Palm Coast – City of Palm Coast Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Lead, Laura Castelnovo, attended a statewide Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Public Safety Symposium and Exercise at Florida State University from June 2-4, 2021.

The symposium and exercise provided information and training on hurricane preparedness and response using drones. This includes how to apply for waivers; understanding Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and State of Florida coordination with local emergency operation centers; how to use drones for search and rescue; livestream capability from the drone to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) during damage assessment; and types of software for flight plans and data processing.

This is significant to Palm Coast as it will better help the City prepare for hurricane or emergency response by practicing flight plans over City infrastructure so that in the event of an emergency, a plan is in place for staff to follow, reducing response time. 

The training spanned three days, with the first day focusing on educational presentations and outdoor demonstrations. Experts shared lessons with attendees on what they have learned in previous operations. The following two days offered students hands-on drone exercises in the field with various assigned missions for training.

The City of Palm Coast has FAA certified drone operators who have passed the State of Florida’s FAA Aeronautical Knowledge test and received a Remote Pilot Certificate. City of Palm Coast drone operators only fly drones in public areas. Drones operated by City staff will only fly over private property if a waiver is obtained from the owner of that property in advance.

Hurricane season officially began on June 1 and now is the time to prepare yourself, your family and your home in the event of a storm. You can learn more by viewing the disaster preparedness guide by clicking here or you can pick a copy up at Palm Coast City Hall or the Flagler County Library.

PHOTO: Students gathered at Apalachee Regional Park for demonstrations on Wednesday, June 2.