Faster and more efficient emergency response with drones.
Innovation is essential, not just for businesses, but also for organizations such as the police. The use of new technologies allows us to provide faster and more efficient assistance. One of the technologies the police are currently deploying is drones. Police operations specialist Remco Aagtjes talks about the impact a police drone can make.
When we think of a police drone, we do not have to think of a futuristic society in which everyone is constantly watched by a drone. In fact, the pilot project we are currently running focuses on a different aspect of policing. Remco says: “The drone we are testing in this pilot project will be used for emergencies such as crime scenes or traffic accidents. As soon as the call comes in, we can send the drone to the site and take photos of the situation, even before the officers arrive. This allows us to have a visualization of the site as it is. We can then direct more people when, for example, there is a chaotic traffic jam due to an accident, or we can quickly see where a suspect is headed after, say, a burglary. Also, searching for a missing person can be done much faster from the air.”
INCREDIBLE TIME SAVINGS
Currently, the project is still in its pilot phase, but drones are already being used operationally. “In 2018, we saw drones becoming more commonplace,” says Remco. “So we asked ourselves: could they also be a useful means for us to do our work better? It soon became clear that the time savings could be enormous. Using a drone to capture and measure a crime scene or traffic accident is much faster than deploying an analyst with a van. But having an overview of events and festivals from the air is also very valuable. This way, audience and traffic flows can be monitored well.
If we can also control the drone remotely, we won’t have to wait until the drone pilot is on site before we can start taking footage. For incidents such as a traffic accident, we can now quickly assess whether scaling up or any specialized deployment is needed.” Of course, during the pilot phase, the police are also asking citizens about their opinions. “Our pilot actually looks at three aspects,” Remco outlines. “First of all, of course, there is the technology that allows us to link the drone to the control room. Second, we look at social acceptance. How can we let people know that our drone is in the air, and for what reason? We asked students to think about this during a creathon and we are also organizing citizen panels. Third, there is the legal framework: how does this comply with the law? The most important thing in all of this is that we can optimize safety and our emergency response.”
DRONE NETWORK FOR ASSISTANCE
The third aspect still provides us with some challenges. In fact, it is not currently allowed to control a drone outside your field of vision. “This is only allowed under strict conditions,” Remco explained. “As the police, we have to comply with the same rules as everyone else. Fortunately, we can use the test space at Space53 on the Technology Base. We are now fully committed to getting waivers to be able to fly out of sight. If we prove this can be done safely, we can move to an operational setting in Twente. Eventually, it would be great if we had a drone network for emergency services across all of the Netherlands. By moving with the technological developments of the times, we can optimize our assistance with a smart and convenient tool.”