying over a sparsely populated area.
- Before flying within five miles of any airport or heliport, UAV pilots must notify that airport’s manager of intended flights. Airports with control towers require special permission for flights within their airspace. Please note that it may not be possible to fly UAVs within airspace or established landing patterns of commercial airports.
- The use of UAVs is governed by the FAA. UAVs are treated the same as small private airplanes and helicopters.
- Organizations may apply for waivers for any of these rules with the FAA.
What about privacy and flying over private property?
The FAA classifies UAVs with small private airplanes and helicopters, all of which may fly over any property they wish to (with the exception of no-fly zones and restricted areas). Google Street View, Google Earth and commercial satellites are all examples of services that fly or drive past private property, capture images and publish this data online in a publicly searchable format. That having been said, Terraflix and its independent contractors take all reasonable steps not to violate the privacy of unrelated parties to our work by observing the following guidelines:
- If possible, advise outside parties when we’ll be taking aerial pictures or video that might include them or their property
- We don’t fly over other people’s private property without permission if we can easily avoid doing so
Please note that Terraflix may work with news-gatherers and news reporting organizations to whom these guidelines do not apply. These groups are protected by federal and state law and the First Amendment to the Constitution.
For more information on best practices related to privacy and UAVs, visit the Know Before You Fly website, an education campaign founded by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to educate prospective users about the safe and responsible operation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
Survae Map-Based, On-Demand Videography
What is map-based, on-demand videography?
The Survae platform is not just for viewing video synced to a map. Integral to our service, we provide a simple solution for requesting aerial or ground-based video using the map to order video.
Here is a quick overview of how the service works:
- You use the map within your Survae account to define exactly what you want video of.
- You’ll get an instant price quote
- Once you accept, one of our qualified commercial UAV pilots will take your job and complete it, per your specifications
- Please note that we send your job request as map data directly to the UAV pilot. The pilot just needs to know where to park and launch the UAV from. Once the UAV is set up, it flies the exact route you specified.
- The pilot uploads the requested video into the Survae platform
- The video is encoded and appears in your account attached to the map and ready for you to view
What are the benefits of using the Survae on-demand videography service?
It’s incredibly easy to request aerial video through Survae. Click on the map to define what you want and we take care of the rest. That’s it. We think that’s a huge time savings compared to manually arranging flights with UAV pilots, from tracking down pilots to negotiating price to providing them with maps and flight diagrams. And then once the pilot records your video, the pilot will likely meet with you and hand over a flash drive with your video. Those files are huge, hard to work with, and not shareable unless you count passing around that flash drive. With our on-demand system, once the pilot finishes your job, the video is automatically uploaded to Survae, encoded in multiple web formats, and shows up in your account ready for you to view or share as needed.
Another advantage to using the Survae on-demand system is that you have one central point of contact for both your UAV flights and use of the platform. We manage the entire process for you, from coordinating the recording of the aerial videos to using the Survae platform for viewing and working with the videos.
Do we need to use your on-demand videography in order to use the Survae Platform?
No. The Survae platform works with data-enabled video regardless of whether we provide the UAV pilots and record the video or you already have a solution for the video. There are many scenarios where bringing your own video just makes more sense. You own your own UAVs or you have specialized contractors already inspecting your wind turbines, for instance.
At Survae, our primary focus is on making sure every client gets the most value from our map and data-enabled video platform, whether we arrange the video or you do.
Where are the Survae on-demand videography services available?
Our on-demand aerial and ground-based videography service is available throughout the US. We also operate in Canada and other countries internationally. If you have questions that we haven’t answered in our FAQs, please contact us by email at email@example.com.
Who are the UAV pilots who fly for Survae?
We partner with UAV pilots all over the US. Every pilot has a commercial license from the FAA and is fully insured and has been vetted by Survae. Many of our pilots specialize in particular types of videography for inspection, surveys, and evaluation as well as the use of thermal imaging and specialized data collection for agriculture. We automatically match your requirements to pilots with capabilities that match your needs.
What kind of insurance do the UAV pilots who fly for Survae carry?
UAV pilots flying for Survae are required to carry a minimum of $1 million in liability insurance.
What video and data are recorded during a Survae UAV flight?
All of our video is recorded in 4k resolution, which gives you incredible high-resolution imagery to work with. If you want still images from an aerial flight, you can easily grab them right from the finished video, as video is made up of thousands of individual frames. Data we collect on a flight and display in the Terraflix platform, along with your mapped video, includes GPS coordinates, speed, altitude, heading, date, and time.
In addition to 4k, we automatically provide you with lower resolution versions of your video in 1080p, 720p and 480p in your account.
How do we specify the video that we want recorded?
Requesting aerial or ground-based videography through the Survae platform is entirely map-driven. Within your account, you can click and drag right on a map to define a route. Examples of routes you can define include the perimeter of a property or a full scan of a specific area. In addition to using property lines, there are multiple other options for defining a flight using latitude and longitude markers.
Once you define your route, we send the flight data directly to the app used to control the UAV. Once the UAV pilot arrives at the defined location, the UAV flight will be entirely automated, thereby ensuring you get the exact videography you require.
Please have a look at our other FAQs about UAVs so you develop a good understanding of what’s involved. It’s not complicated, but there a few do’s and don’ts that you’ll need to know about.
In addition to specifying the exact property you want aerial video of or the exact route to be flown, there are multiple other fields you will request. These include:
- Camera angles needed: Straight down, oblique, etc.
- What is the use for the imagery? An inspection, which will require close-ups, or panorama showing how the property relates
- Date Needed
- Repeat the flight at a specified date?
- Specific pilot skills and experience required
- Identify where to park and where to take off/land from
If you are using Survae for a repeatable need such as annual easement monitoring, please note that you only need to set the conditions for the flight one time. As long as you don’t need to change any of the parameters, the flight can be automatically repeated at whatever interval you set up (i.e. quarterly, annually).
Can we provide specific instructions regarding what kind of video and data we want recorded?
Yes. In addition to the standard checklist noted above, you can provide any additional instructions needed in order for the pilot to successfully complete the mission for you.
What’s the value of using automated UAV flights provided by Survae?
Using the exact same data to define a UAV flight has several benefits. Once you set a route in Survae, you don’t have to repeat that process in the future. So if you need to monitor an easement every year, for instance, you just need to set it up once and in the future you’ll merely need to confirm you want the video recorded. The same concept applies to studying beach erosion. Set the route once and then it can be repeated automatically as often as you want. In addition to saving you time, there is an even more important benefit to working with and saving automated routes: they enable you to take advantage of time-lapse technology to evaluate changes. Video-generated 3D models of identical videos over time can be compared for volumetric changes, for instance. Use cases include tracking erosion, vegetation and crop cycles, water management and changes in snow pack and glacier depth.
How does the Survae time lapse technology work?
This technology is currently in development, but will enable Survae users to automatically observe changes in their properties. The technology works by linking video tracks with each another. The user can slide back and forth in time to observe changes at any location within a video.
Can we request a manual flight that is not based on an automated route?
Yes. For some projects, it may make sense to work with the UAV pilot directly in the field to determine what you want video of. This is easy to arrange.
How much does the Survae on-demand videography service cost?
The short answer is, it depends. Factors that influence cost include geographic location, the ease or difficulty involved with accessing a location, how many locations you need video for, the size of the properties involved, and the type of service requested (3D videography and thermal imagery, for instance, require different skills than recording a panoramic video). That having been said, because we send a lot of work to our pilot network, we believe we can deliver very cost-effective flights for you.
Prices for most flights during the summer of 2017 are estimated to range from $80/hr to $120/hr. Please note that these prices are provided to give you an idea of what the service may cost. You will receive an actual quote when you order a job through the Survae platform.
The Survae platform supports a wide variety of video sources. Whether you bring your own, work with outside contractors or use our service, Survae makes it easy to work with video and data.
How fast will we receive the requested aerial video?
The primary factors affecting the speed with which we can complete a project are location, the size of the property to be flown, weather and pilot availability. In general, please allow 2-3 business days for a pilot to fly your project and then one additional business day for your video to be uploaded, encoded and added to your Terraflix account. If you need your video more quickly, though, we can generally make it happen! 3D mapping and other projects may take longer depending on the complexity of the project.
Does anyone from our organization need to be on site with the pilot?
Generally that’s not necessary if it’s your property or you have the appropriate permissions and have provided them to us. If we are monitoring an easement for you on someone’s property, for instance, you will need to contact the landowner per the terms of your monitoring agreement to alert him or her that a UAV pilot will be coming to perform an inspection.
If the pilot needs special access to a site, then yes, someone from your organization should meet the pilot. For manual flights or for land/water flights that may be complicated, being on site with the pilot is recommended.