Bethany College professor Rande Repp recently returned from the Commercial UAV Expo Americas 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Keynote speakers included James Bridenstine, Administrator of NASA, who expanded on NASA’s “A Vision For the Future” presentation, which includes the expanding use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) aka “drones”.
The non-profit group DroneResponders hosted a portion of the Commercial UAV Expo which pertains to public safety. A panel of experts included representatives from the Los Angeles Fire Department, which is currently using UAV monitoring to combat California’s wildfires. Also represented was the Chula Vista, California, Police Department. Chula Vista has implemented a Drone First Responder (DFR) program, in which a UAV is launched simultaneously with officers being dispatched to a call for service. Many times, a UAV pilot can determine the nature of a complexity of a scene and provide critical information to first responders. This can range from observing that a disturbance has already disbursed, allowing backup officers to attend to other calls, to providing life-saving information about the size and nature of a hazardous material spill at an accident scene.
Breakout sessions included information on UAV integration, training, FAA compliance, and liability mitigation. The group also voted to emphasize standardized training, tactical Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) waivers, and public outreach during the period until its next meeting.
Professor Repp will be using this information to plan upcoming courses for Bethany’s Criminal Justice program. Bethany College currently offers courses on UAS/UAV operations, which helps students from all disciplines earn their FAA Part 107 pilot’s license, and forensic mapping, which teaches students how to use UAV’s and other technology to create diagrams of crash and crime scenes