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A team of City of Cape Girardeau employees has been reviewing the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs), more commonly referred to as drones, to improve public safety and infrastructure services, efficiency and employee safety. The team hopes to begin using the drones by early 2017, pending City Council approval of a budget appropriation from casino revenue at their August meetings.
How Will the City Use Drones?
City uses will include disaster relief, firefighting, search and rescue, training, civil engineering, mapping, construction, law enforcement, and other applications that will help staff be more efficient, and in some cases, safer.
Drones minimize the danger to which operators are exposed, allowing trained employees to visually enter dangerous environments like fire, smoke, hazardous waste, threatening weather or violent situations. Public safety usage might also include security, search and rescue, ability to view under/over waterways, and more. Drones can also be used for engineering and surveying tasks that would otherwise require more people and time to complete. For example, a team of staff that currently surveys the sinkhole activity on South Sprigg on unstable ground can now program a drone to survey the area, thus removing employees from a potentially-hazardous situation.
The City team recommended three drones to be designed according to their intended use as stated above. Two of them will be used by the Fire and Police departments, and a third will be used by Development Services and other City Departments when available. Public access to recordings will be subject to certain public safety and other restrictions, but will otherwise be available by request.
Is Drone Use Common?
The use of drones has become a very popular tool for local governments in our region and across the country. Drones have been the subject of many local and national news stories covering private and public uses of drones.
- Southeast Missourian “FAA loosens rules for commercial drone use”
- KFVS “Latest tool for law enforcement: Drones”
- NBC “Teens Use Drone to Track Boat Thieves”
- PDF: Number of registered drone users in southeast Missouri, by zip code