On April 10th, 2017

Law Enforcement – Unmanned Systems for Spring Break beach safety

When reaching out to industry to apply our Human-Centered CAARMA™ Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Solutions Suite, we noticed two large early-adopters of UAS technology:  Inspection Services and Law Enforcement – the latter being a bit more dynamic in its approach.

As we enter the month of April and Spring Break season, we are seeing numerous law enforcement organizations looking to deploy UAS to monitor beaches and respond to rescue calls.  Many have either considered buying a drone or purchased a drone (many of which have sat unused due to regulatory limitations).  For instance, Miami Beach Police bought two drones to monitor "life-threatening" situations in the Beach's high-rises. South Padre Island also bought drones last year to monitor the beaches for Spring Break (although didn’t).  Myrtle Beach Police Department, Virginia Beach, Horry County South Carolina, Palm Beach, Newport Beach, and countless others have also had plans to use drones over the past few years.

The use of Unmanned Systems for law enforcement at the beach is fascinating.  With beaches spanning long distances and the typical battery life on a UAS being measured in minutes, one could imagine a concept where numerous UAS formats would have to be leveraged to provide wide-reaching and sustained coverage.  Of course, the law enforcement organization would have to work its way through numerous regulations based on the various UAS applications.

Envisioning this scenario, one could imagine moored balloons deployed in intervals down the beach, with the ability to monitor a vast distance from fixed locations.  Then, fixed-wing unmanned systems deployed in a flight path to fill gaps between balloons.  And for immediate response, quad copters could be deployed to gain a closer situational awareness.  To stay legal, all these applications would require positioning to avoid operations over people (perhaps over the ocean) and other considerations regarding prohibited activities (unless a waiver is granted).

In beach towns where the normal population might be in the thousands, but jumps to the hundreds of thousands during spring break, this kind of systematic approach might provide the ability for police departments (that are often under-resourced) to better anticipate and respond to incidents.

While there are many benefits of this kind of approach, there are also many aspects to consider when assembling the concept of operations.  The law enforcement organization must consider not only FAA regulations, such as operations over people, distance to airports, manned aircraft operations, and special event Temporary Flight Restrictions; but also, the state and local laws regarding the flight of UAS, privacy, and surveillance.  There are many components in the concept of operations and Evans incorporated can help to plan those while staying within the law.

-Greg Caramanica, Business Development Manager, Unmanned Systems