Drone Support: NDRRF formed to fight Covid-19

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By Rohit Vaid

India’s arsenal against Covid-19 just got a boost with the formation of the National Drone Rapid Response Force (NDRRF) by the country’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle industry.

At present, the ready-to-deploy drones from individual professionals to partner companies are enforcing the guidelines of the national lockdown to help contain the pandemic across the country.

Even though the state police forces do have drones, they lack trained pilots in the numbers that are required to enforce such a massive undertaking.

It is estimated that around 400 drones are currently operating in the country to assist the local administrations. Some 30 odd companies and many trained freelance drone photographers are also involved in these operations.

There has been a high demand for drones throughout the country from states like Maharashtra, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu.

The task force has been modelled on the lines of public-private partnership and has proven effective in four cities, including Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Siwan in Bihar.

According to Drone Federation of India’s President Rahat Kulshreshtha, this is an opportunity for the drone industry to come together in supporting the police forces.

“The Indian police force is understaffed with an officer-to-citizen ratio of 150 personnel per 100,000 citizens. Patrolling every lane and checking every open ground is time consuming and also exposes the police force to high risk,” Kulshreshtha told IANS.

“This platform connects state authorities with drone pilots in each region. By sending out drones from within a safe environment, the pilots can help monitor areas,” he added.

Not just patrolling, the task force is enforcing the lockdown with loudspeaker systems on drones that are sent out into tight and inaccessible places to deliver a message or issue a warning in the local language.

Furthermore, the force also intends to use its drones for spraying disinfectants.

“There are currently over 200 pilots working together in this initiative and fighting the virus using technology,” Kulshreshtha said.

“All the efforts in each city are being made under the supervision and direction of the local police. Based on their requirement and scale of operation, a team is assigned with a capitan to deliver all the support required,” he said.

In terms of funding, the force has till now got a CSR support worth Rs 35 lakh with the corporates and the police paying separately.

(The author can be contacted rohit.v@ians.in)


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