Updated: Oct 17, 2019
The RODEO is coming to town! Well, probably not in the sense that many of us might normally think about this, but believe it or not, there is some variation of a rodeo event that will soon be coming to Huntsville, AL ... However, instead of competitions involving folks wrangling bulls or horses, this occasion will bring together our region's best public safety remote pilots and put their skills to the test in flying "drones" (slang for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or "UAS").
On October 9th and 10th, the UAS Information Sharing and Analysis Organization (ISAO) and GEOHuntsville will be hosting the first ever "Southeast Regional UAS RODEO™" at the Huntsville Public Safety Training Academy. How do you spell R-O-D-E-O? Great question, and glad you asked! These groups spell it like this:
RegionalOngoing (training for)DroneEmergencyOperations™!
For a few years now, the GEOHuntsville non-profit organization that was stood up by Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle has been working through its UAS Working Group to connect and energize many broadly cross-cutting subject matter experts from industry, academia, and local / state / Federal public safety agencies, then determine the most efficient means of integrating drones into emergency and disaster response workflows. Together with many forward-leaning partners, such as the UAS ISAO and the local AUVSI Pathfinder Chapter, positive momentum is quickly building, and this coalition has been able to successfully execute almost a dozen exercises, conferences, and other related activities in a relatively short time period. Each one building on lessons learned from the last one, these events are 100% geared toward connecting stakeholders from a variety of regions and levels of government and industry to foster familiarity, improved communication, and enhanced information exchange between these groups. In turn, this enables a much more rapid and successful transition from "What we could someday do" into "What we are doing now" when it comes to protecting the general public on a daily basis, while also providing new capabilities that can aid communities to more quickly recover after large-scale disasters strike.
The Southeast UAS RODEO is the latest in a culmination of efforts, spun off from the recent Public Safety UAS Summit hosted by this group in August (https://www.geohuntsville.org/post/public-safety-uas-summit-soars-to-success). Unlike previous exercises and events, this one will allow the public safety community to come together and actually compete against one another in a series of courses. Each course has been carefully designed to challenge the UAS piloting skill sets of trained emergency response officials, relating back to various real-world scenarios. From wide area search and rescue, to active shooter identification, hazardous material scoping and clean up, crime scene investigation, and more, this first year of the RODEO promises to have a little something for everyone with hopes of having even more in the years to follow. So, if you are a public safety official working in local, state, or Federal government and would like to come out and put your remote piloting skills to the test, or if you are new to this realm and are just very interested in learning more about how this exciting new technology may be able to benefit your public safety organization, come out on out to the RODEO! Registration is free to all government employees, and costs only $99 for non-government attendees: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/inaugural-southeast-regional-uas-rodeo-2-day-event-tickets-69871081285?mc_cid=bedf007c17&mc_eid=d0bb0b191e .