Victorian bushfires to be monitored by drones in ‘Australian first’ program

Drones for monitoring bushfires

[Editor’s Note: Drones were previously used in a trial to monitor the koala population.]

This post originally appeared on http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-10/victoria-to-use-drones-to-monitor-bushfires/7833184.

Victorian authorities will use drones to monitor fires and wildlife, in what is being described as an Australian first.

It follows a year-long trial monitoring the state’s koala population from the air on public and private land.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the drones would be ready for the summer fire season.

“Effectively this technology give us a birds eye view of the landscape so that we can better plan using that information, so that our firefighters can be significantly enhanced in terms of our ability to survey areas that would previously [be] inaccessible,” she said.

“It’s a great assistance to firefighting, whether it be planned burns or unplanned fires.

“But also of course it is a fantastic tool to be able to collect data and survey our native [wildlife] populations.”

Ms D’Ambrosio said the State Government was in the process of organising contracts for the drones.

“It will add to our fire and emergency aviation fleet which has almost doubled in the past 10 years,” she said.

“The demand for aerial intelligence gathering has grown significantly and we know that through these trials the benefits for better information to equip our firefighters to better plan for planned burns is going to be enhanced.”

Drones ‘could save money’

The Department of Environment Land, Water and Planning’s Brendan Zwanikken said the use of drones could save money.

“We find that they [drones] are quieter for wildlife and in some circumstances they may be more cost effective,” he said.

“However, at this stage we haven’t determined exactly what maned aircraft and unmanned aircraft would be suited for.

“I think remotely piloted aircraft are the way of the future in some aspects but not all aspects.”

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