Drones could soon be used more in disaster efforts in Grand Forks
Drones could soon be used more in disaster efforts in Grand Forks 1 / 2WDAY photo2 / 2
GRAND FORKS — Twelve pilots have spent the last few weeks volunteering their time as drones could soon be used in disaster efforts in Grand Forks
They sent their drones up in the air to give a bird's eye view of flooding in the area. that could change the way Grand Forks responds to flooding.
"The whole flooding process is new to me," said Matthew Henry, a UAS operations manager for Northern Plains UAS Test Site.
Henry is one of a dozen pilots helping to visualize the changes in the river level.
"This would enable first responders to get a better bird's-eye view of what's going on," said Henry.
During the last few weeks, the Northern Plains employees have helped in the flood fight.
They originally only intended to document what the water looked like from the sky. But as time went on they managed to do more.
With water levels high, engineers couldn't inspect the Sorlie Memorial Bridge.
"Well they weren't going to be able to get a manned crew underneath the bridge to inspect it in order to reopen the bridge," said Erin Roesler, the UAS standards and policy manager for Northern Plains.
Instead, a drone gave them a better look.
"That was huge because they estimated that probably saved anywhere from two days to a week worth of closure," said Roesler.
Flooding isn't the only disaster drones could be used for as fires and thunderstorms are cases where technology could keep people away from danger.
As the city searches for more ways to put drones to use, pilots say they're prepared to step in.
"It is the way of the future. So every day is new . . . kind of paving the way for the industry," said Henry.
Northern Plains plans to meet with city leaders in the next few weeks to discuss a disaster response plan that includes drones.
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