Processing GCPs with DroneDeploy

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Check out our 6-minute overview video for a summary of this article:


To ensure your GCPs process accurately and efficiently, it's imperative DroneDeploy receives specific pieces of information for your project. Please review this guide prior to adding GCPs to a map.


GCPs with the following criteria will be easier and quicker to process
Requests containing 1000 images or less and/or GCP targets are unobstructed and clearly marked with an X or checkerboard larger than 4 sqft.

Let's explore the workflow to process your GCP data using DroneDeploys in-browser tagging tool:


1. Add the GCP Information to your Map while uploading images via Smart Uploader 

Please check out our Smart Upload guide for instructions on how to add your GCP data when uploading your images via Smart Uploader. 


1a. Add the GCP Information to your Map via Legacy Uploader 

After flying your site with GCPs you will upload your imagery. Once you have selected your images for upload (but before you start processing your map) select the Ground Control Points option.

If you need a refresher on how to upload imagery in DroneDeploy check out our guide here


Click on the "Ground Control Points" option to add the GCP information



Upload the GCP .CSV file

Uploading Propeller AeroPoints to your map? Download the .CSV file from the Propeller dashboard and follow the instructions below in order to upload the file to your map! Available July 19, 2022. 

Download the GCP file template that best suits your collected GCP data. The template will contain example coordinates and formatting as a guide. You will need to add your own GCP coordinates to the template. It is very important you keep the formatting the exact same! 

For more information and downloadable templates please read our GCP .csv File Formatting documentation.


Download one of the GCP templates. make sure that your elevation units reflect the same units as your selected EPSG code.

Once you've added your GCP information to the template, save it as .CSV and then upload it into DroneDeploy.


Upload your completed GCP file into DroneDeploy as a .CSV file


Adding Checkpoints?

Now you can add Checkpoints to your GCP process. Adding Checkpoints helps you to validate the relative and absolute accuracy of your GCP maps. To learn more about it, please visit our GCP Checkpoint guide.


Type the EPSG code

Next, add your EPSG code. A full list of codes can be found at Spatial Reference

Make sure you ask your GCP surveyor what EPSG they are using. You can also request WGS84 (EPSG 4326) before GCPs are measured.
If you are a drone service provider it's also important that you ask your client if they require mapping data in a specific EPSG code. You must have a valid EPSG code to use GCPs with DroneDeploy. We cannot process maps that do not have an EPSG code.
If your GCPs are measured in a local or arbitrary coordinate system that is not listed in the EPSG Geodetic Parameter Registry, you will need to follow our custom coordinate projection workflow.

Select your EPSG code


Confirm GCP information

Once you have finished the above steps, you will be asked to acknowledge and an email will be sent to your DroneDeploy account email address in order to start the GCP tagging process. Once acknowledged click Add GCPs




You should now see your imagery locations and GCPs on your map. Now you are ready to start processing your images and GCPs by clicking the "Upload Images" in the bottom left corner of your screen. This will kick off the map for processing! 





2. DroneDeploy Starts Pre-Processing Your Map

DroneDeploy will begin pre-processing your GCP map. Once the pre-processing is complete you will receive an email that will either take you to our in-browser GCP tagging tool or notify you that the GCPs have been auto-tagged.


Having a hard time finding the email? You can also go back to the Upload tab to see if your map is ready for tagging. If so, you'll see an upload card notifying you to "Tag GCPs". Click this upload card to start the process.



3. In-Browser Tagging: Verify your .CSV

If your GCP .CSV was successfully read by our auto-tagging tool then this step will be skipped and you will proceed directly to step 4.


If we encountered a problem with your .CSV or EPSG code, you will receive a red error at the bottom of the coordinate box. There are multiple reasons why your GCP data may throw an error. Here is a link to some common error codes and how to fix them.

Here is what the GCP .CSV Editor will look like in your browser.


4. In-Browser Tagging: Primary GCP Identification.

Once your GCP .CSV has been accepted, you can start selecting each GCP point. To do this select the GCP you would like to start with and use the in-browser user interface to locate the GCP target.


5. In-Browser Tagging: Secondary GCP Refinement.

Once you have located and tagged the correct GCP target. You will be prompted to carry out a secondary refinement to make sure the exact pixel is selected. This is important to ensure the highest accuracy is achieved within the map. There will be up to 8 images validate in the secondary refinement stage. It is important to complete all 8 to achieve the highest accuracy within the map.


If one of the markers is undetectable during the refinement you can exclude the marker by unchecking the blue square in the top right corner of the image.



Using Non-Conventional GCPs

Because the GCP workflow allows the user to tie in their own GCPs, you can now use non-conventional targets within your map. This makes it much easier to show up to a site and utilize well-known features as targets rather than conventional targets.


How to Skip a GCP While Tagging

Because sites change frequently, sometimes a target will no longer be visible on an active project. If you need to skip a GCP you can do so by clicking on the "Skip GCP" in the upper right-hand corner during the initial workflow of finding the target within the map. This can greatly improve the accuracy of the overall map once it has been processed with GCPs.


6. In-Browser Tagging: Preview Markers

Once you have tied in all of the markers on the map, you can click Preview in the top right corner. This will preview how many tie points each marker selected has within the map.

It is not recommended to use markers that have less than 3 tie points. If you do have a map that has multiple markers with 4 tie points or less it is recommended to increase overlap and altitude within the area of interest being flown.



7. In-Browser Tagging: Submitting Your GCP Job

Once you have validated the tie points, press submit. That's it, you're done! You will receive an email once your map has completed the final steps to increase the accuracy of the map on our servers.

Give yourself a high five. Better yet, high five one of your co-workers! This stuff gets complicated quickly and you just nailed it.


8. Viewing your Results

Once your map has been completed, we will send you an email with a link to your map. You can generate the accuracy report of the finished map using the Processing Report found in Map Details.





GCP locations will now populate on the completed map as media markers! 

1. Within the Media section on the left side panel you can select Ground Control Points




2. You can toggle on and off the GCP markers and view the latitude and longitude associated with each point.






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