Last week, we had the pleasure of hosting a Public Safety UAS Demo Day for a number of public safety agencies looking to build or further develop their drone program. We held this event at The ACC Public Safety Training Center in Kyle with our partners at Austin Community College, who offer a 100-hour continuing education program that includes training and support for setting up operational public safety drone programs.
A variety of topics were discussed throughout the day as we demoed the DroneSense Platform both in the classroom and from ACC’s mobile command center. Here are some of the highlights:
Understanding Rules and Regulations
Since many of the first responders in the room were just beginning to form their drone programs, there were several who were unfamiliar with both Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COA) and Texas Government Code Chapter 423. If your agency is creating a public safety drone program, it’s critical that you understand the various requirements for keeping your program compliant with both federal and state laws.
For public safety agencies in Texas, we recommend using Texas Department of Public Safety’s UAS Standard Operating Procedure as a guide for creating your own policies that ensure your program is operating legally.
Planning for Poor Connectivity
One of the toughest challenges of public safety drone missions is maintaining a solid network connection throughout the mission. When you’re relying on sending live video and telemetry from drones on scene to incident command through an interface like DroneSense OpsCenter, internet access is everything. It is essential to the success of your drone program to equip your pilots with the internet service providers (ISPs) that best meet your needs. Some important questions to consider:
- Which provide the broadest areas of coverage?
- Which are best suited to deal with heavy network traffic, such as video?
- If your organization is eligible, is a First Responder focused network (like FirstNet) available?
- Does the ISP have a clear policy on data throttling for heavy use; and if so, do they have explicit policies for First Responders?
- What mobile hotspot devices do they offer or support?
With any event, be sure to have a backup. Access to an alternate ISP can mean the difference between success and failure.
Effectively Coordinating Multi-Agency Missions
Public safety drone programs do not exist in isolation. It was clear to everyone at this event that some of the best opportunities for drones to provide value are in large-scale events that draw support from multiple agencies in an area. Standardizing on training protocols and technology will ensure that these types of operations run smoothly. At DroneSense, we’re excited that the technology we build can be used to help enable successful collaborative drone missions.
It’s always an honor to get a chance to show the DroneSense Platform to first responders face-to-face and learn about both the successes and challenges they’re encountering with their drone programs. If you’re interested in having DroneSense come to your area to host a Public Safety UAS Demo Day, please reach out to Lisa Messelt at firstname.lastname@example.org.