Newcastle will this month play host to an international conference on the future of drones in search and rescue.
Taking place at Newcastle University on December 11, the event will reflect on current thinking and experiences of drone technology, harness insights from invited guests and establish how drones can be integrated effectively into complex, multi-agency, search and rescue operations.
Led by Northumberland-based The Centre for Search Research and Newcastle University Business School, delegates from as far afield as New Zealand and the United States will join a range of emergency responder services including: mountain rescue, police, fire and rescue, RAF and coastguard.
Professor Stephen Hughes, Newcastle University Business School, explained: “This conference builds on findings from ‘Exercise Northumberland’, a research project undertaken earlier this year to compare the effectiveness of ground and air assets – including drones – in a search environment.
“Our report from ‘Exercise Northumberland’ received a lot of international attention and we’ve built on this to bring together experts from around the world to help us draft a roadmap for future research into the use of drones in search and rescue. This will be taken forward by The Centre for Search Research and Newcastle University.
“Major search and rescue operations which take place during an earthquake or missing person situations, for example, require a large number of agencies to work together in complex circumstances and under tight time constraints.”
The two-day conference will include a keynote speech from Philip Solaris, from X-Craft Enterprises in New Zealand, who will outline how drones were used by emergency responders after Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, in 2015.
Ollie Dismore, Director of Operations, National Police Air Service will discuss the ethics and use of drones in policing while Hugh Dougher, former Regional Chief Ranger for the US National Park Service, will provide an American perspective on drone use in search and rescue.
Prof Hughes added: “We’re delighted that some of the world’s leading search specialists are joining us to share their experiences in drone use and help us to improve search operations and save more lives.”
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