Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approves Public Safety small UAS program

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On Tuesday, May 21, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a Public Safety small UAS program in Fairfax County, Virginia. 

The approval comes after two years of work by a county UAS Work Group, which was formed in May 2017, and a UAS Task Force, which was created in fall 2018.

Through the program, UAS will be used to deliver relevant high-quality imagery, data and customized geospatial solutions. This will provide several entities including the Office of Emergency Management, Fire and Rescue, Police and Sheriff with an “enhanced level of operational capability, safety and situational awareness.”

Additionally, the UAS program is designed to help public safety personnel with a variety of operations, including but not limited to, search and rescue, flooding assessments, and hazardous materials responses.

Fairfax County says that the UAS program will focus on “responsible and accountable operations; the safety of the public and UAS flight crews; the protection of individual privacy, civil rights and civil liberties; compliance with all applicable federal, state and local laws, regulations, and policies; public information; data management; and operation and training requirements.”

Now that the program has been approved, county public safety agencies will begin an approximately 90-day process that includes purchasing equipment, getting pilots certified, and flight/ground school training. The county expects a “go live” for real-world operational flights beginning in late August/early September.

Fairfax County says that a UAS program manager will be appointed. To provide oversight to the program and ensure adherence to the county’s UAS program manual and training requirements, a UAS Steering Committee, with public representation, will be created as well.  

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