Folk-rock paragon John Mellencamp once wrote in his chart-topping, 1980s hit – “I’ve seen it all in a small town … had myself a ball in a small town.” For the drone industry, Mellencamp’s love affair with Anytown, USA may strike a fresh chord when it comes to the public-safety market.
Miami, Okla. (pop. 13,000), for example, is living up to its big-city namesake: The city’s first-response team (both police and fire departments) recently announced the launch of a UAV pilot program that will use their new DJI Inspire to pursue high-speed suspects, assess crime, fire and disaster scenes as well as search and rescue.
“It’s a multi-use tool that we can use for every department in the city, it’s not just for police work,” Miami Police Chief Thomas Anderson said in a media release.
“We can actually send it into the air and look for structures that might be, you know, in at risk from wildland fires, which we’ve been seeing in the last two weeks across the great State of Oklahoma,” added Fire Chief Ronnie Cline.
Miami officials bought the $5,400 drone, camera and upgraded accessories package using a federal flood grant, according to the Miami News-Record.
In a recent council meeting, Miami City Manager Dean Kruithof said the idea began with the suggestion of a municipal paralegal following severe flooding a few years ago – flooding that left officials high and dry when it came to updated information.
“I thought that was the dumbest thing I’d ever heard of,” Kruithof said. “But over the last years seeing the advances of drone technology, going through things like this flood, we really could have used a drone to take a look at some of these problems that we have, and for other applications,”
Now, the drone is ready for service and has been dubbed “Krista” in honor Krista Duhon, the paralegal with a bright idea. The city will officially deploy the drone after a 60-day training window.
“We’re currently testing it and writing a very extensive policy and procedure for it,” Anderson told council members. “There are some federal guidelines and FAA registration we are complying with. I think it will be a valuable tool.”
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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