Dublin initiative to help drone use take off in Irish public services

14 Jun 2022

Image: © Kadmy/Stock.adobe.com

A new survey suggests that many people in Ireland are positive about drones, but concerns have been raised in key areas such as trust, privacy and safety.

A new project is looking to show how local government can utilise drones in areas such as civil defence, emergency response, public safety and environmental monitoring.

As part of a Dublin City Council (DCC) initiative to accelerate the potential of drones across Ireland, a report was also launched today (14 June) on international best practices and future trends in drone technology.

The project is supported by the Irish Aviation Authority, the Local Government Management Agency and Maynooth University.

Led by DCC’s Smart Dublin team, it is establishing a network across multiple government agencies at local and national level to inform policymakers on potential opportunities and best practices emerging around the world.

Launching the project’s report, Minister of State for Public Procurement and eGovernment Ossian Smyth, TD, said that organisations have come together to think about the applications of drone technology and “map out how we can all collaborate to maximise the benefits of these technologies”.

The launch event today showcased potential use applications for local government, with Maynooth University delivering a demo of a tethered drone that could be used for emergency response. Multiple vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) and hybrid drones were on display, with various sensors such as radar, gas sniffers and multispectral cameras.

“Drones are being deployed globally by local governments, fire services and emergency responders to deliver significant benefits to communities,” said Philip Butterworth Hayes, joint author of the report.

“We are just at the start of this revolution happening in our skies. Increased technology advances will make it possible to automate and scale these services globally, while it’s only a matter of time before we see passenger services being rolled out.”

One of the companies represented at the Dublin event was Irish drone delivery start-up Manna. In April last year, Manna secured $25m in a Series A funding round to expand its services.

The results of a national survey were published as part of the report. It found that 84pc of 900 respondents felt positive about drone technologies. Two-thirds (67pc) were confident that drones could be delivering post by 2025, while 55pc felt the same about takeaway food deliveries.

However, there were concerns in certain areas, with 75pc of respondents citing the important of trust when implementing drone technology, while 54pc cited the importance of privacy and 50pc raised the issue of safety.

“As we start to consider how we scale these operations, it is critical that we continue to do so in a way that builds trust with our communities,” DCC chief executive Owen Keegan said.

“I’m delighted to see the Smart Dublin team drive this project with the support of such a wide range of collaborators across industry and academia.”

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic