A Brazilian company is carrying out a trial with drones to reduce property tax evasion in a town in the northeastern state of Pernambuco.
The equipment is being used by tax collection agency Crescite, who works on behalf of the local government, to measure properties in the city of Paulista and get information needed to calculate the tax amount for that particular unit.
"Properties - particularly in more affluent areas - often get extended without an official permit and increase in value, but the amount of tax they have to pay also increases and people are not paying that extra amount, so the government is losing out on revenue," Crescite's diretor Paulo Resende tells ZDNet.
"The drone technology will allow us to get more accurate data on these properties in a cost-effective way, speed up the process of updating property information records and ultimately reduce tax avoidance," Resende adds.
A trial covering an area of Paulista with high levels of tax evasion and some 20,000 houses will commence next month and is expected to last three months.
Crescite will be using the Phantom 4 device from drone manufacturer DJI and software from a Brazilian provider. The company has invested a total of R$150,000 ($44,000) in the hardware and software needed for the trial. The project team comprises of 10 professionals, including some independent consultants.
According to Resende, who expects a "significant" increase in tax revenues as more accurate property information is obtained through the new technology, the privacy implications have been considered.
"We don't have any interest in filming anyone. The only thing we are interested in is the aerial imagery which will give us the correct measurements of properties and will blur any images of individuals that may appear in the material," Resende says.
"We are also having to comply with a number of government requirements to be able to use the equipment and have our legal team following any changes in legislation closely - as drones are a relative novelty here - so we can ensure we are playing by the rules," he adds.
Assuming the trial is successful, the scope of the project will be extended and the drones will be integrated into the company's tax collection services in other locations by year end.
Crescite currently operates in the northeast region of Brazil and hopes that the drone technology will help the company deliver information on properties to governments faster, as well as its expansion plans into the southeast region of Brazil, where Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are located.