Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Trickle-Down Technology for Public Safety

Public safety agencies need all they help they can get with technology. It is important for people to understand that "cutting edge technology" for law enforcement is often decades old ideas that trickled down from the very expensive Department of Defense market to the pathetically cheap public safety market.

Charge-coupled device cameras, chip cameras, are a good example. They've begun to appear in patrol cars, at the end of bomb squad robots, and on the end of SWAT team telescoping poles. But CCD cameras weren't created for law enforcement. They were created for overhead imagery. Spy satellites. And they had their origins in the 1960's and early 70's.

Heres my prediction: The next wave of surveillance technology that will find its way into law enforcement hands will be unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Most people know them from the Iraq wars as unmanned aerial vehicles - UAVs. UASs are still way beyond the budgets of most non-federal agencies, but the price will be coming down on the earliest models, the Model A's of UAVs. And the skillset required to successfully operate law enforcement UAVs will drop dramatically to the level of the street cop. So, it probably wouldn't be a bad idea for law enforcement administrators to start looking at UASs as cost-effective alternatives to manned aerial vehicles such as helicopters. Get the grant writers cranked up, because someday soon, the UASs are going to hit the civilian market.

Here are some links to some excellent introductory material.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems Roadmap 2005-2030, Office of the Secretary of Defense, August 2005 (9 MB PDF file)

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Uninhabited Combat Aerial Vehicles, Defense Science Board, February 2004 (850 KB PDF file)

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Background and Issues for Congress, April 25, 2003


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