Industry giant, DJI, is expanding the use of drones as reliable tools in emergency preparedness, response and post-incident missions through its latest partnership with the Menlo Park Fire Protection District (FPD). Menlo Park FPD, a Solution Development Partner, is on the hunt to find the best use of drones in order to protect lives and property. In order to do so, they will test customized solutions developed by DJI for the public safety sector
According to the official press release, DJI and Menlo Park FPD have been working together since March 2016. The companies have worked together to respond to local emergencies, including large-scale natural disasters such as hurricanes Harvey and Irma as well as the fires at Yosemite and Santa Rosa.
The Santa Rosa fire marked the first time the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection authorized drone flights as part of the emergency response in a large-scale disaster. Menlo Park FPD used DJI equipment for more than 120 drone flights to provide situational awareness for authorities, assist with search and recovery efforts, and survey destroyed neighborhoods. This followed earlier collaborations that demonstrated how public safety agencies can use drones to quickly gather information on emergencies and provide insights to incident commanders, while safely sharing the skies with traditional public safety aircraft.
“Our partnership with Menlo Park FPD has given us valuable opportunities to see firsthand how our platforms perform out on the field, allowing us to incorporate real-life learnings into the ongoing improvement of our hardware and software capabilities,” said Romeo Durscher, Director of Education at DJI. “In just the last few months, we have seen our aerial platforms play a critical role in supporting emergency response efforts during and after a disaster, such as the Yosemite Fire, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and the recent Santa Rosa fire.”
DJI has provided specialized training on its aerial platforms for Menlo Park FPD personnel. DJI has collected valuable product feedback from this collaboration including joint exercises, live fire training scenarios, and even the development of customized proofs of concept for its M600.
“Working closely with DJI the past 18 months has enabled us to better understand just how much more utility we can get from their aerial drone platforms,” said Harold Schapelhouman, Fire Chief at Menlo Park FPD. “Our collaboration in Santa Rosa produced a tremendous amount of insightful data that has helped us develop a plan of action and manage our resources more efficiently during this critical time. As they experience the pain points of coordinating disaster operations and on-site data transfer, we discover more ways in which we can push the boundaries of aerial technology to better serve the community.”
Menlo Park FPD is now beta-testing DJI’s new FlightHub, a web-based professional drone management system, to see how it can improve fire-rescue operations.