Police drones have become a worldwide phenomenon. Public safety agencies in the U.S., Great Britain, India, Kazakhstan, and Australia, among others, are finding that UAV technology can help their officers and firefighters perform at higher levels in fighting crime and conducting rescue operations.
Recently, Middle Eastern nations made headlines after adding police drones to their arsenals. In Iran, law-enforcement officials with the national border patrol are deploying homegrown unmanned aerial aircraft to monitor illegal entries on the Islamic nation’s borders.
As with many nations across the Middle East, Iran has been forced to focus on immigration issues with the increased influx of refugees fleeing war-torn Syria.
In addition to the fixed-wing aircraft, the border patrol is also using manned gyroplanes.
The operation, a partnership of the national police, Army and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, currently launches 24/7 flights of Iranian-manufactured Shahed-129 drones. According to Jane’s the drone “has an endurance of 24 hours and a range of 2,000 km (though the current datalink is limited to 200 km).”
In the United Arab Emirates, drones will be used for a more mundane purpose – chasing litterbugs. The enforcement arm of the emirate’s waste management department manages beaches and camp sites using one drone and plans call for adding two more this year.
As with many public agencies, Dubai is finding that drone use saves time and money.
“Instead of having municipality inspectors driving across the city, the drones will be able to fly directly to a number of different locations within a short time, and provide us with data and high-resolution photographs,” said waste management director Abdul Majeed Al Saifaie.
Dubai has been a leader among Middle Eastern nations in promoting drone tech. For the past few year, the government has sponsored the Drones for Good competition, “dedicated to transforming these exciting [UAV] technologies into practical solutions for improving people’s lives today.” The 2016 competition outpaced last year’s level of competition which featured 800 teams from nearly 60 countries all vying for a $1.27 (USD) million prize. For 2016, a total of 1,017 projects were submitted from 165 countries. Last month, the UAE hosted the first World Drone Prix as well.