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Key considerations for scaling your public safety drone program

Launching or expanding a drone program requires meticulous planning and forethought

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Launching or expanding a drone program necessitates meticulous planning and forethought. As drones emerge as indispensable assets in public safety and emergency response, agencies must evaluate various factors before implementation.

From addressing privacy concerns and regulatory compliance to selecting appropriate equipment, there are a lot of considerations. In this article, we explore the recommended practices for agencies establishing or scaling their drone operations.


When creating a drone program, involving the community from the start is crucial to address concerns about trust, privacy and civil liberties. Talking to community groups, authorities, media and others upfront helps develop clear policies and guidelines. This means setting up ongoing communication to deal with any worries about using drones.


Transparency Dashboard Overview from BRINC LiveOps Drone Operations Platform


Agencies should keep a public record of daily drone flights, including why they flew, where they went, telemetry data, dates, and times. This helps community members easily see why drones are used for public safety. Also, having a flight dashboard can show how often drones are used in emergencies.


Transparency Dashboard Flight Log from BRINC LiveOps Drone Operations Platform



Drone operations are subject to stringent FAA regulations and may be influenced by state and local ordinances. Agencies contemplating drone adoption must have a comprehensive understanding of FAA waivers, Certificate of Authorization (COA) and the accompanying operational standards.

Part 107

Officers seeking drone piloting certification can do so through the FAA’s aeronautical knowledge test, leading to the acquisition of a Remote Pilot Certificate under FAA Part 107.



Certificate of Authorization (COA)

To improve operations, agencies can choose the FAA Part 91 COA, which offers customized standards and criteria for accrediting drone pilots. While it requires a more thorough process, it grants pilots broader flight permissions.

Moreover, a COA allows for specific drone operations beyond standard FAA Part 107 regulations. Usually issued to government or public agency operations, COAs enable activities such as flying in restricted airspace and self-certifying drone pilots.

Tactical Beyond Visual Line of Sight (TBVLOS)

TBVLOS waivers empower first responders to operate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in critical emergencies, such as fires or search missions, where human life is at risk.

The FAA grants these waivers under specific conditions. These conditions include possessing a valid Part 91 COA, altitude limitations, and the obligation to revert to Visual Line-of-sight operations when feasible.

First Responder Beyond Visual Line of Sight (FR-BVLOS)

FR-BVLOS waivers facilitate the implementation of DFR (Drone as First Responder) operations, marking a significant advancement in public safety drone initiatives. DFR involves deploying drones swiftly to address emergencies upon receiving a service call and furnishing vital data to aid response strategies.

These waivers, sanctioned by the FAA, are subject to rigorous terms, encompassing prerequisites such as a valid COA, restrictions on altitude and proximity to obstructions, and the mandate to revert to Visual Line of Sight operations whenever possible.


Starting a drone program requires careful planning, patience, and dedication. Developing a long-term strategy to maintain the agency’s drone initiative is essential for success.

Using data-driven analysis on operations provides valuable insights into potential return on investment (ROI). Working with UAS providers to customize programs for public safety helps measure efficiencies, reduce manpower, and allocate resources effectively.

Using UAS in public safety isn’t just about tech; it’s about smart decision making, resource management, and boosting safety and efficiency.


As drone programs grow, so does the data they collect and store, impacting communities. Prioritizing careful vendor selection and strong data storage protocols is crucial for addressing cybersecurity risks.

These risks include data in transit, data at rest and data governance. End-to-end encryption and strict access controls are vital. Trust in vendors, particularly their compliance with CJIS standards, is essential.



Adhering to the NDAA and supply chain security is crucial for maintaining integrity. Federal policy bans using taxpayer funds to buy drones from Chinese companies, stressing the need for domestic UAS adoption. This viewpoint is widely shared, underlining the necessity for strict regulations on drone procurement by state or local agencies.


Drones should not be seen in isolation but as integral components of a comprehensive UAS program. Their versatility, serving purposes such as outdoor overwatch, indoor tactical response, mapping, and DFR operations, has proven invaluable across various jurisdictions.

To effectively leverage drones, agencies must thoroughly assess their specific requirements. Seamless integration of UAS operations into established law enforcement, firefighting, and EMS protocols is essential for maximizing their utility.

An essential aspect of this integration involves embedding drone functionality into core emergency response strategies. By incorporating drones into routine operations, agencies can better serve their communities.



Success relies on an efficient platform to manage and operate drone programs. Integration with BRINC LiveOps, a cloud-based platform, provides a comprehensive suite of features to enhance UAS operations seamlessly.

This includes live stream viewing, 2D floor-plan analysis, communication facilitation and teleoperation. LiveOps offers tools for fleet management, operation tracking and real-time community transparency. Additionally, it integrates smoothly with existing agency software solutions like CAD and 911 call systems.

The presence of a platform to manage, organize, and operate a drone program is vital for success. Integration with BRINC LiveOps, a cloud-based platform streamlining drone program operations, offers a comprehensive suite of features to enhance UAS operations seamlessly. From live stream viewing and 2D floor-plan data to communication facilitation and teleoperation, LiveOps equips agencies with the tools necessary for fleet management, operation tracking and real-time community transparency. Furthermore, LiveOps seamlessly integrates into existing agency software solutions, including CAD and 911 call systems.


Launching or expanding a drone program demands careful consideration of privacy, regulations, budgeting and integration. Prioritizing transparency, community engagement and cybersecurity is vital for success. Platforms like BRINC LiveOps facilitate management and integration, ensuring efficiency and innovation in public safety efforts.

If your agency needs help reviewing operations and leveraging our expertise to enhance your program, schedule a drone program review with the BRINC team today.


In collaboration with Don Redmond, BRINC’s Vice President of Advanced Public Safety Projects and retired Captain at the Chula Vista Police Department, we present the Drone as First Responder (DFR) playbook. This comprehensive guide offers a foundational blueprint for embarking on your DFR journey. Authored by Don Redmond, this playbook distills years of experience and expertise into actionable insights, equipping agencies with the knowledge to navigate the complexities of implementing drone-first responder programs.

For agencies seeking a tailored approach to their unique needs, Don Redmond is available for consultation. Schedule a consultation with Don to leverage his expertise and ensure your DFR initiative is set up for success.