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Blog // Connect Michigan

Advancing UAS technologies in all public safety disciplines

By Connected Nation

Mike Worrell, senior fire services advisor, has been with FirstNet since 2015. He wrote the following piece for It was first published on August 22.  

A long-time FirstNet supporter, Charlottesville Fire Chief Emeritus Charles Werner has been a strong advocate for UAS technology as an additional tool for all public safety disciplines. During his 42 years of service, Werner learned first-hand about the importance of communication and the value of new technologies when responding to major emergencies. With the introduction of UAS devices for public safety use, first responders gain access to aerial views of the incident, as well as the ability to send real-time pictures and data to different locations.

“You actually get a 3-D idea of what’s happening at an incident scene and that’s really important for a responder.” Werner says. “I can take that video from the drone and connect it to the FirstNet network and be streaming live video to all those people that are decision makers – whether they’re incident commanders or the emergency operations center – simultaneously.”

Werner recently initiated efforts to create the National Council on Public Safety UAS. In this capacity, Werner works to advance public safety use of UAS through awareness, education, training, collaboration and best practices. As interest in UAS technology from emergency first responders dramatically increased in recent years, the Council is keeping the public safety community informed about the evolution of UAS technology and its benefits, and gives public safety a voice to lend valuable guidance and influence as significant decisions are made about UAS issues.

Guidelines on public safety UAS

When the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released new guidance about UAS in 2016, the council played a key role in educating public safety disciplines about making this technology more accessible, efficient and safe for public safety use.

These new guidelines on public safety UAS use was one of several reasons the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) made the decision to adopt UAS technologies to enhance and support tactical operations. The LASD will use UAS devices primarily for search and rescue missions or when deputies are in dangerous situations, such as during explosive detection, hazardous materials incidents, disaster response, arson fires, hostage rescue, as well as armed and barricaded subject calls.

The adoption of UAS technologies is expanding across all public safety disciplines as an additional resource for first responders to make better decisions in life-threatening situations. To advance 911 capabilities, the Spokane County Regional Intelligence Group 9 (RIG 9) in Washington State built a real-time analysis capability for 9-1-1 centers in the region.

RIG 9 analyzes video camera inputs and other sensors, such as UAS deployed around the city. These feeds could be part of a next generation 911 deployment, with the resulting analyses rapidly forwarded via FirstNet to responders for real-time decision-making during a crisis.

Read the rest of Worrell's story at and learn why he believes FirstNet will help public safety personnel make more informed decisions during times of disaster


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