Theme: Extensive Internal Collaboration
Manatee County, Florida government is making strides with new technology and sustainability efforts. The Energy and Sustainability division, which is a young division, focuses on reducing energy consumption and being more efficient.
Our innovation is about the lengthy process to implement the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), better known as drones, within the County. During an inspection by a hired firm to evaluate leakage of air from windows and doorways, a drone with a thermal imagery camera was used for the nine-story Judicial Center. During this same timeframe, the County’s videographer photographer was using her personal drone as a hobbyist to capture the beautiful beaches and parks in the area to enhance publicity on our social media site. The County also utilizes Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in creative ways and with the release of ESRI’s Drone2Map at the 2015 User Conference, the Energy Manager and the Director of Property Management were convinced this technology would benefit Manatee County. That is when the fun began.
From submitting a request for Legal services to explore the idea of implementing a UAS program and through the grueling request for proposal process to select firms that offer UAS-drone services and support, many months had already passed. The next step was submitting a decision unit which is the County’s two-year budget process asking for funding for a UAS program. This funding would include the purchase of drones and components, training, and the review of a policy and standard operating procedure.
We are now two years later and Manatee County is within weeks of having a policy, insurance, and thirty certified drone pilots. Drones will be used for damage assessments after storms and assist in life saving at our beaches in addition to inspections and the showcasing our gorgeous County.