UAS in Public Safety Study (HB17-1070)

House Bill 17-1070, concerning the study of the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for public safety applications, became law on June 6, 2017. The act stated that:

“...UPON RECEIVING SUFFICIENT MONEY IN THE FORM OF GIFTS, GRANTS, AND DONATIONS, THE CENTER OF EXCELLENCE SHALL CONDUCT A STUDY CONCERNING THE INTEGRATION OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS WITHIN STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS THAT RELATE TO CERTAIN PUBLIC-SAFETY FUNCTIONS.” (link)

Since no new funding was provided in the act, the study was to begin when the CoE is able to secure sufficient funds through gifts, grants, and donations.  The CoE publicized this study, contacted manufacturers, investigated grant opportunities and set up mechanisms to accept monetary and in-kind donations. As of January 2019, the CoE has not received funding of the level required to formally conduct such a study.  In addition, the use of UAS in public safety has materially progressed. The CoE has been directly involved in those efforts as discussed below. At this time, the CoE does not believe a formal study such as proposed by HB 17-1070 is required or likely to be viewed as a good investment. Consequently, the CoE is no longer pursuing a formal study and report as outlined in HB 17-1070.

However, the fact that the formal study proposed by HB 17-1070 will not proceed does not mean the CoE has not studied, developed, and supported integration of UAS into public safety operations.  On the contrary, the CoE has conducted significant study and development supporting UAS operations in public safety and will continue to do so. However, that work is embodied in smaller, more focused research and development.

Some examples of the work the CoE has performed include (not exhaustive):

  • tested and evaluated small UAS hardware and associated software to develop best practices and recommendations for agencies utilizing UAS
  • developed sUAS Standard Operations Guidelines for Colorado Department of Public Safety (CDPS) sUAS operations
  • developed a pilot training and certification for CDPS pilots including federal certifications and focused skills test (UAS Maneuvering Test) for CDPS pilots
  • conducted test operations on wildland fires to evaluate effectiveness of UAS operations.
  • supported State and Local public safety agencies in operation response
  • performed significant outreach and training of State and local agencies, supporting those agencies in effectively starting UAS program that meet needs in a cost efficient manner
  • performed specific testing aimed at determining the level of investment required for a particular mission
  • identified effective 3rd party training and services that can be utilized.  While the CoE does not recommend particular partners, we do review and audit programs so as to be able to speak in an informed manner and also to represent public safety in 3rd party forums.

The CoE continues to invest in this area:

  • working with state and national training and certification agencies such as NFPA, NIST and NWCG to help direct training and certification in a direction that support sUAS use by public safety in Colorado
  • continuing testing and researching looking at new uses for UAS and ground based robotics.
  • developed flight tracking website for CDPS UAS operators.
  • created on-line testing facility to proctor and document UAS maneuvering testing.

For more information the CoE involvement in UAS and other robot technologies, contact Garrett Seddon, the CoE Unmanned Systems Projects Manager.