Community Spotlight: Daniel Windham


You may know him as the reigning GIF king on Twitter or as @dwindham in this space, but to us he’s so much more than that. This month, we’d like to introduce you to another all-star community member, Daniel Windham.

Daniel has consistently been awesome in engaging with not only us but other members of our community with a positive attitude - even when things don’t go as planned. Most importantly, he’s eager to learn and openly shares his experiences so others can see the perspective of DroneDeploy through a user’s point of view.

Enough from us - we’ll let Daniel take it from here.

Daniel Windham

What is your background and current role?
I started off at HHNT (Hodges, Harbin, Newberry, & Tribble, Inc.), a civil and environmental engineering firm, right out of college in 2011 as an environmental scientist. I’m still an environmental scientist but I’ve also added on the roles of a drone pilot, computer specialist, and head of our GIS program. I work in the same city I grew up in: Macon, GA.

How did you become involved in the drone industry?
Since the start of my career I’ve worked with GIS and aerial imagery to make amazing maps. I became concerned with the imagery and how often it was updated. I needed to know what sites looked like in real-time and needed current up-to-date images of facilities for my work. I’ve always loved technology and have read various tech blogs every day since I was 8. As drones became more evolved I noticed that people used them for industrial purposes so they looked like a viable option for up-to-date imagery. Today I use drones to map areas for many reasons, especially for Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs). Each of these reports has a site map, and by using DroneDeploy I can easily capture, process, and export aerial imagery to GIS where I can then overlay the data that helps site managers maintain compliance. Before drones, many SWPPP maps were black and white AutoCAD drawings or maybe a Google Earth drawing, but the detail by using drones makes the difference. It makes the maps easier to understand and much more valuable for the onsite employees and compliance managers.


How did you come across DroneDeploy? Why was it ultimately the solution you decided on?
I looked at different services and DroneDeploy stood out because of it is cloud-based and easy to use. We did eight flights in my first month and all my flight plans were successful. I’ve completed over 100 maps for our clients since then. With DroneDeploy I can map multiple sites and have the maps ready the next day.

What was your biggest challenge when introducing drones to your company?
The cost of drones was an issue, but we were able to pay it off in a month from all the projects we completed. Drones were relatively new at the time too, so it was hard for people to understand the technology without being involved or educated on the subject. In my head, it just made so much sense but I couldn’t really tell anyone how great it was - I just had to show them. Once we got the first one going, the value was pretty apparent.


What advice do you have for beginners?
The most important thing is to figure out how the drone will fit in your overall program. You need to think long term about your goals. Learn how to use the DroneDeploy App Market and find tools to help your company. Lastly, perfect how efficient you can be so that way you can repeat success.

We couldn’t agree more, Daniel. Interested in hearing more about his mapping jobs or learning more about how he’s using them for stormwater pollution prevention plans? Reach out to him on his LinkedIn or Twitter.