public safety (3)

When we think about commercial drones, we mainly see them as a tool for aerial inspection and monitoring, since a lot of applications happen in this context. According to, the construction industry was the largest user of drones, in terms of usage, in 2019, which further strengthens the perception of widespread use by this industry. 

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the commercial drone ecosystem; we are now witnessing a rapid adoption of drones by various government agencies across the world for public safety use cases. For instance, during the global pandemic lockdown, police officials in the state of Gujarat, India created the country’s first drone command center from where a fleet of drones was managed to monitor the streets of the city of Ahmedabad; read the full case study

If we dig deeper into the use of drones for public safety, there is one use case that is not often talked about, drones for highway patrolling. No! You won’t be getting a speeding ticket from a drone any time soon. But what drones can do is to act as first responders in emergency situations happening on highways. Clearly, drones aren’t meant to catch criminals and speeding vehicles, they are more like eyes-in-the-sky that provide situational awareness when something goes wrong. 

Why Use Drones for Highway Patrolling

With regards to highway patrolling, drones provide the following advantages:

  • A drone can reach a location much faster compared to ground-based vehicles, which is why they are ideal for the role of first responders. 
  • In situations like wildfires or avalanches, where roads get blocked, drones can be sent to assess the situation and identify people who are in distress.
  • Drones can help optimize the resources to be deployed for emergency response, by providing crucial first-hand information on a fast-evolving situation to human first responders (police, fire, and paramedic). 
  • Drones can carry a variety of payloads, such as Automated External Defibrillators. A drone carrying an AED can save lives by rapidly reaching someone having a cardiac arrest in remote areas.

Instances of Drones Used for Patrolling

Save people from avalanches: Drones are actively being used in mountainous areas for patrolling ski paths and participating in search and rescue missions, in case of an avalanche.

Drones Used for Patrolling

According to BBC, 90% of avalanche victims survive if rescued within the first 15 minutes, but the odds of surviving drops to 20% after 45 minutes. Thus, the rapid response abilities of drones become ideal for such situations.

In the Czech Republic, there is a nationwide agency called the Mountain Rescue Service of the Czech Republic that actively participates in rescuing people trapped by an avalanche. They rely on a response system based on a network of drones. When an avalanche strikes, mobile vehicles carrying drones go to the affected area and deploy the drones. The drones carry a transceiver to hone into a particular frequency that skiers transmit. In this way, skiers trapped in snow are quickly located and saved. 

Analyze crash sites: Iowa State Patrol has deployed drones to investigate crash sites on highways. Drones equipped with a high-resolution camera can be used to render 3D images and recreate accident sites for investigators. The state patrol is using this technology only for investigating accidents, not to monitor traffic violations.

Drones for Highway patrolling

How FlytNow can Power a Drone Response System for Highway Patrolling

FlytNow is a cloud-based application that offers a web dashboard to manage a fleet of drones. The dashboard has an integrated map that allows live tracking of all connected drones; it also has widgets to control the drones along with their payloads. 

FlytNow comes in two main versions (FlytNow Business and FlytNow Enterprise) for commercial users. 

How Drones are Connected to FlytNow?

FlytNow supports both DJI and custom drones. DJI drones are connected using the FlytOS mobile app. The app connects with the Remote Controller (RC) and establishes a connection with the web application. 

When connecting custom drones based on PX4 and Ardupilot or DJI enterprise drones, a single board computer (SBC) is required; this could be a Raspberry Pi 3b+/4, Odroid N2, DJI Manifold 2, Nvidia Jetson Nano / TX2, etc. that is loaded with the FlytOS operating system and connected with the autopilot of the drone. The SBC allows the drones to communicate with FlytNow and receive instructions over the cloud.

FlytNow Business for Remote Patrolling

FlytNow is a standard offering that provides out of the box features to manage drones remotely. It is ideal for localized response systems that rely on both remote viewing capabilities and the support from local pilots. Here are some of the features that help police officials:

  • FlytNow has a standard web-based dashboard to manage all connected drones. It has panels to monitor the live telemetry data of each drone and the live video feed coming from the drones. An officer having access to the dashboard can inspect an emergency situation remotely, and guide the personnel present at the scene. In the case of a DJI drone, an officer close to a scene might use the mobile app to share the footage with remote officers or an expert.

flytnow getting started

  • FlytNow Business offers integration with a private cloud server to store videos captured by the drones. Police officials can use this feature to maintain a video record of every incident captured by the drones, which might prove to be useful in future investigations.

Drone Response System

  • This version supports the remote control of a variety of payloads, including payloads offered by DJI. Among the supported payloads include a thermal camera, spotlight, and loudspeaker. Such payloads are useful in special circumstances like night time search and rescue missions where time is a critical element.

FlytNow Enterprise

The FlytNow Enterprise version includes everything that the Business version has, plus additional features and the option of customization. This offering is ideal for establishing a full-fledged emergency or disaster response system that includes a network of Drone-in-a-Box installations, multi-user access, and integration with services like 911. Below is an illustration of how a system like this might work:

drone response system

Understanding a drone-based response system using FlytNow Enterprise for highway Patrolling

Here we will explore how a drone-based highway response system might work using a hypothetical situation.  

  • At hour 21:00 on route 66, a tanker collides with a truck and catches fire. A nearby witness calls 911.

drone monitoring of a road accident

  • An emergency operator receives the request and triggers an alert. The alert is then routed to nearby state troopers and the fire service.

drone response center

  • As fire engines are prepared for dispatch, a fire serviceman opens the FlytNow dashboard and selects the fire alert (made possible through integration with 911), which puts a pin on the map.

drone station

  • The fireman requests drone coverage for the scene. Since FlytNow is integrated with a network of drone stations, powered by Drone-in-a-Box (DiaB) hardware, a mission is created automatically and a nearby drone is selected for the task.
  • On receiving the command (over the internet), a drone automatically takes off from a DiaB and flies towards the location. FlytNow automatically selects an optimal path for the drone, taking into consideration airspace norms, by leveraging UTM services like Airmap.

road accident

  • On reaching the location, the drone begins a live-video stream of the incident, providing crucial situational awareness to the firefighters. The stream is broadcasted (the drone maintains communication with FlytNow over 4G/LTE/5G network) to nearby state troopers.
  • A state trooper with special privileges takes secure control of the drone’s camera and initiates a thermal scan to identify victims. The object detection capability of FlytNow allows the drone to identify crash victims. The trooper passes the information to the paramedics.
  • When the battery of the drone becomes low, the drone automatically returns to the DiaB to recharge and stay ready for the next mission.



In this blog, we discussed the fast-evolving adoption of drones in public safety operations, especially highway patrolling. We touched upon the utility of drones in patrolling operations and specific instances where drones have saved lives.

We then discussed how FlytNow, as a solution, enables emergency responders to build a system where drones can autonomously go to an emergency situation and provide situational awareness.

If you or your police department is interested in such a drone system, then try our 28 days free trial of FlytNow Pro. This version allows you to immediately demonstrate the power of drones for public safety.

Or contact us at for the Business or Enterprise version.

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Drones are eyes in the sky for firefighters. They can serve as an essential firefighting tool for people in the fire services, especially in and around urban centers, where a deadly inferno might occur in a highrise building. 

Drone for fire fighting can equip fire officials with the latest technology, and add complementary capabilities to the existing resources such as fire trucks, ladders, specialized suits, etc. Firefighters can now acquire aerial information in a quick, cost-effective manner. 

In 2016, a tragic fire broke out in a warehouse in Oakland, California. The warehouse had been converted into a living space called Ghost Ship. The fire, which claimed the lives of 36 people, is one of the deadliest in the history of Oakland. Drones, equipped with a thermal camera, were used by firefighters to identify hotspots and search the unsafe-building after the fire was extinguished.

The effectiveness of drones is rapidly catching on, as agencies around the world begin to adopt this technology. In the US, more than 900 state and local agencies related to the emergency services are using drones one way or another; out of them, approximately, 186 is believed to be related to fire and emergency medical services.

Can Drones (UAVs) Put Out a Fire?

This is a common question that people often ask. A short answer is No, drones are more useful in acquiring situational awareness about the fire and its surroundings. Firefighters can use this information to control the fire and ultimately put it off. However, there are a few companies that are equipping drones with water hoses or fire extinguishing materials.

How Are Drones Used During Firefighting?

How Are Drones Used During FirefightingSituational awareness: In a typical scenario where a fire has broken out in a building, firefighters arrive at the spot and begin their operation with limited information about the extent of the fire and damage it has caused to the structure. 

Instead, with a fleet of drones, firefighters can begin with an aerial assessment of the scene and know the extent of the fire before starting their rescue operation.

Reach difficult places: Drones are efficient in going to tight spaces since they are nimble and agile, and deploying them first avoidings putting humans in unsafe situations.

Thermal assessment: In a firefighting situation,  firefighters work against the clock to save the lives and integrity of the structure. That is why it is important to direct their efforts towards the source of a fire.  Drones equipped with a thermal camera can assist firefighters to identify hotspots inside a blazing structure. Accordingly, firefighters can direct their efforts to bring the situation under control. 

Search and rescue:  Firefighters are actively involved in search and rescue missions. A thermal camera drone can do the job of 100 people by scanning a large area and identifying people in distress. During a natural calamity like an earthquake, thermal camera drones can fly over fallen structures and identify trapped individuals, and even identify dangerous leakages.

What Kind of Drones and Payloads are Commonly Used During Firefighting?

Drones come in all shapes and sizes, but not all of them are suitable for firefighting operations. The more suitable ones are off-the-shelf drones from the likes of DJI and custom drones based on open source stacks mainly PX4 and Ardupilot. Here are some of the drones that are considered fit for such kind of tasks:

Drones are not usable without the appropriate payloads. For firefighting purposes, these are some common payloads that are used:

  • Zenmuse XT2 (a thermal camera for DJI drones) 
  • Zenmuse Z30 (a normal camera with 30x zoom for DJI drones)
  • Zenmuse H20 (A hybrid camera that combines a wide-angle camera, 23x optical zoom camera, thermal camera, and laser rangefinder for DJI drones)

How FlytNow Can Make Drone Operations a Lot Smarter for the Firefighters

Traditional Challenges in Using Drones for Firefighting

The conventional way of using drones, during firefighting, is a pilot controlling a drone using the remote controller (RC). Here, the pilot becomes the relay point of all the information collected by the drone. This method of using drones may be simple, but is not very effective, since multiple pilots are required to control multiple drones. On top of the human resource requirement, there are several other disadvantages, as follows:

  • It becomes difficult for a drone pilot to share the data with different agencies and ground personnel, which hinders coordination.
  • Difficult to archive flight data, which makes it problematic for the future analysis of an emergency situation.
  • Data collected from multiple drones cannot be stitched together for better situational awareness. 
  • Sharing live data becomes difficult, more so when multiple drones are involved. 
  • Drone response can’t be automated since they can’t be integrated with emergency response systems like the 911 operations centers.

How FlytNow Helps in Overcoming the Traditional Challenges

FlytNow is a fleet management system that helps public safety officials to overcome challenges in using drones for firefighting. 

FlytNow is a cloud-based application that provides a unified dashboard to control a fleet of drones. It has two versions (Business and Enterprise) that cater to two different use cases.

drones for public safetyHow Drones are Connected to the FlytNow Cloud Application

FlytNow is a hardware-agnostic cloud platform meaning it supports different kinds of drones. Users using DJI drones can use the FlytOS mobile app to connect the drones to the cloud application. 

In the case of custom drones, a single board computer loaded with the FlytOS operating system can be attached to the flight controller of the drone, to facilitate communication with the FlytNow application over a 4G/LTE/5G network.


FlytNow Business

FlytNow Business is a standard offering that provides out of the box features in the form of SaaS (Software as a Service). This version is useful in establishing a quick command center, locally, for a particular response to manage the drones in operation. 

Some of the unique features and benefits that it provides are as follows:

  • It provides a web-based dashboard with an integrated map to control a fleet of drones. Using this feature, a single operator can control the movement of multiple drones, thus saving cost and time.drone firefighting operation
  • The dashboard offers live telemetry and visual data from all connected drones, with dual control from both the RC and the web dashboard. This allows for coordinated drone operations where data from multiple drones can be stitched together and shared for better situational awareness. firefighters using drone
  • The Business edition has out of the box support for live video-streaming from multiple drones that can be shared with anyone using their email address.flytnow for remote firefighting operations
  • A viewer can switch between ‘normal’ view (RBG) and ‘thermal’ view (IR) if the drone is equipped with an IR sensor. In the case of DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual and DJI M210 V2 Dual, the FlytNow dashboard provides the MSX view that shows the lines and edges, along with the contrast, to differentiate between regions with different temperatures.using thermal camera with drone
  • Along with MSX, FlytNow gives the option to switch between different color pallets like Rainbow, Hotspot, Gray, Isotherms, Hotmetal, and Coldspot for the M2E Dual.using drones for fire fighting
  • Thermal imaging allows firefighters to identify hot spots and see whether they are hitting the fire. In a post-fire situation,  a thermal drone can carry out an inspection of the outer facades of the building, and send the live footage using FlyNow to a structural engineer sitting hundreds of miles away for a better assessment.
  • The business version has out of the box support for DJI payloads (eg. Dual Camera, Spotlight, etc) for drones such as Mavic 2 Enterprise and the Matrice 200 series. These payloads are specially designed for emergency operations.drone payloads for fire fighting
  • Apart from DJI payloads, it supports remote control of the gimbal, on which the camera is attached, via the web dashboard. This allows a remote viewer to control the camera angle for a better visual.

FlytNow Enterprise

The Enterprise version adds customization and addons to the Business edition. This version is ideal for setting up a drone-based emergency response system with the following capabilities:

  • A system that is integrated with a dispatch system like the 911
  • Integration with a decentralized network of drone stations supported by Drone-in-a-Box hardware, which allows for automated dispatch of drones.
  • A unified dashboard that can be part of a command center, which allows for the control and management of the drones over 4G/LTE/5G. 

With respect to fire fighting, the Enterprise version offers advantages such as:

  • AI-based features like object detection to help identify people trapped under debris or lost in a forest.
  • The ability of public safety officials to maintain detailed flight-record of each and every drone flight, to comply with airspace norms. All these legal requirements and complexities are solved using FlytNow Enterprise’s native support for DroneLogbook (a flight data recording service) and Airmap (a UTM service). 
  • Support for custom maps, so that operators can adjust to the terrain over which drones are flying.


In this blog, we discussed the importance of drones for firefighting and how they can be used to save time, resources, and lives. We also touched upon the kind of drones and payloads used for fire fighting operations. Finally, we ended by showcasing the benefits that FlytNow provides by allowing the usage of drones at scale with data availability for proper coordination. 

If you (plan to) use drones for public safety, then FlytNow is the right software platform to allow you to leverage cloud technology for better management and transparency of your drone operations. You can get started with our 28 days of a free trial. You can also contact us at

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