The Drones that Protect Us
By: Ian Vernon
Years ago when people talk about drones the first thing to come to mind are military drones (Unmanned aerial vehicles or UAV) used in war. Those days of drone definition are long gone, today when people talk about drones they think about nice looking aerial pictures and videos, including those we see in movies. The explosion of aerial photography as a hobby made out a lot of new drone manufacturers on the map in particular DJI, Parrot and Yuneec find the most success). Recently drones have become popular for industrial usage from farming, to surveying to inspection to operations and maintenance. Drones are also becoming instrumental tool for responding to emergencies and rescue operations.
In the past weeks, there are several trials shown on how drones can help us in emergency situation including providing network coverage in areas where there is a need for increase in coverage and capacity of mobile networks. Although flight have been demonstrated as largely autonomous, most control are still human enabled, especially launch. For drones to be fully effective in emergency response situation they must be able to launch and fly with full autonomy and with the right kits to provide support. Though with a timeline of 3 to 5 years before drones capable of carrying humans are available, there are a lot of emergency cases where we can already respond to today.
With all the talk about emergency response using drones, the key is having an effective artificial intelligence that can manage not only the drone launch and flight but the entire ecosystem from Citizen to Public Safety Access Point. I am not advocating to hand control of emergency services to an AI, however the process have to be seamless and putting the Citizen in the the centre of any solution being created. To fully create a solution that can address the entire ecosystem is a challenge since the triggers to launch the drone and the instructions to the drone have to be smoothly coordinated and in a very short period of time. It’s a similar challenge when e-112 and e-911 were first introduced providing PSAP dispatchers location of the emergency they are responding to.
One possible Emergency Response use case using drones is a full ecosystem from user to PSAP where a user triggers an emergency request through his/her phone, which is then picked up by an AI and launches a drone and first responders to the scene. The AI will then coordinate the emergency response efforts and provide first responders with the relevant information to be able to address the emergency situation more effectively.