Fighting crime is increasingly becoming a challenge for police forces across the globe, especially in the UK as the number of police officers has dropped 14 % over the last seven years. Officers deal with troublesome situations very often involving people who might harm themselves or others, and the end goal is always to minimize the risk for the public and the subject while maximizing the safety of the officers and bring the incident under control.
When it comes to crime scenes to be scouted from a distance due to safety or tactical reasons, deploying drones has been proved to be an effective way. They can evaluate the risk level and gather intelligence on the suspect’s identity and movements, whether he or she is armed, a possible escape route, and vehicles nearby. With the help of drone imagery and data, the officers can successfully put many critical pieces of information together to deploy effective, tactical plans. Drone usage has increased a whopping 518% in the past two years, with 347 agencies using drones for tactical purposes in the United States alone.
Thanks to a DJI drone, police in Ensenada, a Mexican city about two hours south of Tijuana, cut robberies by 30 percent, making 500 arrests over four months. The overall crime rates dropped by 10 percent. The police department flew an average of 25 missions a day (more than 1,600 total), deciding where to operate based on 911 call volumes.
Police in China recently arrested a fugitive who was on the run for 17 years after he escaped from prison in 2002, all because of their drone. The fugitive, who was in jail on human trafficking charges, was hiding in a cave in a dense, tree-filled area and the drone’s camera revealed a tiny shelter built into a cliffside, along with cooking and sleeping materials.
Let’s now look at five ways drones, equipped with thermal cameras and optical zoom capabilities, assist the police department with surveillance and crime prevention.
Search and Rescue
Search and rescue missions are critical as every second can mean life or death. Drones are ideal for these missions, as officials can achieve a much clear, low flying aerial view of the ground with drones rather than helicopters. Drones also can use thermal cameras in both dark and light situations.
Surveillance involves countless hours of waiting and watching, and sometimes, human eyes and fixed cameras cannot see places and things in areas where there is no vantage point to gain access without being spotted. Although they cannot hover endlessly, a high-flying drone offers the best opportunity to get a solid view of the scene. A suspect can quickly be alerted to an officer or patrol car performing routine surveillance, but surveillance drones keep the mission as discreet as possible.
Crowd monitoring in large events like concerts, parades, and sporting events is no easy task. Understanding the crowd dynamics in real-time can minimize the risks associated with crowd management, such as stampedes, and spot suspicious behaviors, unattended bags, and “violent” postures. In crowd monitoring, drones play a critical role in transmitting real-time data to the crowd control team. They can zoom in on an area of interest and in turn, provide the team with vital information about what is happening on the ground. Such information help ground personnel make critical decisions, and in the event of an emergency, the team can respond efficiently on time.
Heavy traffic is a severe problem in cities, and it requires better traffic management. Traffic monitoring using fixed cameras has a drawback as these cameras cannot cover areas beyond their reach. But drones can overcome all limitations of traditional monitoring due to their mobility and ability to cover large areas. High-resolution real-time videos from drones can help traffic command center to assist on-ground personnel in road monitoring, traffic guidance, traffic activity analysis, identify and track individual vehicles, read license plates, and more. With different types of payloads like HD cameras and thermal cameras for day and night surveillance, drones can provide vital information during major traffic accidents by visualizing the magnitude of the crash and its impact.
Terrorist attacks are highly unpredictable and deadly. Bomb disposal teams typically send in ground-based robots to investigate suspicious packages, but drones are a better alternative to identify explosives and other hazardous materials at a distance. Although they cannot disarm bombs, they can do an initial assessment of the situation and provide intel about something suspicious.