Mumbai-based ideaForge is deploying drones to monitor social distancing during coronavirus lockdown
Maintaining social distancing and avoiding crowded places have become the new norm to curb the spread of coronavirus. While India is maintaining a complete lockdown to avoid COVID-19 spread,, a company engaged in the development of unmanned aerial systems, is helping police monitor social distancing and security surveillance using its drones.
Founded in 2007 by Ankit Mehta, Rahul Singh, Vipul Joshi, and Ashish Bhat, ideaForge manufactures drones for defence, homeland security, and industrial applications.
In the current situation, Mumbai-headquartered ideaForge has been helping police forces in Sangli, Maharashtra, and Guwahati, Assam, deploy its drones for surveillance.
According to the company, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation or Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, and Sangli police forces have currently deployed ideaForge Q series drones for monitoring purposes.
“Our drones are force multipliers as they enable authorities to cover a larger area with the same manpower. We are committed to saving lives and are glad that our drones are empowering authorities to drive the message of social distancing. We appeal to the citizens to stay at home as it is the only measure that will enable us to triumph over the Covid-19 pandemic,” ideaForge CEO Ankit Mehta said in a press statement.
Using drone technology to fight COVID-19
“With the help of drones, three major categories can be given immediate attention - security and surveillance, crowd monitoring, and drone delivery and spraying of disinfectants,” said Capt (Retd) Stephen Anand, General Manager, ideaForge, in a webinar.
According to the company, the ideaForge drones, which have been deployed for surveillance, provide real-time intelligence to the command and control centre, local patrol vans, and ground forces. If they observe anything out of line, the ground forces are immediately alerted and dispatched to the incident sites, and citizens are urged to follow lockdown orders and maintain social distancing.
The use of drones has been beneficial in reducing the response time, and is not only helping in maintaining social distancing and lockdown protocols, but is also helping to prevent theft and unlawful activities.
“Some of the critical operational capabilities include features such as optical zoom, which provides a detailed perspective of the area while allowing to zoom into individual suspects. The dynamic moving target indicator feature assists in chasing and follows a suspicious vehicle and get the real time location with precision. The thermal imaging cameras enable night patrolling parties with significant reconnaissance capabilities to navigate through high activity zones. There is also the target tracking feature, which is an enhanced tool of surveillance, assists the user to track intelligence static or moving objects, and provides valuable intelligence to the law enforcement authorities,” Stephen said.
He also explained that deploying drones for monitoring social distancing and security will also help the police forces keep a tab on places which are not easily accessible. The drones, which are integrated with megaphones, will also allow the police forces to spread awareness in such areas about the pandemic situation
“Using drones in the broader understanding of security and surveillance during COVID-19 can also be integrated with megaphones. With the integration of megaphones and drones, the police can freely access all information in the inaccessible terrains and corners, and reach out to people in a repetitive manner without much coordination and involvement of manpower resources.”
Stephen explains that the mapping feature of the drones is also an important feature for the administrative and law enforcement officials as it enables users to map the COVID-19 hot zones or clusters, and plan accordingly for stricter implementation of lockdown measures.
According to ideaForge, deploying drones for monitoring the crowd has helped deal with the COVID-19 situation in a big way.
"To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, our drones have been deployed as force multipliers by police forces as they enable deep and wide surveillance of a larger area with the same manpower. Authorities can conduct surveillance operations from a safe distance, thus reducing the risk of infection among their own manpower. We are committed to saving lives and are glad that our drones are empowering authorities to drive the message of social distancing,” Ankit tells YourStory.
Stephen says, the drones can share live video feed to the Command and Control Centre, which can be then integrated with an advanced video analytics tool or software. This will help the surveillance teams to carry out headcount or people density identification.
The drones will also notify officials if it notices people gathering on their rooftops, which can lead to the spread of COVID-19 virus.
While ideaForge is deploying its drones for crowd and security surveillance amid the lockdown, Stephen also explains that using drones to supply essentials such as vital medical kits, emergency or first aid kits, or food packages will be advantageous.
Citing examples of other countries, Stephen explains that deploying drones for delivery and spraying disinfectants will help India fight this battle immensely.
Currently, the company has deployed its drones in 10 Indian states including Maharashtra and Assam, and also in Delhi for surveillance and crowd monitoring purposes.
According to ideaForge, the company is also in talks with other states for deploying drones, but refused to disclose the details.