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Public Safety UAS Summit Soars to Success

Last week, the GEOHuntsville UAS Working Group, in partnership with the AUVSI Pathfinder Chapter and the UAS Information Sharing and Analysis Organization (ISAO) successfully executed a sold-out event, the "Public Safety UAS Summit", which was geared toward the first responder and emergency management communities. With over 75 participating registrants (expecting just under 50) attending this event at the Public Safety Training Academy in Huntsville, AL, the Summit was designed to bring together a variety of public safety folks from local, state, and Federal circles to a sort of "uber-conference" to discuss an array of considerations relevant to the development and maintenance of UAS operations for a plethora of Public Safety applications. With more than 27 different public safety jurisdictions represented at the conference (50% Law enforcement, 25% Fire/Rescue, 23% Emergency Management Agency, 2% Port Security), the diversity of the event was well established and went a long way toward facilitating invaluable inter-department and inter-agency discussions on this topic.

The Summit commenced in the morning with a welcome message and keynote speech delivered by Chief Mark McMurray of the Huntsville Police Department, who stressed the importance of staying ahead of the curve to incorporate UAS and other relevant technologies into public safety response workflows. Also present on the invited speakers list were several subject matter experts from law enforcement, fire and rescue, local and federal emergency management, and private industry communities. Multiple topics were presented via a combination of standard briefings, outdoor technology demonstrations, and an interwoven series of live streaming (multicast) UAS data feeds keying in on varying real-world response scenarios. Instructional sessions on subjects like UAS program development, airspace access methods, training and proficiency, privacy considerations, data dissemination and management, multi-jurisdictional coordination, and other relevant items are just a few of those that were covered. The day concluded with an hour-long, multi-agency panel of public safety personnel and other experts across the board, including one representative from FEMA Region IV. Offering an excellent opportunity to interact with each other and with peers in the audience, the panel touched on many key areas of interest, with particular emphasis that was focused on the importance of early communication of best practices, lessons learned, and overall benefits regarding these capabilities among the public safety community, as well as with the general public.

In keeping with the growing interest and momentum for such efforts, next up, the GEOHuntsville UAS Working Group will be working in close partnership with the UAS ISAO to coordinate and execute the Inaugural Southeast Regional "UAS Rodeo", to be held on October 9-10th, also on the grounds of the Huntsville Public Safety Training Academy. Complementing the terrific information-sharing opportunity that the Public Safety UAS Summit facilitated, the UAS Rodeo will offer an opportunity for public agencies to come back out to learn more, but also to actually bring their favorite UAS platforms with them to build and test their operational proficiency skills with in step with a broad group of peers. For more information about the upcoming UAS Rodeo and about GEOHuntsville and its partners, click on the following links: ;; ;


All photo credits: Gregg Gelmis

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