The Mexican city of Ensenada has become famous in recent days because the local police declared that they have been able to arrest over 500 criminals thanks to the use of a drone in the last 4 months. According to the statistics reported, that led to an overall crime reduction by 10% overall and in particular a drop in burglaries by 30%.
Ensenada’s police used a single drone, to be precise a DJI Inspire 1 quadcopter. It’s a rather large drone, with dimensions of 43.8 x 45.1 x 30.1 cm (17.2″ x 17.7″ x 11.8″) and rotors 33.2 cm (13″) in diameter. It’s used to assist the police in controlling the city, which has a population of just over half a million people, and is typically dispatched following emergency calls, cases in which it’s often already in flight and must only be sent to the place where it’s needed to check what’s happening.
The police used software developed by Cape, a California-based company, which automates much of the drone flight process, including takeoffs and landings. There are officers in charge of using it that can view the streaming feed from the camera attached to the drone from the police station’s PC or when they’re in the field.
The drone often manages to get to the scene of the crime before the police cars, allowing the operator to make an survey of the area and keep an eye on any suspects. According to Cape CEO Chris Rittler, a dozen drones would be enough to control a city like Ensenada.
The use of drones is spreading in various countries to assist police forces in various ways. Axon, a company specialized in providing services to law enforcement, chose other DJI drones, the Phantom 4 Pro model, which has dimensions of 35 x 35 x 25 cm (13.8″ x 13.8″ x 9.8″), and the Matrix 210 model, which has dimensions of 71.6 x 22.0 x 23.6 cm (28.2″ x 8.7″ x 9.3″).
For the record, to give you the various drones’ dimensions in both centimeters and inches I used this online inches to cm converter that allows conversions both ways and at the bottom of the page includes an overview of a range of inches to cm conversions. Very useful!
This increasing use of drones will also lead to new discussions on the line between police work and population surveillance with the connected privacy issues. In these cases we need a balance between the various needs with a careful control that prevents abuses.