Emergency response agencies across the globe are using drone technology as a tool for surveillance, firefighting, search and rescue, investigations, disaster response and other operational requirements. These tools enable public service agencies to efficiently gather intelligence data that aid in protecting and serving the public. Time is of the essence during emergencies, drones can be deployed by first responders much faster and cheaper.
Fire departments deploy drones with FLIR sensors to gather actionable intelligence when fighting fires. Traditionally, incident commanders relied on verbal communications from crew. Drone technology aids radio communications with visual intelligence such as thermal imaging for hotspots, enabling crew to strategically target the fire.
Law Enforcement agencies are able to collect irrefutable court evidence using drone technology. Operators can collect data in a matter of minutes compared to hours. Furthermore, unobtrusively by removing the human factor from the scene that could contaminate evidence. Integrated collision investigation deploy Phantom 4 RTK drone systems to accurately document and recreate accident scenes for evidence and further analysis.
The first 18 hours is critical to the survival of lost victims. Search and Rescue teams deploy drones technology to quickly search land plots that would traditionally take hours for rescuers to traverse. Thermal imaging sensors enable crew to spot heat signatures from humans, further enabling the ability of night searches that is dangerous for manned aircraft operations.
During disasters, crews can rapidly deploy drones into the danger zone in order to spot humans that may be trapped. Giving rescue crews aerial intelligence information to provide prompt rescue missions. Post disaster, drones can be used to efficiently collect up-to-date data from the environment in order to effectively plot and plan for disasters.
Drone technology is not a replacement for manned aircraft or crew, but rather a supplementary tool. Despite the possibilities, drone and sensor technologies are still limited by the operational environments. Dense tree and vegetation coverage for example would make it impossible to spot a person using passive imaging sensors.
Most prosumer grade drones have limited flight times defined by battery capacity. This may not be viable for applications such as searching in vast areas that may require hours of airtime. However, with the constant improvements in technology, alternative power sources being integrated into drones will soon turn minutes into hours of flight time.