Drones for Good: The Organization Donating Drones to Public Safety Departments

When I had the opportunity to meet Marc Langley at this year’s InterDrone conference, it was clear that he’s a man with a passion.  Not just for his own company – he is CEO of national drone services provider Airborne Works – but for the non-profit he founded this year – the National Public Safety Drone Donation Program (NPS-DDP.)

Langley sees the potential for drone technology, and he is determined to provide communities across the country with the benefits that drones provide.  The organization’s motto is “Eyes in the sky for every department in need” ™, and they mean it.  From small towns to cities and counties, any public safety department who needs help getting a drone is welcome to apply.

NPS-DDP made their first donation this fall, to a small town on Cape Cod.  A representative from Barnstable County, MA wrote a compelling request:

We are a coastal community on Cape Cod. We have a bay to our west and the Atlantic ocean to our east. We get many distress calls for vessels or persons in these waters.

However, due to the challenges of navigating the tides as well as the narrow channels, we exceed reasonable (NFPA) response times. Having a drone to quickly deploy and assess the situation would be invaluable to our department.

The department already had a Part 107 pilot on staff, but budgetary constraints meant that they simply could not purchase the appropriate aircraft.  NPS-DDP responded that they would make a drone donation within weeks.  A private citizen who heard about the project donated a drone for that request – saving organization resources for the next one.  The team from NPS-DDP traveled to the Cape to provide free training and deliver the drone.

The organization’s next donation – to a volunteer fire department in California – is in the works.  Langley’s team has found a donor to provide a drone: the team will deliver drone and flight training early next month.

NPS-DDP is a project that’s not only great for public services departments, it’s great for our industry.  Public safety may be most people’s first introduction to drones.  Allowing communities to see the benefits that drones will provide  – and the good our industry can do – is probably the best way to protect innovation.

Drone manufacturers, payload providers, service providers or private citizens who want to contribute should visit NPS-DDS.org – and help spread the word about drones for good.

Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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