Forsyth County, N.C. – Imagine you hear intruders attempting to break into your home. You dial 911. As law enforcement speeds to your location, a drone appears and begins transmitting video of the intruders to law enforcement, following the intruders as they flee, until deputies can apprehend them safely.
This futuristic scenario is happening today in the Village of Clemmons, where Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office (FSCO), with assistance from AeroX, has launched North Carolina’s first Drones as First Responders (DFR) program.
DFR allows the drone operator to listen to live 911 calls and, if necessary, deploy a drone to the scene to provide a set of eyes before deputies arrive. The drone can stream live video to both deputies responding and the command center, providing critical information that can significantly change the outcome of the response. DFR have been proven to reduce response times, increase resident and officer safety, and provide critical situational awareness for responders and callers.
Forsyth County’s DFR program is being piloted in the Village of Clemmons due to its population density, moderate call volume and enthusiastic support from Clemmons Village Council. The program will operate first within a one-mile radius of the Lewisville-Clemmons Road/Interstate 40 intersection, with the goal of expanding to other locations soon. FSCO and AeroX have applied to the Federal Aviation Administration for approval to operate the first-responder drones to fly beyond the pilot’s line of sight, which would allow the program to operate across a wider area.
“We are embracing this important new technology and deploying it in this innovative way to increase safety and improve law enforcement in our community, providing a model for how other communities across our state and nation can use drones to transform public safety,” Sheriff Bobby F. Kimbrough Jr. said.
“The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office continues to be a vital AeroX partner and innovator, leading the way in aviation’s new frontier with this major advance in the area of public safety,” said AeroX President Basil Yap.
The nonprofit AeroX, led by public and private partners including FSCO, works with innovative organizations and the FAA to find new ways to use drones to deliver public and private services, cargo and, ultimately, people that are more effective, efficient, safer and less costly.
AeroX is focusing first on expanding drone use in public safety, with the DFR program as a major initiative, package delivery and infrastructure inspection. By leading in the unmanned aviation industry, Forsyth County can attract new companies, create new high-paying jobs and improve the quality of public services.
AeroX continues work on building a ground-based surveillance system to support low-altitude traffic management, funded by a $5 million grant from the N.C. General Assembly. Dubbed Project ATLAS, it is focused on providing surveillance data on “non-cooperative aircraft,” those without transponders that help other aircraft detect and avoid them. Filling that critical surveillance data gap will support help support FSCO and other drone operators seeking FAA approval to fly drones beyond the operator’s visual line of sight.
AeroX is a nonprofit organization of business, government and community partners focused on facilitating the safe and efficient commercialization of unmanned aircraft systems technologies in North Carolina. It aims to capitalize on North Carolina’s prominence as a UAS innovation leader by creating a national model ecosystem for advanced air mobility and a testbed for pioneering companies seeking to leverage emerging UAS technologies to grow their companies. Learn more at www.ncaerox.com.