Speaking at the North Carolina Drone Summit & Flight Expo this week, DroneResponders Director Charles Werner announced the creation of a Technical Experts Program (TEP) to assist public safety and emergency services professionals and agencies who require first-hand subject matter expertise in deploying and managing their drone programs.

The TEP will start off with 50 technical experts who have committed to serve on the DroneResponders website and discussion forum, answering any questions that users may have.

“I am very excited about the start of our Technical Experts Program,” said Werner. “Each of these individuals have been vetted as subject matter experts in specific areas pertaining to public safety drone operations. They will now share their knowledge with other first responders who are operating UAS.”

The technical experts will cover public safety UAS topics such as active shooter situations, beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations, emergency airspace authorizations and HAZMAT responses, with new topics to be added in the future.

"We expect the DroneResponders Technical Experts to become regarding as the rock stars of the public safety UAS sector. These go-to specialists will help solve unique and complex challenges surrounding public safety drone operations,” said Werner. “Public safety agencies have a long tradition of helping one another, and the DroneResponders program will carry that legacy forward with the TEP.”

A full list of current technical experts can be found online.

The announcement came just a couple weeks after DroneResponders released its 2019 Mid-Year Public Safety UAS Report to provide the public with a general sense of how UAVs are being increasingly used for public safety.

According to the report, 3 out of 4 public safety agencies claim they are already either operating drones or working on implementing a UAS program and more than 80 percent of public safety UAS operators either have obtained, or are pursuing, their FAA Part 107 certification.

The report data included survey responses from 288 public safety professionals combined with expert analysis from DroneResponders.

“The data represents a clear snapshot illustrating how public safety agencies are adopting drones,” says Gregory Crutsinger, Ph.D., a DroneRespondersAnalyst and Principal at Scholar Farms in Berkeley, California. “Our survey sample size provided statistically valid insights that served to benchmark the current state of the sector.”

Werner also announced new additions to the DroneResponders Board of Advisors. The current board will be joined by Justine Hollingshead, Chief of Staff and Assistant Vice-Chancellor at North Carolina State University; David Merrick, Director of the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program at Florida State University; Samuel Nelson, Project Manager and Coordinator of sUAS Flight Operations with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation; Eric Schwartz, Quality Innovation and UAS Program Lead with Florida Power & Light Company; and Scott Wilkinson, Senior Academy Officer and RPAS Lead with the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.

DroneResponders has also appointed Derrick Ward to serve as Public Safety Team Leader. Ward is a Firefighter and Lead UAS Pilot with the Los Angeles Fire Department. Ward helped lead a recent 2-day public safety event for Northern California public safety professionals interested in starting or expanding their UAS program.

Remote pilots and UAS program thought-leaders from top public safety agencies across the U.S. will unite for the DroneResponders Public Safety Summit at the 2019 Commercial UAV Expo Americas from October 29-30 at the Westgate Resort & Casino.