A surveillance drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle, which is an aircraft without a pilot, which is generally used to gather information about specific targets by capturing images and videos from a distance. The drone's flight capability enables it to be able to withstand harsh environments, thus able to make a surveillance in inaccessible places where a photographer cannot access. Drone surveillance is used to gather intelligence report against enemy targets by government agencies. They are mostly used in instances like; law enforcement, private investigations, rescue missions, and searches and also spying. In this specific research paper, my focus will be on the pros and cons of purchasing a surveillance drone for Virtual City, which is a project suggested by the Mayor of Virtual City. As an employed member of the staff of the Association of Municipal Cities, I have been assigned the duty of doing a research on the organization and operation of the police department, regarding the use of surveillance drones in Virtual City.
Drones are generally considered to be useful surveillance material to the police department. Due to its capability of recording footage, it is vital in giving clues on solving criminal activities. This is evident as it determines the incident, suspect, time and also the place of investigation. Surveillance drones are very useful especially in this era due to advanced technology. First and foremost, drones are considered to be cheap and cost-effective to maintain as compared to aircraft. The cost of fuel in drones is lower. Surveillance drones are considered to be very accurate when gathering information. They have a high accuracy especially when they are operated from a high altitude, this reduces the risk that may be caused to buildings or people. Police drones improve accuracy since the drones confirm details when correcting reported incidences based on recorded photos or videos. (Krassanakis, Da Silva, & Ricordel 7)
The capability of drones to fly is another advantage of purchasing them. This enables the drones to visualize the horizon from an elevated view through just the use of a push button to activate the propeller engine. (Kardasz, Doskocz, Wiejkut, & Zarzycki 49) Drones are also considered to be time-saving. They are convenient for users such as police since they are able to cover a scene by navigating above the ground for a shorter period of time as compared to when the police would go round the scene either on foot or driving.
Live streaming is another feature that offers a great opportunity to organizations like the law enforcers to monitor live scenes like crimes. This gives them an opportunity to get quick updates and make quick responses to any incidences happening. This proof surveillance drone makes it possible for recording footage of an important event like crime scene investigation which may be scheduled for a particular day. Drones are also able to provide hard evidence like the recorded video footage from a specific crime scene, which acts as concrete evidence that might be presented in a court of law to attain justice. This advantage is closely related to documentation of media clips too which may be used for future legal purposes.
Surveillance drones prevent authority abuse. When a drone films a crime scene, police officers are not given room to be biased or use excessive force since the whole operation is being recorded. Police officers are generally tagged as biased law enforcers. Criminal pursuit or surveillance is also made possible by the use of drones, as the criminals can be easily spotted from a crowd or a distance by the use of drones. Not only can criminals be spotted but also missing persons. Police surveillance drones which are well equipped with cameras and facial recognition software could make this possible. Drones too if fitted with special spectroscopic sensors, might be able to detect drugs storage sites. In the event of a bomb threat, drones can be very helpful to access potential explosive devices and hence reduce the risk of exposing bomb squad personnel.
Everything has its own share of disadvantages and drones are no exception. There are various concerns about the dangers posed by surveillance drones. Drones can be blocked from accessing restricted zones such as the military facilities that are conducting special experiments and at times the military training camps. Accessing these areas may subject drone users to legal apprehension. This could lead them to be subjected to pay financial compensation. Even though drones are considered to be convenient, they have a very short lifespan. The lifespan lasts for at least four hours as their battery is considered to be relatively small. Police officers while conducting long operations may be disadvantaged as they will need to get a replacement of another drone that is newly charged.
Flying drones in areas that are prone to wild animals possess a great hazard to drones. A large concentration of wild animals such as eagles can attack the drones while they are navigating the atmosphere and carry them away. (Mulero-Pazamany, Sattler, Jenny, Tablado, & Negro 12) Drones are machines which are delicate and should be handled with at most care. Another con of surveillance drones is that the videos taken from police drones can easily be manipulated. There is software that can be accessed by criminals who can change the content of a media clip. Drones can easily be hacked, as hackers can decode encrypted data to any network connected to a law enforcement personnel drone. (Walsh 11) Hackers can sneak vital information from the network and control systems of drones without the knowledge of the users. After obtaining the information needed, hackers then end up corrupting the file to prevent any traces of intrusion. Drones pose quite a number of privacy risks since they can be able to gather data of private citizens who may be engaging in a constitutionally protected activity, even when they are not suspects of any crime since the drones can carry high-power zooming lenses and see-through imaging.
Some drones pose a risk to human lives and destruction of property, especially when used in warfare. There are a number of drones that have mistakenly fired arsenals to civilians, hence end up causing loss of lives and damage of property. This has been linked with technical malfunctions that drones may experience. It evidently shows that drones are still at a development stage to ensure that such risks are not exposed whenever a drone is suspended in the atmosphere. Purchase of drones in the event of surveillance by law enforcers can be relatively expensive especially if the drones needed are many since one drone cannot be able to serve a whole City. In terms of cost, educating the personnel on how to use the drones can be costly and also time-consuming. The law enforcement officers are expected to explain in details every footage recorded by the drone and they also need to be trained on how to fly them.
The ability of drones is limited. Despite them being useful in surveillance, drones cannot establish effective communication with people for far reached intelligence. On the other hand, drones are not able to capture any abandoned war equipment. Drones are also considered dangerous due to their heavy spinning blade.
Drone technology has been widely used by defense organizations over time. Portable surveillance drones to be specific are being used by ground forces on a regular basis. Most of the drones are being made exclusively for surveillance purposes, while others are for offensive operations purpose. Before the use of drones by law enforcement personnel to counter the threat of surveillance, privacy advocates have taken the step on requiring warrants. Some legislative efforts, however, have been aimed at giving restrictions on the authority's use of drone technology. Those advocates are not really focused on more sensible legislation that addresses harms irrespective of the used technology. The technology is becoming more popular and many law enforcement organizations have reconsidered to start using surveillance drones. The police to be specific want an introduction of drone usage since the military was already using the drone technology ever since it began. Initiating this step should be a matter to put to consideration, keeping in mind the pros and cons posed by the use of drones.
Kardasz, P., Doskocz, J., Wiejkut, P., & Zarzycki, H. (2016). Journal of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Drones and Possibilities of Their Using, 46-57.
Krassanakis, V., Da Silva, M. P., & Ricordel, V. (2018). Drones. Monitoring Human Visual Behavior during the Observation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, 5-11.
Mulero-Pazamany, M., Sattler, T., Jenny, S. E., Tablado, Z., & Negro, J. (2017). A Systematic Review. Unmanned Aircraft Systems as a New Source of Disturbance for Wildlife, 12-18.
Walsh, J. I. (2011). Forthcoming in Terrorism and Political Violence. Do Drone Strikes Degrade Al Qaeda? Evidence from Propaganda Output, 9-14.
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