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NSW Rolls Out Fire and Rescue Drones to Push Clean-Up

NSW’s Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) crews are using ground-breaking drone technology to help spot and clear leftover flood debris in cane fields across the Northern Rivers. The region’s Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and Minister for Flood Recovery noted that the drones, known as Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), are significantly aiding the ongoing clean-up and recovery effort.

Two teams of drone operators from FRNSW’s Bushfire and Aviation Unit are working in the Northern Rivers to identify and map the location of dangerous debris. The FRNSW Deputy Commissioner stated that this is the first time the drones, purchased with funding in response to the Black Summer bush fires, have been used in the flood recovery effort.

The teams conduct reconnaissance flights using smaller drones and once dangerous or bulky waste material is identified it is larger RPAS’s, which can pinpoint the size and location of the debris, are sent in. After the data is processed, QR codes can be sent to the cane growers. This provides them with real-time maps of their properties, identifying where the obstacles are located. The growers can then remove the debris with the help of Resilience NSW and the Environment Protection Authority.

The flood event in February and March had such a devastating and widespread impact, including for many cane farmers who four months on are still finding debris strewn through their fields, NSW’s Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and Minister for Flood Recovery said.

She noted that items like fridges, washing machines, gas cylinders, shipping containers and even a swimming pool are being found in cane fields across the Northern Rivers. This sort of debris could damage farming equipment like harvesters and risk ruining harvest season activities, which is the last thing our growers need after being impacted by the floods.

While the waters may have receded months ago, the recovery effort continues and the NSW Government is committed to using any and all means necessary to help the flood-affected communities of the Northern Rivers bounce back, the Minister added.

Across the globe, the demand for drone services around the world continues to rise. This can be attributed to the vast array of benefits that drones provide across different industry verticals. The application of drone services in the agricultural sector helps the farmers in optimising the use of the seed, fertilizers, water, and the rest of the others, to remove weeds, pests, and fungi by taking the right action, to save time spent on crop scouting, to improve variable-rate prescriptions in real-time and estimate yield from a field. The use of drones in agriculture also helps in spraying fertilizer, herbicide, fungicide, pesticide, seeds, and desiccants precisely.

Furthermore, drone services provide inspection & monitoring services and thus, demand for drone services is growing across military and defence, construction and infrastructure, transport, logistics, and warehousing, amongst others. Across military and defence, drone services provide potential benefits such as anti-terror, border security, counterinsurgency, and crime control.

These help in detecting threats and identifying risk-prone areas from a remote location, conducting reconnaissance missions and tracking illegal activities without risking lives, conducting surveillance, and gathering actionable intelligence. With high-quality cameras, sensors, and other components, drones offer high-quality data to the end-users. Drones can capture high-quality images for inspection and other operations.

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