When it comes to regulation around UAVs, the FAA has made a clear delineation between drones that are being used for recreational and commercial purposes. Doing so has helped them define a regulatory process for each, but public service departments and non-profit organizations don’t fit nicely into either of these categories. These complications have only added to questions around how drones can help law enforcement, security and search and rescue (SAR) professionals.

The videos in this list showcase many of these capabilities and uses. We’re painting with a broad brush in terms of use cases, since a fire department that utilizes a drone for first response purposes is inherently different than a private company that uses one to offer security services. Such a wide variety of applications should give viewers an idea around how many different opportunities drones can present, regardless of their specific need.

With one hour of video being uploaded to YouTube every second, we’ve undoubtedly missed out on some great video resources, so please let us know via Twitter or email which videos can and should be included in Part 2.


DJI Stories - Search and Rescue – DJI

As you’ll see from some of the other samples in this list, many of the videos that showcase what drones can do in first response situations aren’t exceptionally produced or especially deep. This video from DJI targeted specifically at and for SAR operators isn’t one of them.

Featuring the actions and voices of the real people using these tools, we get a tremendous understanding of how the Down East Emergency Medicine Institute (D.E.E.M.I.) in Maine utilizes drones to help in their search and rescue operations. Various people from the organization talk through their process, but refreshingly the focus isn’t around the specifics of what drones are able to do for them. Instead, viewers get a real sense of the work this organization is doing which resonates in an incredibly powerful way.

The professionals from D.E.E.M.I. aren’t the only ones featured in the video, but regardless of who’s talking, viewers get a real sense of what this technology means to and for them. Capturing these voices and experiences gives viewers specifics around how this technology has moved beyond aerial photos and videos and turned into a tool that SAR professionals rely on.


Edmonton Police Service's Traffic UAV – EPSVideoOnline

UAVs have numerous applications in law enforcement, but the most popular of those applications relates to surveillance. However, the Edmonton Police Service is using their UAV for something very different, which could end up representing an even greater benefit to them and their constituency.

In this video we get the basics around UAV operation logistics and legal restrictions when it comes to flying a drone, but the focus is around what this police department is specifically doing with their drone. The police official being interviewed is a collision reconstructionist, and he explains how they take data captured by the drone at a collision and create a reconstruction of that accident. It allows investigators to more effectively measure and show details like tire marks, distances, and lines of sight.

Many police departments don’t need too much convincing to see the power of drones when it comes to surveillance, and some have already used them to get results. This video is a perfect example of just one of the many other ways UAVs can make a positive impact in this environment.


See how firefighters are using drones to save lives – USA TODAY

Wayne Baker made a cameo in the DJI video above, but this one is from a local news report that is focused specifically on how drones are being utilized by his fire department in Texas. Those specifics are key, as we get to watch what kind of a difference they can make in emergency situations.

The video shows how a particular drone has been modified to utilize cargo hooks which allows it to drop items to people who are isolated and waiting for supplies or equipment. Rather than simply telling the audience how UAVs can make an impact, they actually show how it can be accomplished through ingenuity and a desire to make a difference.

What really comes across here is how genuine Baker is about how drones can help people in various situations. The video ends with a note about their attempt to receive approval for the official use of the drone, although I couldn’t find an update around whether that’s happened or not. Hopefully the department has been able to secure that approval which will compel other departments to follow suit.


Sheriff's UAV Search and Rescue Demo - venturasheriff

Ventura County literally touches the border of Los Angeles County, and I know for a fact they have a few filmmakers, actors and camera operators in Southern California. For some reason though, tapping into any of these resources for the production of this video seemingly wasn’t a priority. Granted, the video looks to be using actual sheriff department officials, but the poor acting is just one of the things that gives the whole piece the feel of an after-school special.

Despite that, the video does a great job of showcasing what using a UAV during an actual search and rescue operation often looks like from beginning to end. Anyone who wants to know why manned helicopters won’t always be the solution will have that question answered in this video, and they’ll be able to see what kind of a difference these eyes-in-the-sky can make out in the field.

I know I already mentioned the groan-worthy acting in the video, but at least the sheriffs and SAR professionals have an excuse. They all have day jobs. Perhaps the guy playing the father does as well, but I really hope it’s not as an actor. He plays the part of a father who’s lost his child with the emotion of a person who just got a speeding ticket.



Drones Take Home Defense to the Air – PersonalDefenseWorld.com

UAVs that have been created or fitted with the relevant security equipment are being used in a number of private industries, including personal security. This video showcases how drones can be used in this capacity in tandem with motion detectors to provide a powerful look at what’s happening in a given area on someone’s private property.

One of the highlights of the video is around how drones aren’t just passive surveillance, but can address situations with mounted speakers and even tasers (!). Such uses don’t presently seem especially practical or reliable, but the night-vision, thermal and long-range capabilities of these systems can nonetheless provide some very relevant security info for users.

The video is a bit misleading with the info about regulation, and the host literally says, “whatever you can think of to strap to one of these drones, you can”. These kinds of statements can be dangerous for a number of different reasons, but so long as viewers focus on the creative and relevant uses of drones in this sector, they’ll be able to come away something applicable.