The FAA is kicking off a drone safety awareness week, from November 4th through 10th, 2019. Drone safety is in our hands, you know this, you control your drone and ensure it is handled safely. From the FAA’s perspective, there is more to a safe flight than just making sure you don’t crash, they have many rules and regulations for drones, all designed around safety for other air traffic, as well as for people on the ground below.
Day one of the FAA’s Drone safety awareness week is for Public safety and security.
Search and rescue tasks have been in the news a lot in a positive way, folks using drones to help save lives is a fantastic thing, and the world is up to well over a hundred confirmed cases, or so DJI says. Admitting that any camera in the sky can be a solid search and rescue tool, the best resources include a camera, an IR camera, a speaker and maybe a microphone to rely messages, a light and perhaps a delivery system to drop medical supplies. Precise GPS reporting is crucial as well, seeing a person on the ground and knowing where they are can be two different things.
Fire resource drones are a different thing entirely. The task is for reconnaissance, mostly. In the old days, fire fighters on the ground in a forest fire may have been hand-delivered a fire map that was fairly old, like, up to twelve hours old. With a fast moving forest fire, those maps could get people killed. Today, a long-endurance drone can provide near-real-time mapping to boots on the ground. In addition to saving lives, this helps immensely with logistics and strategy. When command knows exactly where the troops are, and what issues may be headed their way, fires are directed under control must faster and better.
With few exceptions, the FAA and other agencies prohibit drone flight around emergency situations. A rogue drone can divert rescue efforts and cause more harm than good. If you want to get involved, do so proactively. Reach out to your local search and rescue entity. Offering them your services (as a Part 107 certified pilot?) can go a long way. Emergency command can guide you further, and offer some unique authorizations to fly in areas that nobody can.
In terms of getting involved to help solve crimes or hunt down criminals, that’s a little tough. You can reach out to your local law enforcement agency, but with the need for certification of authenticity of any flight footage, and proof of accuracy of video metadata, it is more likely they have their own drones and pilots they have to rely on. Of course, if you happen to be out flying legally and capture photos of video of a crime, pass that over to the police, it may not be admissible evidence, but it certainly helps solve crimes.
Bottom line, safety is in your hands, drones can be used for good, and we can all work together to save lives with drones. Please get involved, just remember that if you are not a part of the official operations, you are likely in the way of other efforts to save lives. Fly safe.
Catch up on all of the FAA’s safety week content
Day 1: Public Safety and Security
Day 5: Education and STEM
Day 6: Recreational Flyers
Day 7: Recreational Flyers
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