Drones are changing the way business gets done in agriculture, energy, and telecommunications, but did you know that drone services are making just as big of an impact in your community?
We typically think of drones as a way to inspect industrial processes or annoy your neighbor, but cities nationwide are moving quickly to implement the advantages of drone technology for their first responders, city planners, and law enforcement. What does that mean for your community? The prospect certainly sounds ominous — after all, it looks an awful lot like “Big Brother” when governments and data collecting drones mix.
Fortunately, police departments are already following a safety roadmap to ensure drones are used to their fullest potential in hopes of creating a better, safer, and more positive police force. First and foremost, every police department begins their drone practices by creating a map of the city. These orthomosaic maps are used for various reasons, from mapping schools for active shooter situations to documenting crime scenes, and all of them provide police departments with the one thing they need most — information.
Police are referring to their 2D and 3D maps to preemptively plan for the proper tactics and investigations needed to minimize risk when a situation turns sour. The better first responders understand a situation, the better they can handle it.
Next, police are seeing excellent drone use when it comes to traffic and event management. Cities that host large events have found that drones help see crowd movement in real time, which helps organizers plan for better crowd efficiency while police can monitor the entire situation and allocate officers exactly where they’re needed.
This same philosophy is being applied to traffic management. Police have typically only been able to dictate traffic after an accident from specific locations along the road, which severely limited their ability to manage traffic as a whole instead of from one chokepoint. Along with traffic light inspection and accident analysis, cities are already starting to see where the flow of people and vehicles can be improved.
How else are police departments using drones? Perhaps most importantly, they’re using them to save lives.
This is accomplished two-fold. The first way is through enhanced search and rescue efforts. Drones allow police to cover more ground at a more efficient rate than with helicopters or on-foot efforts, which have resulted in hikers, accident survivors, and missing persons being found in otherwise dire circumstances.
The second way is through informational de-escalation. It’s no news that American police officers are facing increasing levels of backlash from communities when a situation goes wrong. Many of these events are due to the intensity of a tough situation made worse by the split-second decisions officers have to make every day to either save or take a life.
It’s an impossible situation, but drone de-escalation efforts are being used to help officers and communities alike through on-scene monitoring. By accessing the scene from the sky before arriving on foot, police officers have access to critical information that can help paint a more accurate picture of the threat level of any given situation.
The monitoring can simultaneously be used to record by-the-book police interactions in conjunction with body and dash cams, granting another layer of protection and accountability to every police force implementing drone technology. Drone uses like this are already seeing dividends for police departments applying them with the right UAV tools, training, and systems to ensure new practices help, rather than harm, our communities.
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