The Importance of Drones for Public Safety

A public safety officer operating a drone in a forested area.

What is a Drone?

A drone is an unmanned flying robot that can be controlled remotely or programmed to fly autonomously using flight plans in its embedded software that works in conjunction with onboard sensors and a global positioning system (GPS).

Why are drones important for public safety?

The unique characteristics of drones, working in conjunction with AI solutions, assist on-site security officers in their precarious missions, allowing them to focus on decision-making. Meanwhile, drone use in public safety helps reduce operational costs and makes physical security cost-effective for businesses of all sizes.

Examples of drone use in public safety

    • Law enforcement: Patrol drones are used to track suspects, verify eyewitness accounts, and monitor areas with criminal activity.

    • Firefighting: Drones are used to fight urban fires and wildfires. They can provide an aerial view of the fire and allow incident commanders to analyze the true scope of the situation and allocate resources accordingly.

    • Search and Rescue: Drones are a useful tool for search and rescue missions, as they can be deployed very quickly and come with high-resolution cameras, which increase the chances of locating people who are lost or missing.

    • Disaster management: In the aftermath of a disaster like an earthquake, hurricane, flood, etc., drones can be deployed to map the entire affected area within a few hours or days. These 2D and 3D maps can be used to analyze the devastation and allow the emergency management team to make informed decisions concerning the allocation of resources.

    • Delivery of valuable resources: Drones can navigate weather conditions and terrain that other delivery services cannot. Thus, they can deliver valuable resources, such as medicine, first aid, or food, to remote or hard-to-reach locations.


pre-implementation considerations drones in policing
Source: A Report on the Use of Drones | Department of Justice

What are the benefits of using drones for public safety?

    • Fast data acquisition: Fast data acquisition is very important in any type of emergency, whether it’s a wildfire or assessing the aftermath of a natural disaster. Drones provide effective means of gathering data, leading to better decision-making, a more robust response, and safety for personnel and the public.

    • Saving lives and keeping communities safe: Drones are proving to be helpful in search and rescue missions due to their ultra-portable design and multi-sensor payload capability.

    • Saving time and money: Drones are small, compact, and powered by very strong batteries that allow them to be deployed very quickly, which is of huge benefit in an emergency.

The future of drones for public safety

Over the past years, the use of drones in the security industry has faced controversy with uncertainty surrounding FAA regulations, safety, privacy, and technical issues. Still, drone technology is expected to grow in the coming years. In fact, forecasts report that the global commercial drone market, valued at USD 13.44 billion in 2020, is likely to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 57.5% from 2021 to 2028. 

With industries across the globe increasingly adopting drone technology to improve safety, drive efficiency, and gather data, it seems certain that drones will continue to transform public safety indefinitely.

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