In the wake of the series of brutal winter snowstorms that slammed New England earlier this year, the local fire department in Plymouth, Massachusetts, used drones to survey the extent of the damage. It was one of many good examples of how the emerging technology can be used at the local level.
Here’s another case study of how unmanned aircraft can be powerful tools for government operations: In Hawaii, agencies and researchers are integrating drones into their work to not only save taxpayers money but also limit accidents on the job.
Drones are giving federal government researchers the ability to model beach erosion along an entire stretch of shoreline in minutes, according to Honolulu Civil Beat. Before the use of drones, modeling just a small section of sand would take months.
University of Hawaii researchers monitoring groundwater runoff no longer pay $1,000 an hour for a manned aircraft on pre-approved Federal Aviation Administration flight paths. A drone costing roughly the same amount offers large-scale mapping in real time.
“Since it’s our tax dollars paying for this research, it’s great to see such interest in using technology to not only save money, but to speed the research and the application of the results, all while saving time and keeping everyone safe,” Jason Rushin, a Civil Beat contributor, wrote in a recent guest article.
But drones are being used off the beach as well.
Monotonous jobs like surveying farm irrigation systems can sometimes be dangerous for pilots. Those flights are now being replaced with drone technology.
Honolulu’s fire department, which covers the entire island of Oahu, uses such unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to safely spot brush fires.
With increased drone use has come the emergence of the Hawaii Drone Club, whose members to facilitate their everyday use, while one part-time resident’s manufacturing company plans to make the devices “smartphone simple”—guided with the swipe of a finger.
Hawaii’s drone users still have to contend with the FAA’s requirement that UASs be flown within the line of sight of the operator.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com