Faces of TC: Meet Brooke Jones


The Innovation Center is the research and development branch of Transport Canada. So we are helping Canadian innovators develop the product to a point where it's commercially viable and providing the first real-world test of their innovation.

My name is Brooke Jones and I'm a research development officer in the Innovation Center at Transport Canada. I work on the rail research and development team.

My role is in the area of climate change adaptation, so I'm helping the rail industry adapt to the changing climate. So more frequent and heavy rainfalls, more freeze-thaw cycles, permafrost degradation.

Spexi came to us through the Innovative Solutions Canada fund. Spexi is a software to automate drone flights and one of my colleagues brought it to me and asked if I would have any application for this in the rail space. And I already actually had two projects that were using drones to do some monitoring.

It wasn't necessarily a use case that they had foreseen, but because of the projects that they had going on already, I saw an easy link between the two of them. I have a landslide monitoring program in the Thompson River Valley, in B.C., that has also expanded into the Assiniboine River Valley in Manitoba. So these are two very critical sections of CN and CP Rail that are in valleys that are prone to mostly slow moving landslides. And then I also had another project that was monitoring water levels around rail tracks because pooling water in new areas can cause washouts in the track. So I paired Spexi with actually both of those projects.

So with their technology, you can program your flight and then once you launch your drone, it will automatically fly the same flight plan over and over again, which is great for us because if you want to do change detection, we have the exact same flight plan repeated at certain intervals and you can see how the previous flight map and orthomosaic and digital surface model changes from the most recent one to see how movements are happening.

By doing this type of analysis, we're able to help prevent washouts or disruptions to our transportation infrastructure, such as rail lines, that are a very key part of the Canadian supply chain.

This project has exceeded expectations. We achieved our goals and then more.