Drone Public Safety

Avision fleet operations management system for public safety with BVLOS support, live video streaming, and extended situational awareness

Drone Public Safety

In recent years, technology has been advancing at a rapid pace and now offers aerial intelligence capable of solving complex public safety issues, saving people’s lives, and securing property. In particular, drone public safety market growth can be attributed to a new generation of reliable machines, advanced sensor capabilities, and flight operation management software. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) provide new benefits to first responders, police, and fire departments. Emergency response operations utilize UAVs for search and rescue, forest wildfire protection, and damage assessments after the hurricanes.

Public Safety Drone Software Provides Effective Solutions for First Responders

First responders, including police and fire departments, discovered various use cases where unmanned aerial vehicles are ideal. UAVs allow operators access to the areas where they would otherwise have extreme difficulty getting access to and provide critical aerial intelligence in real-time. Additionally, public safety drone software, built specifically for the industry, greatly improves the possibilities of drones helping public safety agencies.

For instance, existing FAA LAANC functionality unlocks automated flight authorizations for pilots in controlled airspace. Furthermore, an Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) system enables critical UAV capabilities and extended support for first responders. Most importantly, UTM offers emergency response personnel airspace situational awareness. Knowing where assets are deployed, reserving and deconflicting airspace between manned and unmanned operations is invaluable for airspace managers and for pilots on the ground. Here are some of the key software features that make drone public safety operations most effective.

BVLOS Operations Support

Avision provides increased mobility and operational visibility by allowing pilots to fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). This is especially useful during Tactical BVLOS portions of the flight such as a drone temporarily leaving the pilot’s line of sight while going around the building. Avision’s UTM system tracks the operation and displays the status and telemetry in real-time both to the operator controlling the drone via ground control station and on the map via web interface at the command center. Moreover, the UTM system monitors conformance of the flight to its planned operational volume, alerts the operator in case of a contingency event, offers corrective actions like safe landing or return to the base, and automatically informs all the other airspace stakeholders. Recently, Tactical BVLOS operations were approved by the FAA as an essential capability which is now utilized by many drone public safety programs.

Avision App for Drones

Live Video Streaming for Situational Awareness

Having a UAV with a camera is an important capability for the first responder piloting the drone. However, the information is limited to one individual and requires extra communication effort while valuable time may be lost to report the status to the team members. Avision’s App provides pilots with the ability to initiate video streaming back to the command center in real-time. It allows the operator to switch between various types of payloads including first person camera view, thermal imaging, infra-red or night imaging, and many others. The video stream is then accessible from an internet browser by the chief commander and the rest of the crew. Real time video sharing provides the team with extended situational awareness, enables quick access to the information, and expedites the decision-making process.

Remote Identification (Remote ID)

Network Remote ID (RID) is one of the UTM services and is based on the ASTM F3411 standard, Avision acts as RID UAS Service Supplier (USS). Information flows in real-time from the 3rd party ground control systems (via Avision API integration) or directly from Avision App utilized for flight control. Avision RID services are already operationalized in Switzerland and are currently available in the US on an opt-in basis.

Additionally, Avision’s App acts as RID Display Provider by aggregating the UAV RID data from Avision and other qualified USSs. Identifying information about the drone and the owner is displayed on a map and is available to public safety, airport security, law enforcement, and private citizens. Having RID information at their fingertips allows public safety agencies to identify precise drone positions and either contact the UAV operator or get to the area of the operation in case of an emergency.

UAS Volume Reservation (UVR)

In addition to LAANC and RID, UVR is a third major foundational pillar of the UTM system. UVR is similar to Temporary Flight Restriction but is usually limited to UAVs, shorter in duration, and encompases a smaller coverage area. Avision’s UVR functionality enables authorized public safety agencies to restrict airspace during events such as fires by creating UVRs directly into the UTM network. When created, a UVR constraint is shared with all of the airspace stakeholders such as drone public safety agencies involved in the operation as well as commercial and recreational pilots in the area. Upon UVR activation, Avision informs drone operators that utilize Avision’s App or 3rd party ground control stations on how they should react. The system provides real-time notifications to all UAV operators ensuring that airspace remains restricted for the length of the emergency operation. This system also automatically accommodates contingency management events and dynamically adjusts operational volumes when the shared airspace is impacted by a UVR.

Drone Operations for First Responders

Many first responders are already accustomed to deploying drones unlocking a wide array of safety applications. As first responder agencies have already established drone programs for their emergency response operations, there are numerous examples where drones act as an alternative to human first responders arriving first to the scene, sharing vital information, and enabling crews to become more effective in performing their tasks. In many cases, having a UAV in the hands of a first responder makes the difference between life and death. Here are some examples of how police and fire departments utilize drone technology.

Police Utilize Drones to Save Lives and Protect Property

As police started to invest heavily in drone technology, they discovered a variety of ways to use UAVs to help protect people. Drones assist with tracking potential risks related to criminal activity, monitoring critical infrastructure, and providing protection during public outdoor events. Many police departments use UAVs when situations are too dangerous to deploy people to a crime scene or there is a need for aerial intelligence in complex urban environments. Drones provide a safe and efficient solution for police conducting security assessments and de-risk law enforcement operations on the ground. UAV technology enables police to map and reconstruct crime scenes faster and more accurately. Monitoring drone traffic from the convenience of a mobile application in the field or from remote police stations via internet browser is invaluable in assessing risks and timely averting threats to public safety.

Fire Departments Utilize Drones to Remotely Conduct Assessments

Fire fighters are often placed in situations that are very dangerous and involve risk to their lives. Images and video streaming provide immediate feedback to the command center which then gets disseminated to the crew in real-time. Wildfires pose another huge threat to firefighting personnel. Drones enable emergency response teams to monitor the progress of operations, track the edge of a fireline, identify hot spots, and deliver needed critical supplies to the frontline. Natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes also require fire departments to respond. As a consequence, it is important to perform quick assessments of large areas and identify the most critical locations requiring physical deployments. In these cases, long-endurance UAVs are capable of quickly mapping the area and providing vital information to the command center to enable timely assessments and decision making.


Texas A&M University
Corpus Christi Fire Department

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