Author(s): Raghu Gopal
Last week, the European Emergency Number Association (EENA) together with DJI announced a partnership to find methods through which drones could be integrated into first-response missions. The programme is being developed as a blueprint to be launched later this year and aims to gain insight into how aerial technology can add value to emergency service providers.
EENA was established in 1999 in Brussels and is dedicated to promoting high-quality emergency services by dialling 112 throughout the EU. The organization currently includes more than 1,200 emergency service representatives from over 80 countries. DJI is a China-based manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles used for capturing video and still images.
The use of drones has grown beyond the military during the past few years, and the devices are now being utilised for enterprise purposes. Some high-profile business cases include delivery drones, mapping, agriculture, and aerial film and photography. But now drones are being used to help first-responders save lives.
The joint programme will train teams of pilots in Europe to use the latest aerial technology, such as thermal-imaging drones that make it easier to find people and pets and ascertain temperatures at sites. At the end of the training, EENA and DJI will share best practices with the broader international emergency response community to promote the safe integration of drones in emergency situations.
The first two trials will be with Greater Copenhagen Fire Department in Denmark and the Donegal Mountain Rescue Team in Ireland. In Denmark, the focus will be on the use of drones for firefighting as well as safely reporting on chemical and car accidents. The team in Ireland is already using applications created with DJI's software development kit to coordinate search and rescue missions in remote areas, so the new focus will be to improve real-time networking techniques and crowd-sourcing capabilities.
Despite controversy and increased regulations, the enterprise drone industry is just settling in. Several US public-safety agencies as well as others around the globe have already deployed drones. For example, police forces in Cornwall, Devon, Surrey and Sussex in the UK have begun a six-month trial using drones to look for missing persons, assist police at crime scenes and traffic accidents as well as help with general aerial photography. We expect drone technology to become more acceptable as businesses work with regulators. They will be particularly advantageous in life-threatening situations where pilots could be at risk.
The use of drones in these situations will be another facet of the Internet of things. The need for widespread connectivity could offer a boost to mobile operators and component makers like Qualcomm, which is pursuing opportunities in deploying these small flying machines.