How Drones Are Transforming Local Government

Jordan Fraczek  |  April 16, 2019  |   Drones,

It's 2019, and drones are finally making their way into the municipal spotlight. Cities and counties are starting to use drones for all types of purposes, and the value proposition has never been higher. Drones promote safety, efficiency, and self-sufficiency. In this blog, we will explore how drones are providing municipal departments the information they need, and how drone imagery can be put to work in online mapping systems (like MapGeo).

Drones for Planning Departments

Planners and community developers can use drones to enhance the project review process and track projects before, during, and after development. Within four hours from leaving city hall to completion of a map, city planners can capture their own site analysis.  Drones are capable of making their own imagery mosaic with very little user-level input. 

Economic developers can also benefit from drone imagery. Drone imagery makes for great marketing collateral for economic development departments. They provide dramatic flyover videos that can make great fodder for marketing events and tourist attractions. 

It should be mentioned that in order to fly a drone repeatedly in your municipality, you must apply for an FAA Part 107 permit. 

Drones for Public Safety (Police and Fire)

Using drones, police departments can be trained on crime scene documentation and collision review investigation. Drones can fly a crime scene with incredible 2 cm accuracy (much more accurate than airborne or satellite imagery). This allows law enforcement to paint a complete picture when crimes do happen. Drones can often paint a far different picture of what's going on just by having an elevated point-of-view. Police can also use drones for event or parade security by getting a view from above.

Gloucester, Massachusetts (a MapGeo community) recently held a municipal drone training for police and fire departments led by Dr. Stephen Young, Professor of Geography at Salem State University.

Fire departments can benefit from drones in a number of ways as well. Local fire departments are just now scratching the surface of how drones could be used in active emergency situations, such as searching for hot surfaces or for other heat signatures coming from buildings. We predict this sort of drone engagement to be standard practice among fire departments within the next 10 years. 


Drones for Public Works and Engineering Departments

Public works departments are starting to use drones to conduct inspections on power lines, pipelines, towers, or any other object that requires routine inspection. In addition, DPWs are also using drones to evaluate storm damage and track overgrowth. Drones can be used to inspect hard-to-reach areas like high up vents and cables. In cases like these, drones can often pay for themselves in one or two flights. Also, using a drone to conduct inspection allows you to keep a physical record of the inspection for future reference. 

At AppGeo, we are seeing municipalities use drones to inspect water towers that are dangerous to climb in winter time and hard to get to in the summer. Planning departments are also beginning to leverage drones for mapping and imagery data. 


Topic: Drones,