Drones were already increasing in use around the UK, but one issue remained the weather. Police drones were only able to fly in optimal weather conditions without rain, which reduced the usefulness of having the drones.
Recently DJI released its DJI Matrice 300 RTK weather-resistant drone, which looks to be a perfect fit for the job. The Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police now have a total of 35 DJI drones used by 35 pilots across its Alliance Drone Team, which started in 2015.
Challenges of scale
A big challenge for the team when it came to scaling its drone program up was the learning curve involved. Sergeant James Rees, the Alliance Drone Team Manager shared:
At the time, the whole concept was new, we were starting from scratch, and everything had to be established from the outset – legal policies, SOPs, training standards. Today, there will always be a national or local organisation available to assist you with the framework to get started.
The next challenged faced the cost associated with purchasing drones for use in the field. While the benefits are clear and outweigh the price, the proposal had to go through many people before becoming a reality. On top of this, the Alliance Drone Team also had to overcome legislation to ensure the public's privacy and safely use drones.
DJI Matrice 300 RTK benefits
While the team was already using DJI's Matrice 210 drone it wasn't equipped for the more complex operations, especially when it came to bad weather. Rees added:
Firstly, the improved IP45 rating on the drone gives us the confidence that it can be used in inclement weather safely. If life is a risk or there is a pressing need, we can now make risk-managed decisions on whether to fly in wet and windy weather. This has huge implications for how we can respond and deploy the drone to protect the people in our communities.
A second big improvement has been the upgraded H20T camera. Whilst the Z30 was – and still is – a very good piece of equipment, the new model offers a larger sensor which we have found drastically improves the quality of the zoom. This allows us to get usable images and details from much further away.
Measuring the value
With the inclusion of drones, officers have been able to get in the air in five to ten minutes, almost nothing compared to crewed air support. In 2021 alone, drones have assisted in a massive 603 incidents, with five high-risk missing people located with the help of the drones.
Now for the money side of things, on average, responding to an incident with drones costs 85% of the price of a helicopter, with estimated savings in 2020 of more than $450,000.
If you would like to learn more about the DJI Matrice 300 RTK and how it can support your team, get in touch with us via the live chat button in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.