Central New York, Environment, Technology

22 Drones Will Now be Used to Combat Environmental Issues in New York

Environmental Studies Expert talks about the upside and downside of the new DEC Drone Program. (c) 2017 Mye Owens

By Mye Owens Syracuse, N.Y. (NCC News) – The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced that drones will be used throughout New York.

“The use of drone technology will help us do our jobs better and faster while saving taxpayer dollars,” Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “This technology is helping DEC with everything from petroleum spills and wildlife surveys to search and rescue missions, forest fires, and natural disasters,” in a DEC press release.

Although the DEC plans on using the drones to help benefit the community, there could be a down-side to using these drones. Some may not like the idea of these drone flying around in the area. This is the concern of Richard Smardon, Environmental Science Expert. “There’s always this issue of whose watching me, like big brother , so some people might get a little upset,” he explains.  The DEC will only be using the drones, to help with the safety of those who live in New York.

The DEC successful missions include:

  • A spill response in Staten Island, NYC
  • Fire Island Beach Restoration Survey in Suffolk County, Long Island
  • Southern Pine Beetle Survey in Suffolk County, Long Island
  • Phragmites Survey in St. Lawrence County
  • Bat Cave Survey in Mineville
  • Monitoring Traffic at the Great New York State Fair in Syracuse
  • Lake Ontario Coastal Erosion Survey
  • Hurricane Harvey aid in Texas
  • assist New York Power grid in Puerto Rico

Fourteen pilots have been training for several months, to fly the drones. There are seven drone locations throughout New York. The DEC drones will be piloted by them from the ground.

Rangers respond to around 250 rescue calls every year, according to the DEC. During the nigh time,the drones may have a tough time taking video of what is going on below, because of how dark it can get at night. To help the drones see better, each drone has sensors built in. The sensors will allow the drones to help rescue crews on the ground get to where they are needed.

Benefits of the DEC drone program, (reported by the DEC):

  • Documenting rare and endangered species and habitats
  • Radio signal tracking for wildlife
  • Geological mapping related to ground water quality
  • Mapping and documenting layouts of property boundaries, public facilities, state forests, parks, and campgrounds for better management practices
  • Documenting illegal hazardous substance releases by assessing changes in the color spectrum of ground vegetation
  • Sampling remote waterboodies
  • Reconstructing accident acenes
  • Documenting marine resources for overlaying onto nautical charts with correct spatial orientation