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Drones to photograph 32 mile long artwork after successful appeal
High Water Line. Photo: Pete Bedwell.

BRISTOL.- Aerial photography of the largest artwork ever to be commissioned in the UK, a 32 mile long drawing in Bristol, will be carried out by drones following a successful appeal by organisers of the HighWaterLine project.

Residents from each Bristol neighbourhood are marking a section of the 32 mile route before handing on to the next to show what the city will look like underwater.

From the air, the drawing will look like a contour on a map. It represents the high water point of future flood predictions.

Alice Sharp, Director of Invisible Dust said: “I feel the only way to properly appreciate the size of this artwork will be when viewed from the air. It is vast. We are delighted that Bristol Drones have stepped in to help us.”

Philippe Francken, Director of Bristol Drones said: “The UAV (drone) I am using for the HighWaterLine project will be a DJI Phantom 2, with a DJI H3-3D gimbal that holds a GoPro Hero3 camera. Attached are also a DJI Ground Station transmitter and a video downlink module. It is a quad-copter, i.e. has 4 spinning propellers, which are controlled by a logic board inside the aircraft.”

Time is running out
Time is running out as the drawing is only temporary. It is being drawn in chalk and although it looks permanent is designed, somewhat ironically, to wash away after a few heavy downpours.

The line marks the highest point that floodwaters will reach, it represents a worst case scenario and is the Environment Agency’s best possible prediction of current highest water levels from tides and rivers. Flooding is likely to increase in frequency and severity as a result of sea-level rise and increased rainfall but the predictions currently involve a lot of uncertainty. Knowledge, therefore, of the high water mark for an area is particularly useful when making preparations for flood surges.

Bristol has been chosen because it is one of the world’s most vulnerable places to flooding. The area has been subject to massive flooding disasters in the past due to its proximity to the Bristol Channel, which has the world’s second highest tidal range. (1st Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia 15.4 m (Spring range) 2nd Bristol Channel 12.6 m).

Art mimics real life
Although the project is using drones, in this case, to capture the size and scale of an artwork, drones could actually start to be deployed across the UK by water companies keen to avoid the severe floods like the ones that hit the UK earlier this year.

Invisible Dust asked Philippe Francken, Director of Bristol Drones the following quesions:

1.What footage would we get from this project?
“I believe we can get some amazing footage (video and photos) from high up showing the High Water Line and it would put more into perspective what would be under water and what would not be. A line on the pavement from a person’s perspective does tell us that this is where the boundary is, but as soon as you have an aerial view, you suddenly realise how devastating it could be if it were to flood. It will definitely have a big impact on people.” - Philippe Francken, Director of Bristol Drones

2. What are the future use of drones?
“There are so many applications for UAVs/drones, it is hard to name them all. For this project it will highlight the issues when flooding would occur and make people realise what they need to protect or do in order to avoid damage to their property and livelihoods.

Another example of where UAVs can be used is in the farm industry. If a crop field can be surveyed from above and the farmer can be told that a particular spot might need more fertilising, they can then be more precise with what they need to do, without having to blanket their whole field.

A further example would be for search and rescue. A UAV can cover a bigger area in less time than a search party and can, in most cases, come lower and closer than a conventional helicopter.” - Philippe Francken, Director of Bristol Drones

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