Although Innovators in the public sector have already leveraged drones to enhance the capabilities and efficiency of public services, there still remains a great deal of untapped potential.
Drones have recently been receiving a lot of negative attention with regards to privacy, security and legal risks (example: airport bans) which has led to several laws being issued that curb drone usage. This in turn has also curbed the significant positive potential that drones offer society when used safely. Typically, the users of drones are hobbyists and the military. However, as drones become less expensive and more accessible, the wide range of their new-found applications by innovative public servants also continues to grow. In fact, over a third of the drone fleet by 2030 is predicted to be used by public bodies. This article therefore takes a closer look at the opportunities and use cases for the integration of drone technology in public sector services with particular attention to emergency services, environmental protection, infrastructure maintenance and the collection of geospatial data.
To harness the full potential of drone technology, we will need to address regulation and procurement & usage consistency. These are not simple barriers that we can resolve overnight and givernments will need to decide if it is worth investing in regulation to further the scope and added value that drones provide.
Value to the UAE Government
In the UAE, several drone initiatives/applications have been launched, particularly for traffic monitoring, surveillance, flying taxis, oil spills searches, water and power asset monitoring, litter monitoring, landfill density optimization, and police patrols. TechSci Research has also noted that the UAE drone market is expected to reach $122 million by 2023; and that growth in the market can be attributed to the rising demand for military and commercial drones, coupled with the proactive involvement of regulatory bodies like the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) in devising policies to support the use of drones in different applications. Due the clear regulations to obtains permits, the UAE has one of the highest number of drone operators in the world which makes it a perfect location to lead in drone technology exploration and research.