At DJI Airworks in LA today, Angad Singh of Pix4D demonstrated a product that hasn’t yet been officially launched, but is being used by emergency responders all over the country: Pix4Dreact.
Pix4Dreact is designed to provide fire, police and public safety personnel with high resolution 2D mapping – “instantly, and anywhere.”
“In the last year and a half from the industry perspective, we’ve seen a lot of adoption in public safety,” says Singh. “But it’s also the feel good use case. We know that drones are out there actually doing good… and Pix4D wanted to make a product for that market.”
“Public safety refers to ‘Tactical Planning,'” says Singh. “We call this ‘Tactical Mapping.’ In an emergency, information can save lives. In a tremendous amount of applications, this is a product that is going to do a lot of good.” Designed specifically for the public safety sector – although, Singh says the company expects to see creative uses of the product – Pix4Dreact has several unique characteristics that make it ideal for use in field.
Use it On (Almost) Anything
Many technologists are accustomed to high powered, fast computers. But public safety departments may not have invested in compute power. “A lot of times the computers that public safety sector individuals are working with are not that powerful,” says Singh. “But all of them have access to the Toughbook™, or something similar. So one of the first things that we wanted to do was to create something that that could be used on one of those computers.”
The product is also compatible with most drone cameras – and Singh says that the company is committed to making it compatible with all cameras commonly used in public safety.
Easy to Use
Singh shows a simple workflow: open up your flight planning software and fly your area – then use the “sneaker net,” taking the SD card from the drone and putting it into the computer to process the map. That’s because users may not have the time or the connectivity to upload data to the cloud: the software is desktop based, so it does not require an internet connection.
The software is remarkably easy to use. Singh demonstrates a 4 button process to produce a map – which processes in live demonstration in under 2 minutes. The result is a high resolution 2D map: “but faster and cheaper than you’ve ever been able to do it before, with computers that you already have,” says Singh.
Users may add annotations and take measurements from the map, and compare maps to satellite images or a previous map. Then, the map can be exported to a GeoTiff, PDF report, .p4r or Log file: “because there is no point in gathering data if you can’t share that data with the people who need it,” says Singh. “The goal is to be compatible with as many systems as possible.”
Priced for Availability
Pix4Dreact has been priced for availability to public safety departments with limited budget for software and technology. User licenses for the software will be available at $49 per month, and less than $1000 for a perpetual license: a defendable price for a clearly useful tool. “We want to get this technology to the people who need it the most,” says Singh.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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