YORKTON – Among the many vendors at this year's Parkland Outdoor Show and Expo was a local drone service operation specializing in geomatics and surveying.
"CDK basically offers a lot of different drone measurement services," said Cassandra Kowalchuk, owner and operator of CDK Drone Services based out of Canora.
Kowalchuk said she entered the world of geomatics after completing Saskatchewan Polytechnic's Geomatics and Surveying Engineering diploma program in 2012, from there she went on to complete her degree in Geomatics at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.
"I started out in Saskatchewan, but in order to get the Bachelor of Science degree for it I had to go out to go out [to BC]," said Kowalchuk, adding, "Sask. Polytechnic offered a bridge for it, so I got my first two years here and went and finished off the degree out there."
"When you go to school for survey geomatics you learn how to use a lot of the data- you're learning how to get proper precisions and accuracies - all of the fundamentals of surveying," said Kowalchuk of her education.
After spending some time working the trade in BC, Kowalchuk moved back to Canora to be closer to her family.
"I could not find proper employment in my educational realm," said Kowalchuk, adding, "I decided I wanted to start a company - I wanted to do something with technology, obviously."
"I was looking at my options and a lot of the survey-type stuff is very expensive to start up with," said Kowalchuk, noting, "there's a lot of other licensing issues that I would have had to go through to have a proper survey company."
Kowalchuk said she looked at drones and their initial investment and decided to purchase a DJI Phantom RTK, which uses Real-time kinematic positioning, an advanced technology in satellite navigation.
"I went to work as soon as it arrived," said Kowalchuk.
In 2019, Kowalchuk started CDK Drone Services which began servicing her hometown of Canora and the surrounding area.
"I started off doing gravel stockpiles," said Kowalchuk, adding, "it turns out gravel is a massive thing for business."
The drone would gather measurements from the stockpiles in order to get an accurate estimate of how much was available.
"Usually [the estimate] is pretty accurate - you obviously have to consider some density stuff - your base levels, cubic meters, cubic yards."
Now, several years later, Kowalchuk said her business has expanded to include other industries while utilizing new and advanced technologies.
"We do some lidar (light detection and ranging), thermal (images created using infrared radiation), NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index)- detecting crop health, stuff like that," said Kowalchuk.
These different technologies carry multiple applications for different types of industries.
"We do a lot of gravel stockpiles- commodity stockpiles," said Kowalchuk, adding, "we are getting into power line surveys, fire, search and rescue."
Kowalchuk said she hopes to get involved with other industries and organizations as well.
"We're hoping to get involved with wildlife federations, any of the conservation groups - start tracking deer, elk, wildlife populations," said Kowalchuk, adding, "when it comes to safety and other things, we can send up a drone and we can find somebody missing in the bush."
Kowalchuk possesses several different drones with different applications. On display at her booth at the expo was the DJI Matrice 300 RTK.
"This is our heavyweight guy - this is the one that does all of our pipeline stuff, oil rigs, power lines - our search and rescue unit as well," said Kowalchuk, adding, "there's a lot of different attachments you can get with it - specialty sensor stuff."
"We're getting into crop management as well, and we have access to a sprayer drone for spraying your crops - it's huge - about double the height of this one [Matrice 300 RTK]."
Kowalchuk commented on the practicality of using drones for search, rescue, and forest fires.
"When it comes to safety and other things, we can send up a drone and we can find somebody missing in the bush," adding, "there's companies that come out of other provinces to manage the fires in Northern Saskatchewan because we don't have anybody doing it here."
Kowalchuk recalled one of her experiences with an out-of-province company.
"I'm actually in touch with a company out of BC now - working with them to hopefully give them support this year as well," said Kowalchuk in regards to northern forest fires, adding, "I actually gave them one of my drones when they were here last year - I drove up to The Pas in the middle of the night to go and give them a drone because theirs broke down."
Kowalchuk sees the benefits of owning a drone and wants to get people into the technology.
"Maybe you don't want to hire me, but maybe you want to buy a drone," said Kowalchuk, adding, "I don't do direct sales, but maybe I can get you in touch with my guy - I can come out and do demos with you with all of my drones."
"I want to talk to people and get people involved."
For more information on CDK Drone Services visit their website.