Public Safety Drones: Eyes in the Sky and Beyond

“Up in the sky! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No! It’s a safety drone!”

That may not sound particularly exciting to you. But to anyone in the safety industry, it represents an entirely new era. Public safety is something that concerns every one of us. Whether you work in the construction industry or fight forest fires in California, you can appreciate any tech that improves the chances of everyone going home in one piece at the end of the day.

At first, many of us considered drones to be a novelty. Something that could amuse a kid for a few minutes before its battery life ran out. However, as the technology advanced we saw the potential for everything from tactical police drones to construction use. Now, the public safety sector is benefiting from these buzzing pieces of tech. Keep reading to learn how

The basics of drone technology

The development of drones, or unmanned aircraft systems, has really been an exercise in duality. On one hand, manufacturers wanted to mass produce something that could be purchased and enjoyed by large groups of people. This meant keeping costs down and availability up.

On the other hand, scientists wanted to expand on the technology to create something that had many functional, tactical, and professional uses. Because of this, many of us have seen drones produced at both ends of the quality scale.

a safetytek man with drone The technology itself is relatively old, and even the newest models operate on similar principles. An object is suspended using thrust and propulsion, and controlled with a basic user interface. Remote controls combined with longer battery life and more diverse programming have brought drones into the world of robotics.

The introduction of smartphones, Wi-Fi, wireless communication systems, and remote control capabilities has led to an entirely new generation of drone technology. Drones themselves are getting smarter and more capable. This means that public safety drones are taking a more active role in evaluating and acting in dangerous situations. Read on to learn more about the different types of drones being used as tools by law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The different types of safety drones.

When we talk about different types of public safety drones, many people envision drones outfitted for specific safety tasks. While this is true to an extent, nearly any drone with the right technology can be used as a public safety resource.

Below we’ve included some scenarios where drones can be used to protect the public and prevent professionals from having to enter unsafe situations.

Hostage situations or stand-offs

During a hostage situation or dangerous standoff, police can’t always walk in and evaluate the position or capabilities of the criminals. Drones using cameras are able to go into these types of scenarios and gather images that provide authorities with valuable information. Knowing exactly how to enter a building, where hostages might be, and how to prevent people from getting hurt are all essential to the safety of professionals and the public.

 

a safetytek drones police

Search and rescue situations

There’s nothing more terrifying than a person or child being lost in any kind of surroundings. It can become exponentially worse when it involves the outdoors or unknown terrain. Using a remote-controlled search and rescue drone to survey the area allows rescuers to search large locations quickly. Time is of the essence when a person is being exposed to the elements. Some models have been outfitted with heat-sensitive technology to spot people who may be lost or hiding for any reason.

Surveillance

There’s no shortage of situations that could benefit from better surveillance. Whether drones are being used for sting operations or military purposes, anything that prepares authorities to safely enter a dangerous scenario is a plus.

Construction assessments

Another use involves assessing construction worksites. Drones are able to go up and provide accurate measurements of projects, allowing workers to better plan for safety scenarios. Certain drones can also be used to assess worksite damage or disasters. Any situation that involves the collapse of the building or infrastructure can require a bird’s eye view of both the damage and potential survivors. This helps rescuers plan and prepare to extract survivors and repair the worksite.

There are many other scenarios in which public safety drones can be used including car accidents, disasters at sea, airplane crashes, and anything that could benefit from a more versatile perspective. It’s simply a matter of making sure that drone technology is in line with public safety needs.

 

a safetytek construction drone

The future of public safety drone technology

As drone technology advances, we can expect to see these handy flying machines used for everything from basic deliveries to full-on military applications. The future of the public safety drone is only limited by the imagination of scientists and programmers. New materials coupled with smart technology is giving birth to a new generation of drones capable of doing more than we ever thought possible.

Public safety is one area where technology is being applied for the greater good. However, it’s essential that we continue to make drones available to authorities and various departments that can benefit from them the most.

Safety technology is moving in new directions

We’ve covered a lot of fascinating topics related to the world of safety. In reality, technology has the capability to establish a safer working environment for everyone. It’s just a matter of knowing which technology to use where and when. If you’re considering safety software, SafetyTek can help! Reach out to us today for more information on ways that we can improve your worksite.

 

Construction Robotics Creating Safer Worksites

Technology hasn’t always gone hand-in-hand with the construction industry. The labor required to build, renovate, and repair isn’t exactly easy to duplicate in the digital space. In fact, a McKinsey Report indicated that the construction industry was one of the slowest to grow in productivity and digitization from 2005-2015.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that robots really became a viable possibility for construction. Since then, we’ve seen amazing advances in the potential use of robotics in high-risk industries. However, there’s still a long way to go before we see integral parts of projects completely automated. Keep reading to learn more about how robots could change the construction industry.

Robotics have overcome many construction barriers.

While many advances have been made, we aren’t exactly poised to see android tradies and self-driving front loaders any time soon. Robots are notorious for performing well in highly-controlled environments- which worksites aren’t.

The challenge of automation is to teach technology to respond appropriately in unpredictable situations. The construction industry is dangerous. The risks associated with worksites require quick thinking and perfectly calibrated responses. A robot can perform repetitive tasks, but just isn’t as efficient in evolving scenarios.

a construction robot armAlthough robotics is still behind in the world of construction, new technological advances are creating a platform for future integration. These are primarily centered on tasks that require repetitive actions and limited activity.

Artificial intelligence is required to create the kind of thinking robots capable of reacting to the uncertainty of the worksite. However, this level of tech isn’t available on a wide scale and isn’t cost-effective for many contractors. No one wants to invest millions of dollars in a robot that gets damaged the first day on the job.

So, the problem lies in developing a robot that’s capable of making complex decisions in a fraction of a second—and durable enough to survive worksite wear and tear. With a growing shortage of construction workers, there’s never been a better time for robots to break into the industry. Read on to learn about some of the robotics and automation solutions being developed right now.

The different types of construction robots.

As we said earlier, the first robots to be used in construction work on a wide scale will be ones designed to automate repetitive and monotonous tasks. The less thinking the machine has to do, the easier it is to develop a usable program. There are several promising prototypes, including:

Masonry robots

One of the easier tasks to automate is brick laying. Construction Robotics’ SAM100 (SAM stands for semi-automated mason) is designed to perform simple masonry tasks. It can do so at a speed that’s several times faster than that of a human. Repetitive tasks may seem like an easy job to fill on a construction site. However, there’s a huge shortage of skilled workers, and not every project can spare people to spend time laying bricks.

It’s also a relatively labor-intensive task. People get tired, need breaks, and can suffer injuries from overexertion. A robotic arm can continue to lay bricks and never require more than an occasional stop for maintenance.

 

a robot masonry arm

Robots designed for heavy lifting

It’s easy to equate this to heavy equipment, but robots that can handle lifting and moving in smaller areas are a huge asset. These types of machines are referred to as collaborative robots because they work alongside their human counterparts.

Again, Construction Robotics has developed a model called MULE that can attach to heavy objects and make moving them into position much easier than other methods. This allows humans to guide the heavy materials, reducing the potential for damage that occurs at multi-stage movement.

Drones

Drones have become a huge player in the world of safety. They can accurately scope out an area before first responders or other professionals go in, and they’re being designed to mitigate the risks in construction as well.

While drones are controlled remotely, they still qualify as a type of robot because of the nature of their technology. They can be used to survey a construction site, measure progress, and even carry supplies within reason. There are incredible possibilities for drone technology, but we still have a long way to go towards developing all of them.

3D printing

3D printing has come a long way from the novel printers we started with. Robots with 3D printing capabilities are now being used to create everything from custom construction equipment to entire buildings.

This type of robotics is bringing new resources directly to the worksite and making it easier for contractors and workers to gain quick access to what they need.

Demolition robots

No, this isn’t exactly the demolition nightmare from iRobot, but these robots have a definite place in the construction industry. Tearing down a building is both dangerous and unpredictable. Being able to use technology that can automate and withstand the process is a great way to create a safer and more efficient worksite.

Demolition robots are still far from ready to take over that construction niche, but we can expect to see them taking part in the industry within the next decade.

 

a demolition robot

We still have a long way to go.

It’s nice to imagine robots being available to fill in the missing manpower and taking part in creating a safer worksite. However, we still have a long way to go before they can completely automate any part of the construction industry.

Artificial intelligence coupled with collaborative robotics is on track to create machines that mitigate risk and make construction a safer industry all around. In the meantime, SafetyTek is using some of the most advanced software available to keep employees safe. Contact us today for more information, and share your high-tech encounters with us on social media!

 

Wearable Safety Technology

When we talk about safety technology, many people assume that we’re talking about software that helps track and improve safety on the worksite. However, the latest and greatest in safety tech comes in a wide array of shapes, sizes, and capabilities.

Wearable devices are usually associated with fitness and mobile task management, but new technology is making it an integral part of safety on the job. Keep reading to learn more about how wearable safety technology is changing the risk management landscape for the better.

Wearables are increasing awareness.

Safety wearables come in all shapes and sizes and are made with one specific goal in mind: to increase awareness of a worker’s surroundings and to decrease safety risks. They’ve become an innovative window to the worksite, providing data to both the wearer and their employer.

Imagine having the technology to generate an immediate alert at nearly the exact second of the accident. This is the type of advantage that could make safety wearables an essential tool at every worksite. All it takes is a second for someone to fall victim to a near-fatal accident. The longer that accident goes undetected, the greater the risk of fatality or permanent injury.

safety technology firefighter with hoseThis tech also allows employers and safety professionals to track behaviors on the job. That data opens up an entirely new way to identify weak points that could develop into dangerous situations. Being able to accurately predict the likelihood of an accident gives organizations the power to avoid them.

The future of safety is already here. Wearables can monitor and mitigate dangers using a reliable wireless network. Many employers are already taking advantage of wearable safety technology to improve procedures, shorten response times, and identify risky behaviors.

The different types of safety wearables

Many of us are familiar with fitness monitors or smartwatches, but the wearables used to enhance safety are a bit more specialized.

Personal monitors

This includes any personal safety device that provides workers with a warning or feedback that alerts them to danger or high-risk behaviors. Smart hard hats have been made that vibrate or set off an alarm if the worker falls into a microsleep.

Exhaustion is a huge problem and one that contributes to dangerous situations regularly. Not only does this device help them stay alert, but it also provides feedback to the employer that they can use to improve schedules and increase their awareness of worksite dangers.

Other devices allow workers to monitor their vital signs and send an instant signal if they need help. Being able to push a button and expect an emergency response provides more than just peace of mind for anyone working in a high-risk environment.

Tracking vital signs such as heart rate or blood pressure can also provide data on stress responses to certain situations. When a person is under a great deal of stress, it can lead to panic or impair their ability to reason. However, when an employee knows when they’re becoming stressed, they can leave the situation before it escalates.

Allowing employers to have access to that data gives them important information on how workers perceive certain activities. Understanding the stress points can influence scheduling, staffing, and policy changes that improve working conditions for everyone.

safety technology man operating heavy equipment

 

Environmental monitors

The construction industry has one of the highest fatal accident rates in the U.S. Workers are constantly being exposed to dangerous situations involving heavy equipment, toxic materials, and physical strain.

With all the risks associated with a worksite, any type of early warning system is a life-saving advantage. We’ve mentioned hard hats that can alert an employee when they nod off, but there are also models that can alert them to environmental dangers.

Head injuries are serious in any profession. Having a hard hat that vibrates or uses visual and auditory cues to indicate the proximity of a potential hazard is a literal lifesaver. It may not eliminate injuries from falling debris or materials, but it may give someone the fraction of a second they need to react.

Personal monitors that measure gas levels or the presence of hazardous materials are a preventative necessity on some sites. This type of wearable safety technology offsets a danger that might otherwise be undetectable. There’s something to be said for joining forces with tech that enhances our ability to sense environmental changes. In mines and other highly sensitive situations, organizations have invested in devices that use radio waves to measure the distance between workers and the objects around them.

Along with protecting miners from cave-ins, this technology also allows those operating heavy equipment to be aware of others in their vicinity.

safety technology man in hazard suit dealing with chemicals

 

Comfort and performance tech

Last, but not least, are safety wearables that maximize worker comfort and enhance performance. Heated construction jackets have been around for years, but technological improvements have made them a cold-weather asset. Temperature control can prevent instances of hypothermia and increase productivity in spite of adverse weather.

Comfort is great, but the next wearable is something straight out of construction sci-fi. Virtual reality goggles are allowing project managers and other employees to view a 3-D overlay of blueprints at the actual construction site. Seeing how everything will fit together is changing the way we plan and increasing project precision.

safety technology blueprints

 

The concerns surrounding safety wearables

As cool as safety wearables are, they’re still a subject of controversy on some worksites. Employees are afraid that their bosses are using these devices to monitor their performance, and no one likes being under constant scrutiny.

The key to successfully integrating wearable technology into any workplace is transparency. Remember to respect the privacy or workers, and only use the information for its intended purpose. Safety is everyone’s number one priority and anything that makes it possible should be approached in a positive way.

For more information on improving working conditions for your employees and maximizing your safety resources, contact SafetyTek. And feel free to share your experiences with safety wearables in the comments below or on social media!