Unmanned Aerial Systems, or UAS, technology promotes better information accuracy, public safety, and communication effectiveness and transparency. UAS are small, remote-controlled aerial vehicles that can be equipped with a camera to document crash and crime scenes, disaster areas, large-scale events and city projects and features. UAS technology gives public service agencies another tool to improve service delivery and maintain a high-performance government, delivering information and perspectives that otherwise would not be possible.
As with any new system or technology employed by the city, a rigorous review of the technology was conducted, including assessments of successful UAS programs at several regional peer cities. The review informed a citywide usage policy for Bellevue's UAS program, including specific guidelines about equipment usage, appropriate purposes for gathering content, and retention policies that consider privacy and value to residents. As a smart city, Bellevue is committed to assessing the latest technology tools and tactics to better serve the community. The UAS assessment concluded that using this technology would be beneficial to the public good in many functions within the city
UAS value in Bellevue
UAS allows the city to increase its ability to deliver important services to residents in areas including but not limited to:
- Transportation safety – UAS technology allows workers to get a better view of projects from all angles to ensure structure quality control, better understand traffic patterns, aide in education efforts, and in the instance of crashes, better assess the scene to determine if certain safety improvements could help prevent future crashes.
- Public safety – Police and Fire departments can use UAS technology in collision, crime scene and fire investigations to better document and refer back to the state of a scene at the time of the initial investigation. UAS also allows for real-time assessment of active scenes to inform safety strategies in addressing fires or in-progress crimes. UAS technology can be deployed in search and rescue efforts and UAS systems can be sent into areas that may be unsafe for responders. In cases of major disasters, UAS technology can survey a broad area to help emergency coordinators plan response and recovery efforts and prioritize resources.
- Communications – UAS technology allows the city to share more complete, accurate and transparent images and video of a variety of projects, events, and features in the city. UAS offers unparalleled perspectives that are compelling and helpful to communicating key information.
Currently, the city is actively using UAS technology in the following departments, governed by the citywide UAS policy directives and within the department-specific use cases posted below: