Surrey Search and Rescue gets powerful insights with Airdata UAV
The value of drones to search and rescue operations:
We had a chance to catch up with Simon Green, Head of RPAS, at Surrey Search and Rescue the other day to see how he's using Airdata UAV as part of their operations. Surrey Search and Rescue is comprised of 70+ volunteers who assist local fire and police to find missing persons or in disaster response situations, like fire or flooding.
For Simon and his team, drones have become part of their standard response protocol. Up until recently, local police and fire departments in the UK relied on air support from the National Police Air Service (NPAS) which had a fleet of helicopters and planes that would be made available as needed, and available, to local public safety agencies.
Over past few years, their reliance on NPAS has changed as more and more search and rescue organizations are acquiring and deploying drones. This not only provides them with dedicated equipment, as opposed to relying on a shared resource, but a much lower cost point (use of a helicopter typically costs in excess of £1,400 per hour to operate) and much safer way to perform their jobs.
Airdata UAV enabling drone operations:
Standing up the drone operation at Surrey Search and Rescue isn't as straightforward as it sounds.
We're dealing with a group of volunteers who have day jobs and other responsibilities, in addition to the very important work they do for us, says Simon.
So, we needed to find a system that was very intuitive to use and didn't create loads of additional work for our volunteer pilots. Airdata makes the collection of all the flight data we need extremely easy, taking a significant burden off our pilots of having to gather or record their flights manually.
With Airdata, we're able to avoid putting something in the air that could introduce more problems during police action
More importantly, our pilots bring their own personal drones and we rely on them to maintain the drones so that they can be deployed at a moment's notice. With Airdata, we're able to see where the equipment is in its maintenance cycle, assess readiness, and avoid putting something in the air that could introduce more problems during a response or police action.
The advanced analytics has been particularly important for us to spot anomalies in the batteries and ensure everything will work as expected in the field. We're operating in a wide variety of conditions and unless you're trending this data over time, you might miss something.
Airdata helps us ensure our pilots maintain their hours and training
We also use Airdata to track Pilot Currency. We need to make sure that our pilots are current on their flight hours with specific drone types in order for them to be operational. With Airdata, we easily track this information which helps us not only in identifying the right pilot, but also helps us ensure our pilots maintain their hours and training. Again, for us it's about readiness and knowing what resources are at our disposal. Despite being a volunteer organization, we have to maintain a high degree of diligence and governance around what we do.
The growing need to manage drone flight data:
Additionally, Simon also serves as the UK Director of Air Ops for Lowland Rescue, where's he's responsible for all drone and helicopter operations.
We currently have 5 search and rescue teams that are operational with drones across the country, with 3 more coming online shortly.
It wasn't long ago that people would see drones being used for search and rescue, as a novelty. Now, they're surprised if they don't see one
It wasn't long ago that people would see drones being used for search and rescue, as a novelty. Now, they're surprised if they don't see one, as they expect drones to be part of the standard issued kit. As we add more drones and pilots to our efforts, Airdata will be increasingly important to help us manage these resources, our readiness to respond, and our ability to get the job done safely and reliably.
You can follow Simon and Surrey Search & Rescue on Twitter at: @SurreySAR