Empowering First Responders with Autonomous Drones for Public Safety and Emergency Response

By Baisali

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Tyler, Texas-based Phirst Technologies, LLC - a technology-led, public safety solutions provider - is an early adopter of autonomous drone fleets for emergency response.

This is indicative of the increasing adoption of UAVs by public safety agencies, police & fire departments, emergency operations centers and other stakeholders for disaster monitoring, real-time situational awareness, search & rescue missions, firefighting, law enforcement surveillance, and other use-cases.

At AUVSI Xponential 2019 in Chicago, Phil Baker (Founder-CEO at Phirst Technologies and CEO of Genesis Group) shared his experience in integrating autonomous drones into 911 emergency operations in the US. Phil’s company has launched FIRST iZ - a drone-centric ‘First Eyes for First Responders’ offering for Public Safety Access Points (PSAPs).

As Phil B. puts it, “FIRST iZ™ is a drone system programmed to autonomously fly to incidents at 60+ mph, send live video while in transit, sniff for hazardous gases, hover while still sending live video, and allow commanders to know what they are facing before they dispatch vehicles and people.”

FlytBase is proud to provide the drone automation technology that powers FIRST iZ and enables drone public safety missions, seamlessly integrated into, and managed via, a unified operations dashboard for 911 dispatchers.

The key to emergency response is how fast the central command center, and first responders, can gain situational awareness of an incident, allocate the optimal resources, and rapidly deploy them on site. Phil B. shares his experience in how autonomous drones, powered by intelligent software, can reduce this time by up to an order of magnitude, thereby potentially saving thousands of lives.

Drone Public Safety & Emergency Response

Drones for emergency services have been in the news in recent years - supporting disaster management during hurricanes and floods, when aerial search and rescue is often the only viable option. The next logical step in deploying drones for public safety is to install fleets of autonomous drones ‘in a box’ at strategic locations in populated areas, ready to support police, fire, disaster recovery and other emergency services at a moment’s notice.

Low-latency, real-time HD video feeds, combined with remote gimbal control, turn out to be a crucial capability in drone solutions for incident response - by providing timely, relevant input to decision-makers at centralized operations centers. Similarly, cloud-based fleet management and intelligent path planning help public safety chiefs and UAV program managers schedule, execute and repeat autonomous missions as part of a larger automation-led surveillance operation.

As for the pace of adoption of drone automation across the entire public safety sector, FIRST iZ is a bet by Phirst Technologies on the confluence of a) legal and regulatory tail-winds and b) drone hardware and software technology advancements. While technology leads the two today, Phil expects regulators (eg. FAA) to turn even more supportive of drone programs that benefit society at large - especially those that are security and privacy conscious, well thought out and diligently documented, and driven by reliable technology.

Baisali Gosh

Baisali

Having 5+ years of experience in the niche aerospace and drone/UAV industry, combined with technical proficiency grounded on a practised role as a Geospatial Analyst and a master’s degree focused in GIS and Remote Sensing.