Nahid LaCiura of Los Angeles increased safety and business by adding UAS
Tell us about yourself and your background
I have always been intrigued by advancements in technology and we definitely are in a time of unprecedented technological growth in every industry. Embracing the new technology and staying up to speed with the changes of our times has always been a goal of mine, both personally and professionally in order to avoid becoming obsolete. Combining that interest with my passion for land development, creativity, design, planning and architecture, it is no surprise that I truly enjoy working on development projects and transforming neighborhoods and building communities.
I founded LaCiura Consultants in 2010 by offering land subdivision and entitlement services to commercial, residential and mixed-use development projects in the greater Los Angeles area. Documenting (photographing) the before and after of any project and capturing progress photos is a must. At large scale developments, regular cameras simply can’t get the job done. There is so much to be photographed, involving hard to reach and dangerous angles and views that can only be captured from above…..As with any technological revolution, when drones became available and sophisticated enough for public use, I opted in to take advantage of it to improve the services we offer to our clients. Now we offer a variety of drone services to development projects and the telecommunication industry involving tower mapping and inspections.
How did you get started in the drone industry?
I had always enjoyed photography and when I found out about drones, with high quality cameras and excellent 4K video recordings, I had to get one. At first, I was using it as a hobby and it was my new toy and I would take it on all my travels. Soon after, the FAA released the Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate which allowed me to be licensed and be able to use my drones commercially on projects. We were one of the first companies in the area to offer drone services on development projects.
Tell us about your organization and your role.
I am the founder of LaCiura Consultants. We are a certified woman-owned small business (WOSB) offering land subdivision, entitlements, civil engineering and drone services to commercial, residential and mixed-use development projects in the greater Los Angeles area. We also offer telecommunication tower mapping and inspection services using drones throughout the State. Our drone services include tower mapping, site surveillance, roof and tall structure inspections, progress photos and videos of construction job sites, data collection for maintenance and inventory management purposes.
What do you like most about being in the drone industry?
We are definitely living in exciting times. It is very rewarding to be a trail blazer in your industry and sector. Although drones are nothing new, drone technology is at a much more mature state. With current rules and regulations in place, we can now utilize drones to go above and beyond for our clients and increase our accuracy, efficiency and safety on every project.
What’s your favorite type of project and why?
Projects where we can improve job safety, accuracy and efficiency using a drone. Before drones, tower mapping involved a person climbing up a 250-foot tower to take pictures and measurements of all antennas on the tower. This was very risky, time consuming work with lots of room for error. Now, we can easily map all details of a tower and their exact elevation and location. The entire team including the engineer can review the footage and refer to it as needed during the design, analysis and construction.
Please share a success story.
Our client, a survey firm was trying to survey the location of a failed pipeline on the hillside, a very hard to reach area.There was a landslide and the pipe had broken off. The surveyor had tried to do the survey using conventional survey equipment.Their field trip ended by him rolling down the hillside & getting badly injured. He came to us; we were able to establish the exact elevation of the pipe, capture photos and videos so they could have a close look at the condition of the pipe before starting reconstruction.
What excites you most about the potential for women in the drone industry?
This is a huge opportunity for women to get involved. There is already an extremely high demand for remote pilots and an explosive growth is expected over the next few years. Currently women make up only about 5% of certified remote pilots in the US which is a dreary statistic that shows the lack of women in STEM industries. Even the FAA underestimated the growth of drones. They now expect that certified remote pilots will soon outnumber private and commercial pilots combined.
What’s your favorite drone to fly?
Phantom 4 pro. It’s reliable and dependable.
What has been your most significant “light bulb” moment since you entered the industry?
When I first started flying drones, I soon realized the majority of the public knew little about drones and there was public mistrust. Many worried that drones would be used to spy on them. Over the years, that perception has changed drastically, and we owe that to the FAA regulating the industry and educating the public on drones. As an early adopter of drones, I feel the responsibility to educate the public when possible in order for them to embrace the technology and feel safe around it.
Is there a tip you learned you would like to share with other women in the industry?
Having a system and protocol in place for your drone operations is key for starting and expanding your UAS department. Even if you have only one pilot or you are the only pilot, it is important to establish a pre-flight and post-flight checklist, establish a flight log and a maintenance log for your aircrafts to ensure safe flying habits as you grow.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the Women and Drones Community?
While aerial photography is perhaps the most obvious commercial application for drones, it is only one of many. When it comes to expanding the drone services you offer, be creative, talk to your clients and ask them about their needs. You will be surprised to discover additional services you can offer your clients by simply replacing a conventional way of doing a task with the drone to get the job done faster, easier and more accurately.