Thursday: Meeting for Mountain View residents to discuss city's drone use

Police, fire and public works departments look to use drones for everything from inspections to pursuing suspects

Mountain View city officials are considering deploying unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, for use by its police, fire and public works departments.

This Thursday, Aug. 15, residents will be able to weigh in at a public discussion on drone use from 7-9 p.m. at 1000 Villa St.

Following an informational briefing, attendees will be able to offer feedback or ask questions. A live stream of the event will be posted for community members to view the event and ask questions in real time.

At the April 9 city council meeting, police Lt. Saul Jaeger spoke about the ability of drones and available technologies — high-zoom and infrared cameras, environmental sensors, and live streaming and sharing of video — to enhance operations and improve work safety.

“It’s used for increased situational awareness and better decision-making overall,” Jaeger said.

The public works department has proposed to use drones for roof, gutter and canopy inspections, environmental assessments and project management. The fire department has also categorized drones as a valuable asset in monitoring active fires, managing mass casualty and hazardous materials incidents, and aiding in life-saving efforts before and after a natural disaster.

For the police department, aerial drone views and thermal imaging could be used in a disaster response and recovery, an active pursuit of a suspect or a missing persons search. The technology would also provide officers with an improved ability to document crime scenes, collisions and respond to dangerous scenes.

Many local police departments, including Sunnyvale, San Jose and Santa Clara have also expressed interest in a drone program. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, an early adopter of unmanned aerial vehicles, reportedly has deployed DJI Phantom drones on over 30 missions.

Jaeger said city officials intend to incorporate ACLU recommended safeguards into they city’s drone policy to protect citizens’ right to privacy.

Among other considerations, Mountain View would prohibit placing weapons on an unmanned aerial vehicle, conducting random or proactive surveillance activities or using drones for anything other than official city business, according to the staff report presented to city council. The city would also establish guidelines for data collection and retention.

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3 people like this
Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Aug 13, 2019 at 6:21 pm

No drones everywhere you go in Mountain View there are cars swarming around and getting worse!
Now we are going to have drones swarming overhead, terrible
Let’s have no drones in Mountain View

2 people like this
Posted by Whose drones?
a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 13, 2019 at 6:47 pm

Government has some legitimate uses for drones. But whose government? How about Russia, North Korea and China? What would you do. Pass a law against it!

And what about extortionists who can threaten to attack with drones (allegedly) armed with anthrax? Get your credit card ready to make blackmail payments.

With drones comes the need for anti-drone technology and devices.

Previously nukes - now drones. Technology marches on. Not long before it replaces humans entirely. Be thankful you lived this long.

Like this comment
Posted by P
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 13, 2019 at 7:34 pm

The county has an ordinance regulating the use of surveillance technology. The technology can be used when appropriate but there's oversight and public input on what "appropriate" means. Mountain View needs to do the same. This isn't just about drones.

1 person likes this
Posted by JP
a resident of Rex Manor
on Aug 13, 2019 at 7:44 pm

Where will the live stream be? All I see is a Facebook link. Please don't tell me that we're going to have a privacy discussion using Facebook.

3 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Aug 14, 2019 at 7:45 am

Gary is a registered user.

Interesting that the meeting is scheduled for the police department instead of City Hall. Who decides on the use of drones and other surveillance technology? Locally shouldn't that be the elected City Council? The City of Palo Alto enacted a surveillance ordinance last year. I like surveillance in public places to deter, monitor and investigate crimes including mass shootings. But there are other concerns to be considered. And it is true that local ordinances and even federal laws, will not be obeyed by foreign regimes or criminals. So we are moving into a dangerous time.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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