Unmanned Aerial Systems (Drone) Program
The mission of the Town of Summerville's Unmanned Aerial Systems (Drone) Program is to offer aerial services in a manner that is safe, responsible, and transparent. We aim to enhance the safety and well-being of the citizens of Summerville through the strategic and ethical use of drone technology.
The Town of Summerville's Unmanned Aerial Systems Program is a multi-departmental initiative that employs drone technology to optimize various facets of municipal services and public safety. The program involves trained operators from the Police, Fire, GIS, Public Information, and Planning Departments, among others. While the Police Department uses drones for search and rescue missions and suspect apprehension, the Fire Department utilizes them for fire monitoring and emergency response planning. GIS and Planning Departments use drone-acquired data for terrain mapping, infrastructure planning, and land-use studies. The Public Information Office leverages the technology for real-time information dissemination during public events or emergencies. Compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations and a strong commitment to privacy rights are foundational to the program. A robust system of accountability and transparency, including detailed flight logs and monthly public reporting, ensures responsible use across all participating departments.
Meet the Program Team
- Program Manager and Lead Pilot: Chris Makowski, Public Information Officer
- Summerville Police Department Pilots: Ian Anderson and Robert Googe
- GIS Pilot: Bryce Motes, GIS Coordinator
- Pilots in-training:
- Becca Zimmerman, Planner ll
- Chris Moe, Plan Reviewer/Building Inspector
- Josh Battisa, Summerville Police Department
- Remy Clark, Planner l
- Brandon Yeager, Recreation Coordinator
The Town's Current Unmanned Aerial Systems Fleet
- Summerville Drone Program - Community Feedback Form
- Unmanned Aerial Systems Program Policy
- Powerpoint Presentation To Council (Standing Committees May 8, 2023, 5:30 p.m.)
- FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Drone) FAQs
- Part 107 FAA Summary Sheet
- FAA Drone Website
- Know Before You Fly: An education campaign to educate prospective users about the safe and responsible operation of drones and/or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
- Learn more about the new Remote ID Rule
- What is a drone or UAS?
UAS stands for Unmanned Aerial System, which is more commonly known as a drone. Essentially, a drone is an aerial device equipped with an onboard computer that can be operated remotely by a pilot on the ground using a handheld controller. Small drones weigh less than 55 pounds, are battery-operated, have several rotors like a helicopter, and are equipped with a video camera.
- How is my privacy protected?
The Town of Summerville's Drone Program follows 14 CFR Part 107 which strictly prohibits Drone operators from intentionally recording or transmitting images of any location where a person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as private backyards or inside private buildings, except where authorized by a warrant issued by a judge or in emergency situations. Reasonable precautions can include, for example, deactivating or turning imaging devices away from such areas or persons during Drone operations.
- What training do Drone pilots undergo?
In addition to the training and study required to maintain an FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot License, all Town of Summerville Drone Pilots must complete 1.5 hours of supervised flight time with an established FAA Certified Pilot before their first mission. Additionally, pilots will train regularly in a variety of locations and settings to ensure operational efficiency. All training is documented, and the records are maintained by the Town of Summerville and are subject to review by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
- Are previous flights available to view?
Yes. For the sake of transparency, a list of all Drone missions will be made publicly available on the Town of Summerville's website.
- How Can Government Agencies Operate A Drone?
Government agencies (including Federal, State, and tribal), law enforcement, and public safety entities have two options for operating drones under 55 pounds.