When natural disaster strikes, even trying to assess the damage can be a difficult, time-consuming, and dangerous task. Smart Digital Sales & Holding GmbH (SD) came up with an idea of how to use new technology to solve this age-old problem: drones. By combining drones, high-resolution cameras, and artificial intelligence, SD can scan for issues faster and more safely than ever before.

SD’s innovative drone solution has the potential to transform many industries: agriculture, infrastructure, public safety, and more. Working with Pure Storage®, SD supports the big data and analytics that give SD customers a whole new perspective on their challenges.

Today we’d like to celebrate how SD is bringing change by awarding the Pure Storage Change-Maker of the Year title to Wolfgang Kalny, CTO for Smart Digital Sales & Holding GmbH.

Bringing Change and a New Perspective

When an SD drone takes flight over an agricultural field or a disaster site, it has about an hour to capture images of the conditions below. With state-of-the-art measuring devices, laser systems, and spectral and thermal cameras, the drone captures images at extremely high resolutions—around 50MB of data every second, for a total of 180GB per flight. That means every year, SDC drones capture nearly 1PB of data.

Capturing and storing the data is one thing, but SD and Kalny’s team must also analyze it—feeding the images into sophisticated AI algorithms that can recognize patterns and make predictions. The use cases are virtually limitless, but the company is already helping its customers:

  • Evaluate the avalanche danger on alpine slopes and issue public warnings sooner
  • Detect damage to high-voltage power lines and enable proactive maintenance
  • Assess the damage after a flood, drought, or forest fire to help insurance companies process claims faster
  • Survey agricultural fields to help farmers plan their sowing, irrigation, and harvesting

Transformation Pro Tip: Make the Complex Simple

SD’s entire business hinges on managing and moving large volumes of data with exceptional precision and speed. The enormity of the job doesn’t phase Kalny. He chose Pure Storage FlashBlade® for a reason—to provide the reliable performance SD’s algorithms need to process image data at speed and scale, without a lot of work for the IT team. In fact, just one person manages the storage infrastructure.

“Our goal is to offer solutions that add value for our customers and are as highly automated as possible,” says Kalny. “When we spend less time managing infrastructure, we can spend more time working with our customers, whether we’re developing algorithms for analyzing vegetation or training AI for new customers.”

Indeed, SD is staying hyper-focused on innovation and growth. It continues to look for new applications for its drones and pattern recognition algorithms, such as monitoring offshore wind farms to help operators keep them up and running. With an infrastructure robust enough to support new projects, the company is in a great position to keep driving digital transformation for itself, for its customers, and for the world at large. That’s what makes Kalny and the SD team the Change-Maker of the Year—and we can’t wait to see what they tackle next.