New drones to police Carnival bands

The T&T Po­lice Ser­vice will be mak­ing full use of tech­nol­o­gy for next week’s ma­jor Car­ni­val fes­tiv­i­ties.

Speak­ing dur­ing yes­ter­day week­ly brief­ing at the Po­lice Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing in Port of Spain, Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith said of­fi­cers will be us­ing a new state of the art drone to help with re­mote sur­veil­lance of the cel­e­bra­tions.

The Silent Fal­con un­manned aer­i­al ve­hi­cle (UAV or drone) will re­place the toy drones cur­rent­ly in use, he said.

“One of the things again that you would see dif­fer­ent­ly is the con­cept of drones. Now the drones we would have seen in Trinidad and To­ba­go over the last few years, those are the drones you would usu­al­ly buy in a Toys R Us or Wal­mart store.

“The con­cept of the drone we are go­ing to be util­is­ing here is some­thing that’s go­ing to be a first in Trinidad and To­ba­go,” Grif­fith said.

He said while they were im­ple­ment­ing them dur­ing Car­ni­val sea­son they will pri­mar­i­ly be used to se­cure the na­tion’s bor­ders.

The drone is a so­lar-elec­tric un­manned air­craft and in­cludes a ground con­trol sta­tion. It re­quires two op­er­a­tors to func­tion—one to con­trol the air­craft and the oth­er its pay­load, such as cam­eras.

It has a range of up to 100 kilo­me­tres and has a set-up time of 30 min­utes and a tran­sit time of 20 min­utes to pre­pare in-be­tween flights.

“This will turn night in­to day. It would be able to lock on­to cer­tain things, pick up on cer­tain in­for­ma­tion, feed­ing in­for­ma­tion to the Op­er­a­tional Com­mand Cen­tre in re­al time and this would play a phe­nom­e­nal part in ac­tu­al­ly deal­ing with look­ing at every­thing that is tak­ing place for Car­ni­val,” the CoP said.

At the time, he was un­able to give an ex­act fig­ure on how many drones will be used but in­di­cat­ed there will be ei­ther three or four.

The drones, he said, were much cheap­er to em­ploy than the use of he­li­copters and un­like oth­er meth­ods of air sur­veil­lance could pro­vide in­for­ma­tion in re­al time.

Grif­fith al­so said the TTPS will work along­side the de­vel­op­ers for the “D’ Junc­tion” mo­bile app to give re­al-time up­dates on band lo­ca­tions, as well as show users the near­est po­lice sta­tion, post, or pa­trol. Founder and de­vel­op­er of the D’ Junc­tion app, Ria Karim, said the most im­por­tant fea­ture the app of­fers is a band track­ing mech­a­nism.

“It re­al­ly was de­vel­oped out of ex­pe­ri­ence and out of the un­der­stand­ing of a glar­ing gap, a miss­ing link in terms of peo­ple be­ing able to safe­ly and se­cure­ly nav­i­gate our towns and cities dur­ing Car­ni­val time, es­pe­cial­ly in an en­vi­ron­ment which may be un­fa­mil­iar to them,” she said.

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