Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityDrone Technology andUniversity PublicSafetyProgram ProposalHonors SuperstudioMadeline Hower, Sunny Makwana, and Cason KerrickDecember 3, 2020
IntroductionDrones are a form of aircraft that are very high-tech, controlled remotely by people awayfrom the vehicle, and used to conduct many tasks. These devices are both cost-effectivecompared to other surveillance technology and have strong surveillance and reconnaissanceskills (Sexton, 2016). Drone technology is a relatively new field that has recently found footingin many different subject areas over the past few years. While they originally were intended formilitary use, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are now being developed academically,recreationally, and for all types of professions. In the last year, the rise of a global pandemic hasdrastically changed the way societies all over the world are operating. Communities are wearingmasks, socially distancing, and prohibiting gatherings to limit virus exposure to high riskindividuals (Lu, 2020).Some communities are beginning to utilize drone technology in their police forces tosafely enforce social distancing guidelines and maintain a safe environment. For example, localpolice forces in New Jersey, state police in Western Australia, local police in Italy, and somepolice forces in England are all planning how to use drones to enforce laws (Gupta et al., 2020).Drones can be used to monitor individuals in many public locations including parks,transportation methods, and beaches. Body heat temperature sensors can be put onto drones toaid in determining the amount of persons present in a particular location, and if the numberdetected is in violation of rules, loudspeakers placed on the drone can be used to inform peopleto disperse. This loudspeaker communication via drone can help inform the public about theconstant changing rules in many different locations (Gupta et al., 2020).There are many costs associated with drone technology use that must be considered in aplan involving these vehicles. One of the largest challenges in this implementation is communityconcerns and public perception. Ensuring that the community understands, approves, and isinvolved in the collaboration of police with UAVs will be an ongoing process. Other challengesto this implementation include regulations and policies, technology, privacy, financial and legalconcerns, and liability. Despite these many concerns, there are many benefits includingpreservation of officer safety, greater coverage of terrain, collection of information, andenhanced recording of criminal activity (Valdovinos, 2016).As of 2004, the FAA chose three universities to use as test sites for Unmanned AerialVehicles; the University of Alaska, Texas A&M, and Virginia Tech (Morris, 2015). Since then,drone technology has been developed significantly and is beginning to be used for manydifferent applications, including public safety (Bennett, 2019). It is predicted that the option touse drone technology to enhance and promote safety on college campuses before expanding tocities and communities will be more successful, as, “colleges and universities want to be on theforefront of this high-tech market (Morris, 2015).” This project aims to develop a programproposal that can be used by Virginia Tech campus to both enforce and inform students about theconstantly changing COVID-19 guidelines. The project addresses this question: How canVirginia Tech Police use drone technology to enhance university public safety and mitigateimpacts of the COVID-19 pandemic? The overall goal of this project is the eventual
implementation of drone technology in community and university public safety; new solutionscontributing to the campus GND/green technology plan.This project incorporates many distinct aspects of both the Green New Deal as well asVirginia Tech's sustainability plan as a baseline for the intended program. Our project envisionsthe development of a single drone prototype to be tested and used on campus by the VirginiaTech police. However, after a few years of testing, we would like to see similar programs beingadapted into college campuses on a wider scale and possibly even national use of this drone forpublic safety purposes. Drones are a much cleaner and more sustainable technology compared tostandard practices. The Rifkin outline of the Green New Deal discussed many initiatives thatneeded to be taken in order for a Green New Deal to be successful. Four distinct points in his listare directly correlated with our project.Our drone prototype will require a charging station which will likely be stationed at thebase of its operations, for instance, the Virginia Tech Police Station. Rifkin's 5th initiative, whichnotes the important addition to infrastructure, specifically “the installation of energy storagetechnology in homes, commercial buildings and industrial and institutional facilities” (Rifkin,2019, 224) closely aligns with the implementation of this charging station. While Rifkin isprimarily addressing a need for a backup power network, in case of climate disaster or cyberattack, our program could aid in the push to make Virginia Tech adhere to the standards Rifkinsets.Rifkin’s initiative number 18 discussed the need to teach the next “student generation” to“learn skills and develop talents that will enable them to create new businesses and becomegainfully employed in the green new deal economy” (Rifkin, 2019, 228). Virginia Tech hasalready begun working to adopt this initiative by offering classes like the Honors Superstudio toprovide students an opportunity to engage in discourse over correlations between different aspectareas including data, innovation, policy, education, and jobs. The addition of drone technologyinto public safety on campus, as our project would, allows for students and faculty to learn newskills and hands-on experience with an increasingly common innovation. This will pave the wayfor outreach on all future Green New Deal policies. The incorporation of these public safetydrones would also provide education to the student generation on the COVID-19 virus, ways tostay safe, and how to ensure others are staying safe. This way of spreading knowledge to themasses through drones would allow for a more rapid sharing of information, and moreopportunity for those willing to develop new talents that pair with the Green New Dealinitiatives.One of the most well-known aspects of Virginia Tech is the quality and quantity ofresearch and development the school produces. This university is at the forefront of innovativethinking in all different fields, and because of this it is an ideal location to develop an ambitiousprogram like the one proposed here. The 21st of Rifkin’s initiatives states that as a nation, wemust be prioritizing the funding of research institutions to substantially increase research anddevelopment, and therefore innovation, in all areas that accompany the transformation into greentechnologies and the third industrial revolution infrastructure (Rifkin, 2019,229). Our project
directly adds to the Virginia Tech green technology infrastructure by improving upon it withdrone technology abilities.In initiative 23, Rifkin stresses the need for us to join with other nations through informaland ongoing collaboration (Rifkin, 2019, 230). While this project is a long way off from globalintegration, it is important to work nationally with other universities, police, and communitiesthat will benefit from this technology. In this project, this is done largely by researching andstudying areas that have prototyped a similar program or incorporated drone technology intotheir public safety initiatives and how or why they succeeded or failed.This report is an initial program proposal for drone technology use for university publicsafety. Three different areas of focus are addressed in this report by the research team. The threefocuses will include an extensive case study of similar programs adopted in other locations, withan analysis of their successes and failures, a proposed survey to be sent to Virginia Tech studentson drone technology and the use of UAVs on campus and a CANVAS module outline used toinform Virginia Tech students of the campus drone guidelines, and a description of currentVirginia Tech policies related to the proposed program and their challenges and neededadoptions.The case study method consists of a literature review of communities using dronetechnology and the analysis of logistics in adapting a drone public safety program in theselocations. Reports from other police departments, communities, and countries using drones forpolicing were also used. Combinations of keywords used to find reliable references included;(drone OR UAV OR unmanned aircraft OR unmanned system) AND (college OR university ORcampus OR student OR) AND (safety OR COVID-19 OR pandemic OR public safety ORsecurity OR coronavirus) AND (police OR community OR policing OR police department ORlocal police).The database used by Virginia Tech (WorldCat.org) as well as Web of Science will bethe primary databases used to gather information. From this information, a survey was developedto gauge the Virginia Tech student body’s willingness or opposition to the future implementationof drone technology for these purposes. As a system of drones used in tracking student location,movement, and interaction raises ethical concerns regarding student privacy, understanding theviewpoints of students is key to ensuring our solution garners as much support as possible. Thesurvey will be anonymous to avoid the process of Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval ofresearch methods. Ideally, the survey should be distributed using simple random sampling from alist of current VT students, but as that method is not possible due to sampling and timelimitations, we have created predicted results to discuss instead.Studying existing Virginia Tech campus plans including the Virginia Tech Fall 2020Covid19 Operational Plan and the 2019 Jeanne Clery Act Report is imperative to theimplementation of the proposed drone plan. Ideas generated on how these plans can becomemore efficient, innovative and sustainable incorporating new drone technologies were made aftercareful analysis and consideration of current Virginia Tech policies.
This research method combines three integral pieces to develop a baseline prototypeprogram to be developed and used by the Virginia Tech Police Department and Virginia Techcampus for enhanced modern school public safety.UAS Terms and TechnologyThere are two major classes of common use drones, commercial and modular.Commercial drones, such as DJI drones, are prebuilt to serve whatever programming they comewith.These drones are built for a specific purpose, such as photography or cinematography. Theother class of drones are modular drones which are built with a handful of core components andare usually designed so that the purpose of the drone can change based on its programming.These drones are often referred to as first-person view (fpv) drones because they are operatedthrough goggles that are connected to an onboard camera.There are two major different fpv systems, analog and digital. Each mode has its benefitsas well as its challenges. Analog does not broadcast as clear of a picture, but has less lag time.On the other hand, digital broadcasts have a much clearer picture but have a slight lag which isnot always good when it comes to flying (DJI). A prime example of the differences between ananalog and digital is a television Older televisions are grainy in comparison to their digitalcounterparts, which paint a high definition picture.Different types of batteries are used with different drones. A drone has to be built withcomponents that can handle the differences in the power levels associated with a certain type ofbattery. The main classes of batteries are either 4 cells (4s) or 6 cells (6s). The more cells onehas, the more power is available; however, the cost of added weight must be taken intoconsideration.FPV drones are built with a multitude of components that must communicate together tocomplete the intended task (FPV, 2019). First, a drone is built on a frame. Frames come indifferent shapes and sizes. They are usually made out of carbon fiber or titanium due to itsstrength and lightweight. The different options for frames mostly differ in the design and theintended purposes. The two main types of frames are freestyle frames and racing frames.Freestyle frames are used to perform tricks and stunts, therefore, these types of frames arecreated heavier and to be more durable,allowing them to hold up after multiple crashes. Racingframes are the opposite, designed to be lightweight to gain faster speeds. Unlike freestyle frames,racing frames s typically have less durabilityThe main components of a quadcopter are the flight controller (FC), the electronic speedcontroller (ESC), the receiver (RX), and the video transmitter (VTX). The flight controller actsas the brain of the drone. One could compare it to acting as the motherboard of a computer, inthat it controls nearly every aspect of the drone. Most of the electronic components directlyattach to the flight controller via either pins or direct soldering. The electronic speed controllerelectronically connects the flight controller to the motors. These controllers come in one of twopossible ways,, individual boards or 4-in-ones, which contain 4 ESCS in a single board. These
send electrical outputs to the motors to change the speed of the motors. They are controlled bythe Flight Controller.The motors attach directly to the frame and come in different kilovolt (kV) ranges. Thedifferent kV’s are used for the different cell types as well as to accommodate a specific torqueneeded to generate a net lift. In general, a quadcopter incorporates 4 motors, two motors spinclockwise, while the other two spin counterclockwise. It is important to note that propellers areattached to motors and come in CW and CCW configurations. Next, a receiver is needed. This isthe direct link between your handheld controller and the quadcopter. Linking the two together bybinding a controller with the specific receiver. The bind has a range from between a few inchesto over a mile, depending on the type of receiver used.Finally, the VTX component relays the signal from the camera to the goggles. Anindividual can change the power consumption on many of the VTXs available for longer orshorter ranges, but it will compromise flight time as it uses more or less power. The VTX is alsoconnected to the camera, which is used to allow the drone operator to see what the drone isseeing. Together the VTX and the Camera relay video information to the goggles which are wornby the drone operator.In an interview with Virginia Tech Police Officers (see Appendix A) discussing thefuture possibility of a prototype drone in collaboration with Virginia Tech, some ideas on whatthe police officers would like to see on the drone were created (Tarter, Pasquarell, Williams, &Zario, 2020). We imagined and brainstormed that the prototype would be built on a framebetween 5 to 7 inches. It would have guards enclosing the propellers for maximum thrustefficiency, as well as protection in case of an accident. The Virginia Tech Police Departmentstrongly suggested that it would have to be able to fly for a duration of at least twenty to thirtyminutes. To meet the requirements for a variety of tasks, the drone prototype would have to bemodular. To do this, a rail system could be used so that components such as a spotlight,loudspeaker, microphone, and a global positioning system unit could be attached.Review of Current Virginia Tech PoliciesVirginia Tech strives to be an innovative campus and in 2018 Virginia Tech first begandrone implementation with the opening of the Virginia Tech Drone Park. As the campus pushesto be more innovative and sustainable, drone technology must be used outside of the cage. Thereare four main initiatives that our project is looking at that directly connect to the Virginia Techcampus.The Virginia Tech Policy 5820 on the Operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems helpsstudents, faculty, and researchers understand the necessary process to use drones both on campusand at the drone park (Foust, 2019). It also covers the requirements necessary to operate dronesalong with the risks and responsibilities. If a drone policing drone network is going to succeed,officers would have to be able to fly outside of the drone park without the tedious task of getting
constant waivers. There is a very good possibility that with the implementation of a drone policeprogram, waivers could be placed in effect for an extended period of time. Police operatorswould be granted use of drones as long as they follow strict adherence to the FAA 107 policy ondrone operations (Tarter, Pasquarell, Williams, & Zario, 2020). It is interesting to note that the5820 policy does not contain an authority of use (Foust, 2019). In addition, since it is anintuitive, not a law, the punishment for breaking the initiative is little more than the confiscationof equipment or a warning of misconduct. This could eventually be a problem if drones take amore active role on the Virginia Tech campus.The Virginia tech Fall 2020 Covid-19 Operational Plan was enacted last semester andover the summer, and discussed a plan to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic over the fall 2020semester. Included in this plan was the implementation of social distancing practices andmonitoring, as well as Covid safe personal protective equipment. The fall semester of 2020required new operations to, “optimize safety, education, and operations for the universitycommunity” (Virginia Tech, 2020). As this program would bring drones that can be used to aidofficers with monitoring and observing social distancing practices, this policy is directly relatedto the program. When discussed with Virginia Tech police officers, they noted that it wasn't theirprimary goal to press for masks, but moreover found that speaking to students one on one wasmore effective at addressing the issues. The officers also directly noted that “What policy statesis what’s enforced” (Tarter, Pasquarell, Williams, & Zario, 2020). This could be accomplishedeasier with an eye in the sky provided by drone monitoring. When the officers see a violation ofthese practices, they could send a drone out to tell the students to adhere to the regulations. Indiscussion with the Virginia Tech officers they stated that an important use of drones was tomonitor large crowds as well as maintain the safety of the Virginia Tech community.The next document that was directly correlated to campus police, as well as droneimplementation, was the 2019 Jeanne Clery Act Report . This document is the annual report thatdiscusses all the campus security as well as fire safety for all Virginia Tech campuses. TheVirginia Tech police department is tasked to maintain the safety of thousands of Virginia Techstudents, faculty, and staff 24 hours a day 7 days a week on 3 distinct and large campuses. In theplan, it states that “The university meets the global demands of the future, the Blacksburgcampus is constantly adapting to fulfill learning and research needs'' (Virginia PolytechnicInstitute and State University, 2020). Currently, the Virginia Tech police department has twotrained FAA 107 drone operators and 3 DJI drones. These drones are currently being used to“look at large crowds from at a distance, look into traffic crashes, and to look into big events oncampus such as protests.” the officers explained . (Tarter, Pasquarell, Williams, & Zario, 2020) The officers we talked to were enthusiastic about using more drones in the future. They alsomentioned that there will have to be a few different models of drone to meet specific needs. Forexample, we discussed a 3 inch drone with guarders to be used possibly in the dormitories andbuildings while a larger more robust drone would be used in outdoor areas.The last document related to establishing a drone program on the Virginia Tech campuswas the Virginia Tech Sustainability 2019-2020 Annual Report . Virginia Tech seeks to be a
leader in national sustainability and wants to enact a multitude of programs to reduceGreenhouse Gas Emissions (GGE), reduce transportation emissions, and to engage faculty andstaff in researching and enacting cleaner practices. Specifically, the very first point in the reportstates that “Virginia Tech will be a leader in campus sustainability” (Virginia Tech, 2019). Thisis correlated and significant to our project because with drones, comes the inherent use of cleanerand more sustainable energy management. Point three of the sustainability report addresses thereduction of Campus GHG Emissions. The report states: “Virginia Tech will establish a targetfor reduction of campus GHG emissions to 80% below 1990 emission level of 188,000 tons by2050. Interim targets from 2006 emissions of 316,000 tons will be: for 2012, 295,000 tons (onpath to 2025 target); for 2025, 255,000 tons (2000 emission level); and for 2050, 38,000 tons(80% below 1990 emission level)” (Virginia Tech, 2019). As an alternative to using the standardcars which have a high carbon footprint, we suggest that we implement drones to accomplish thesame tasks and possibly go beyond the tasks being completed currently. Point ten of the reportdeals with engaging students, faculty, and staff with sustainable practices. Noting: “VirginiaTech will engage students, faculty, and staff through education and involvement to develop andimplement innovative strategies for efficient and sustainable use of energy, water, and materialsin all university-owned facilities” (Virginia Tech, 2019). A major goal for our project is that wewant to incorporate a module to inform students’, faculty, and staff about the Virginia Techpolicies and regulations, in addition to the sustainable practices that drones can be used toaccomplish.Case Study AnalysisAn outline of successful implementations of drone technology for COVID-19 managementand/or increased public safety through local police departments is shown below:ChinaChina, as the first country to face the COVID-19 virus, has been able to make great useof drone technology to counter the outbreak. On top of this, China is home to MicroMultiCopter,a leading drone manufacturing company. Since the Coronavirus outbreak, MicroMultiCopter hasdeployed over 100 drones around several major cities in China. They have been able tosuccessfully survey and observe crowds and areas (Chamola et al. 2020, 15). These drones havebeen useful in preventing viral infection by alerting and alarming people if their distance is lessthan the required amount or if they are walking around in areas without a mask. Similar practicesare occurring in Spain and Kuwait (Kumar et al 2020, 2). Similar drones were also found to beused by Chinese authorities at highway checkpoints since February, when the COVID outbreakwas spreading domestically (Lu 2020, 11). Some of these drones were equipped with infraredtechnology and used in residential areas. These drones allowed for large-scale temperaturemeasurements (Chamola et al. 2020, 17).
IndiaMany states in India including Delhi, Kerala, and Assam are using drones to makeannouncements during their surveillance. In these states, the government has given policeofficials special permissions to use this technology to monitor, medicate, sanitize, analyze data,and pave the way for future decisions to be made. Maharashtra is one of the more progressivestates, as it is generating data reports on drone covered areas (Kumar et al 2020, 3). Cyient, aglobal technology solutions company, has provided police in Telangana with advancedunmanned aerial spectrum monitoring technology for monitoring the COVID-19 virus (Chamolaet al. 2020, 16). Each of the drones are equipped with a camera along with artificial intelligencethat can spot people between a 150m to 1km range. If the drone detects humans that are notadhering to the distance requirements set, it will alert the police forces (Lu 2020, 10). Thousandsof drones have been deployed all over India for these purposes, and data shows that there is avery high success rate of these drone systems and networks.SpainSpain is the first country in Europe to implement drone technology into pandemicmanagement practices. Recently, the Spanish military had adopted drone technology intoAgriculture management, using systems from DJI, a leading Chinese drone manufacturer. Thesedrones have been used to spray insecticides over public spaces. According to DJI, their droneshave a 16 liter load capacity, and are capable of disinfecting approximately one tenth of akilometer in one hour (Chamola et al 2020, 18). In Madrid, police authorities are using equippingtheir drones with a loudspeaker, to inform its community of the most recent guidelines that havebeen put in place due to the state of emergency (Chamola et al 2020, 16).AustraliaThe Australian Department of Defense is exploring the use of drone-based COVID-19health monitoring platforms (Kumar et al. 2020, 1). The State police in Western Australia plan touse drones to enforce social distancing in public areas like recreational parks, public transports,and beaches (Gupta et al 2020, 3). A drone adaption being used in Australia is the addition ofsensors in the drones body that can determine a person's temperature, respiratory rate, and pulse.This network of monitoring and medication has proven to be very effective (Kumar et al 2020,2).Some other important and interesting cases to note include a trial in North Dakota thatwas able to convict a man from evidence that had been obtained from a drone (Sexton 2016). InMesa County, the Sheriff's Office has been using drone technology for several years. They credittheir success to their Mesa County Safety Fair. At this annual fair, the UAV team showcases thetechnology and gives the members of the community an opportunity to see them, understandthem, and ask questions about them (Valdovinos et al 2020, 47).
While there are many success stories on utilizing drone technology in government andpolice forces, there are many times where an attempt at implementing a drone system failed. Inmany different states and federal agencies including locations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, andDelaware, there is a struggle to adopt drone practices as legislation prevents their use withoutfirst obtaining a warrant. The process of obtaining a warrant is so long and complex, manyagencies opt to avoid the integration all together (Sexton 2016).The U.S. Department of Homeland Security also tried to fund drone technology forincreased public safety. They funded the purchase of two unmanned aerial systems for theSeattle Police Department. Unfortunately, public outcry occurred almost immediately after thedrones were purchased. This overwhelming concern by citizens of lost privacy and worries ofbeing spied on led the mayor to completely disband and cancel the program. In this case, thedrones never even got to fly at all. After this massive failure, the drones were relocated and thedepartment began funding the San Jose Police Department in developing an implementationprogram. A similar outcry occured in San Jose following the reallocation of funds, this timecoming from newspaper articles and media outlets calling for the drones to be returned. Thepublic was again heard, and the drone plan was demolished (Valdovinos et al 2020, 17).In the United Kingdom, the Derbyshire police forces uploaded a video onto social mediashowing people exercising at Peak District as a public service announcement to wear masks andbe socially distant. This video was taken via drone footage, and the public criticized the policeforce for sharing the video on the media platforms (Lu 2020, 11).Evidence from these case studies presented shows that two major sources of failure withregards to a drone safety program are legal blockages and public opinion. This suggests that thefocus of a team working to implement drone technology onto Virginia Tech campus must paycareful attention to the concerns of the campus community and lay out and plan a legalframework to adopt drone technology use.Cost-Benefit AssessmentBased of off research done in the case studies section above, the following challenges to acampus drone implementation program have been determined as follows;1. Lack of Clear Government Policies2. Low drone operational reliability and technological restraints3. Community understanding and approvalA cost-benefit analysis for a program like the one we propose is difficult to analyze asevery individual has their own personal views on privacy and safety and the balance between thetwo. Chris Sexton, professor of law and public policy at Rutgers University sums this upperfectly, commenting in his article on Drone Use by Law Enforcement that “the interestingthing about the equilibrium between privacy and security is that both interests are quite difficultto put a value on.” (Sexton 2016) This is where getting feedback from the impacted communitybecomes essential. Careful integration of drone technology, including a slow assimilation of the
drone into the community and transparency through every step of the process, will increasecommunity support for drone technology. It is important to express to individuals that the droneis not meant to work on a specific individual. The drone will not pinpoint a person and hoverover them, track them, or analyze their data through identifying who they are. The system wouldwork on a much more broad basis that allows for anonymization (White 2020, 31). Adrone-based localization system, or one that would determine distances between multiple people,would circulate an area of interest and calculate position. Th
This report is an initial program proposal for drone technology use for university public safety. Three different areas of focus are addressed in this report by the research team. The three focuses will include an extensive case s