"We have a responsibility to protect the public, both people on the ground and other aircraft," Dorr said.
The drone that interests the Miami-Dade police is called the MAV - Micro-Air Vehicle - and it is made by Honeywell International. The radio-controlled unit weighs 14 pounds without fuel aboard and operates in the air like a helicopter.
"It can hover and go straight down or up, for example," police spokesman Villalba said.
According to Honeywell, the MAV can operate at a maximum of 10,500 feet and at a top speed of 50 knots per hour. It can be carried in a large backpack and be deployed in five minutes.
In September, a Honeywell official estimated that the MAV - including the aircraft and its ground control system - would cost about $250,000."
Terrific. So camera's on Red Lights aren't enough (besides for making money). Camera's on street corners aren't enough. Camera's in apartments are useless. So what else? Camera's in the air, of course!
So simple, I could have thought of it myself.
I've been tolerant of these things so far, figuring that as long as it's on public property, then it may be beneficial. But flying cameras? That's ridiculous. We use these things to fight terrorists, and to inefficiently watch the border criminals cross back and forth.
One side of my mine rationalizes this as analogous to a Helicopter used in high speed car chases and manhunts.
I think economics is certainly a factor it this, as it always is. The incentive for a police force to use a helicopter in those situations is obvious. Few, if any criminals are going to outrun a skillfully piloted helicopter, and the view from the top can be helpful in directing officers on the ground, and training/reviews later on.
But it's expensive to own and operate a rotary wing aircraft. In fact, the Kansas City PD spent $1,004,256 in 2006 on running a helicopter unit. So while it may be fun to police traffic with a helicopter, the incentive is no where near large enough to outweigh the vast cost and dedication of resources that would take. As such, we have never had to deal with active monitoring from the air by Police Departments. (Satellites excluded, but that's a different set of circumstances)
Not so with a drone. Requiring only 1 or 2 people to operate, and with a far lower cost, both on purchasing, training, fuel, and maintenance, it is now financially and technically feasible for active monitoring from the sky to take place on a regular basis.
Sure, right now it's only for Swat Operations.
2 years from now?
As the incentive to actively monitor from the sky grows in comparison with the cost, more and more departments will begin using aerial cameras to monitor us mortals, who deign to carry out lives while wishing for privacy.
Big Brother, eat your stale, crusty heart out.
"'Oranges and lemons,' say the bells of St. Clement's,
'You owe me three farthings,' say the bells of St. Martin's..