Research: Lack of Training Hinders Public-Safety Drone Operations
Tuesday, November 05, 2019 | Comments

The lack of standardized training and certification is the top issue hampering public-safety drone operations, according to DRONERESPONDERS. The finding is from a double-validated research initiative based on survey data, as well as live focus group feedback conducted during last week’s U.S. Public Safety UAS Summit in Las Vegas.

The report “Commercial Vendors and the Public Safety UAS Sector” highlights the top five most important issues affecting the public-safety drone sector as airspace authorizations and certifications of authorization (COAs); beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations; training; standards, procedures and certifications; and program budgeting. The findings were based on the survey conducted between Aug. 25 and Sept. 16.

The focus group additionally validated the research findings. These results pointed to the lack of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) training and certification standards as being the most pressing issue facing first responders operating drones. Rounding out the top five were tactical BVLOS waivers, public outreach and education of drone operations, budgeting and grant funding, and data management.

Charles Werner, director of DRONERESPONDERS, said that without formalized standards, the UAS training and certification landscape is like a “patchwork quilt of home-grown training solutions” that threatens the ability of public-safety agencies to build consistent operating practices between jurisdictions.

Other key findings from the report include that long flight time, visual zoom and thermal/infrared capabilities are the top three desired features by public-safety UAS operators. Search and rescue (SAR); situational awareness/live streaming; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) are the top three UAS missions ranked in order of importance to first responders operating drones. The sweet spot for manufacturers to price a small UAS with combined visual and thermal/infrared remote sensing capabilities is between $2,000 and $5,000. The full report is here.

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