GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. -- Cities in the Denver Metro are taking to the sky, using drones in emergency situations.The Greenwood Village Police Department is using them to investigate, clear accidents quicker, provide security, perform search and rescue operations and keep first responders safer.
Most recently, the city used drone technology to help with traffic control and to get first responders to the scene after an 11 car pile-up accident on I-25 near Yosemite St in June.
Biagio Burriesci is a drone pilot within the department. He is using them to get a different view, leading to a more advanced investigation.
“Looking for skid marks, patterns and there might be something that we don’t notice on the ground that we would being in the air,” said Burriesci.
Drones are also shortening the time resources are tied up and roads are closed on the ground.
“Our accident investigation went from usually between one to two hours now down to 50 minutes,” said Burriesci. During the accident on I-25 in June, crews were able to clear the scene quicker and return traffic back to highway speeds.
With multiple drones at the ready, the department can use them for a variety of reasons. Once a drone pilot loads the map into the program being used, the machine can take off and fly in a pattern on its own. The drone takes pictures, uploads the media and stitches them together to provide an interactive map. Investigators can request a 3D image to be created with the images if needed.
The drones can also be programmed to follow a moving object on the ground, such as a car or a person. Pilots can use the lense to zoom in on suspects, vehicles and license plates.
Once the drone is done being used during an emergency situation, investigators can go back to do more work on a scene with just a few clicks on the computer.
“We can actually go back days later and use the same footage and get measurements that we need that maybe we didn’t think we needed,” said Burriesci.
The process to get drone clearance has gotten easier for pilots. They can put in a request on a phone application or computer and receive approval in as quick as a few seconds. Pilots used to have to wait to put a call in and get clearance.
The quicker process is positive for cities such as Greenwood Village being able to launch the drones quicker on emergencies, but it also gives private citizens the ability to fly too, getting access to images that might interfere with an investigation.