The police drone
Many police operations are extremely complex. Documenting crime scenes, searching for missing persons or monitoring so-called high-risk events are just three areas of operation that require a great deal of manpower and time. But how can this workload be reduced? Many police departments rely on a new technology: the police drone.
Where the police drone is already in use
The drone market has been on the rise for around three years. In addition to private users, more and more authorities are now using drones. While the police in other countries are already using such flight systems on a large scale, drone missions are rather rare in Germany. In this country, the aircraft are primarily used in four cases:
Crime scene documentation
Police drones can be used to survey crime scenes from the air with millimetre precision. Police officers can use the images to create three-dimensional models on their computers. This gives investigators a better overview of the crime scene - at the same time, the police authority benefits from a reduced deployment of personnel.
Drones really come into their own when searching for missing persons or in law enforcement. In addition to their flexibility of use, they outperform ground forces above all in terms of speed in terrain that is difficult to access. In addition, high-quality drones can be equipped with thermal imaging cameras and zoom lenses. These technical refinements facilitate the search enormously, as heat sources are often the only recognisable features in extensive terrain.
Figure 1: Thermal image of a suspect fleeing from the air
Civil protection is a particularly difficult task. Police officers and other emergency services must quickly gain an overview of the situation. In addition to the conditions on the site, analysing potential danger spots plays a major role.
The use of drones offers enormous support here. The emergency services can record the area from the air and document the course of an accident. Dangers, for example from collapsing buildings, can be recognised at an early stage . People in distress or buried victims can be localised in good time and rescue teams can be deployed in a targeted manner.
Figure 2: Aerial image of a missing person, left with RGB view, right with thermal image
In other countries in particular, the police drone is also used for general surveillance measures. Police officers monitor regions from the air. It is not yet clear whether this procedure is also possible in Germany.
Particularly strict data protection rules apply in this country. In Germany, for example, the police drone was used at a demonstration against a Castor transport in 2010. Critics then accused the police of violating the personal rights of demonstrators with the footage. The use of drones in this way is still controversial.
One field in which drones are already a reliable partner is traffic monitoring. The greatest danger on the road is posed by lorries on motorways that do not keep a safe distance. A drone is an excellent way of measuring distances and taking drivers out of traffic preventively.
In the worst-case scenario, an accident or breakdown can lead to a traffic jam stretching for kilometres. With traffic flow monitoring, emergency services can recognise emerging traffic jams at an early stage and can more easily take measures to divert traffic. This form of deployment is also suitable for road and infrastructure planning. Flowing traffic is the basis for a high level of road safety - and ultimately also relieves the burden on the police!
In Spain, even traffic offences documented by drones can be punished with fines. In the Federal Republic of Germany, there is no legal basis for this. The stricter data protection laws require a new legislative procedure for this use, which would take an estimated one year.
Figure 3: Animation of traffic flow monitoring from the air
It offers these advantages
The police drone offers police officers many advantages: not only do they assist with crime scene documentation, disaster control and surveillance, they also save valuable time during operations.
Drones can generate large amounts of data for a comparatively low price. With trained personnel, they can be used in the fields of application already mentioned. Nowadays, drones are also used in parallel with helicopters . Thanks to the position lights and transponders in a drone, important communication between the two pilots is possible. The helicopter is by no means replaced, but rather supplemented in line with the times.
Caution: What those involved need to consider when purchasing!
The flight systems need special features to support the authorities in their tasks. Buyers need to keep a close eye on various criteria. For example, the drone should
- beweatherproof so that it can be used at any time,
- Comply withdata security standards,
- fly as quietly as possible so as not to disturb neighbours,
- have lighting that can be switched off so as not to attract attention during searches,
- guarantee stable live image transmission,
- have the lowest possible probability of hardware failure,
- have a thermal imaging camera to locate people in the dark,
- be able to zoom in as close as possible to the area in order to discover details,
- beeasy to operate so that police officers can utilise all drone functions.
Our recommendation: The DJI M300 RTK
Authorities can't just buy any flying system and rely on it in an emergency. On the contrary: there are only a few models that are suitable for police operations.
One of these is the DJI M300 RTK model. The manufacturer is known for its precise recording devices and offers various cameras that police officers can integrate into the drone in a matter of seconds.
It is also possible to use two cameras simultaneously. With this police drone, officers are also able to combine a zoom view camera with a thermal camera. This allows them to reliably capture the smallest details.
the patented MSX mode allows police officers to orientate themselves particularly well in the thermal camera image: in this mode, the thermal image integrates the body edges that are captured with the normal camera. This gives emergency services an improved overview.
Another reason for our recommendation is the transmission protocol of the flight system. The model uses OcuSync 2.0 - one of the most reliable transmission protocols currently available on the market.
The tracking mode is also practical for police operations: the drone stands in one place in the air and tracks any object with the camera - even if it is moving. However, to get the most out of a flight system, it's not just the hardware - the software is also crucial.
Even more power: how powerful software supports the drone
In addition to the right police drone, authorities also need powerful processing software. We also make a recommendation in this regard: Rely on Pix4D.
This enables emergency services to create a digital map from the drone's camera recordings. In addition to 2D models, they can even create three-dimensional models of locations.
What is the advantage of these maps? Quite simply: police officers can
Recognisedetails more easily on three-dimensional models,
Measuredistances between different elements more accurately,
calculate the volume and areas of certain objects.
In addition, investigators always have the opportunity to look at crime scenes retrospectively as they were found. Even weeks later, they can use the programme in the office, for example to view the three-dimensional image of a bullet hole or a car accident. This greatly simplifies analyses.
The software also shows its strengths in disaster operations. Within a few minutes, police officers can use it to convert a large number of recorded images into a 2D map and plan the operation using this model. The software helps to save lives.
Train staff properly
Nothing is worse than expensive technology that is not used. However, this is often the case because the personnel have either not been trained at all or only insufficiently. To avoid this, it is advisable to familiarise yourself with aviation law and the technical features of a drone. The influence of the weather should also not be neglected and can make or break a successful mission.
Training is therefore essential and should take place at the appropriate training centres that specialise in the subject. It is also possible to develop individual standards as part of specialised training for the police.
Why authorities should rely on the police drone
The police drone is already being used successfully in many countries. In Germany, too, more and more authorities are relying on the flight systems. The reason for this is obvious: drones can be used flexibly, save costs and reduce personnel and labour costs.
Police drones are primarily used for surveillance activities, disaster control and crime scene documentation. However, police officers do not need just any flying system for these purposes - they need one with special features.
The DIJ M300 RTK drone has many special features that also make it attractive for police operations . With the appropriate software, emergency services can even create 3D maps from drone footage and better analyse crime scenes. This not only makes it easier to analyse crime scenes - in an emergency, a detailed map can form the basis for a successful operation. Police officers can immediately recognise potential sources of danger and take them into account when planning operations.
Do you have further questions about the police drone? Feel free to contact us! We will clarify your individual concerns in a non-binding discussion.