The Department of the Environment, Heritage & and Climate Change has acquired an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, better known as a drone, to further its Environmental research and monitoring. Such devices are enabling new ways of working, increasing efficiency, reducing costs and minimising impacts within established and emerging sectors.
The significant global growth in the robotics and autonomous systems market, over the past five years has established drones and their applications at the forefront of technological developments. They are particularly suited to environmental work. These developments are seen by the Government and the Minister for the Environment, Heritage & and Climate Change, Dr. John Cortes as presenting a key opportunity to be utilised.
Outside of the environmental applicability, drones represent a tremendous opportunity for the Department of the Environment to support and collaborate with a wider cross section of Government departments, augmenting data capture, data availability and data interpretation. Offering the potential of a powerful new perspective across a variety of requirements, delivering both productivity benefits and increased value from the data that are collected.
In line with the wider Geospatial Strategy, the initial applications of this technology will centre on terrestrial and marine mammal monitoring, renewing and updating the aerial imagery of Gibraltar with new Orthophoto (geospatially corrected aerial images), generating 3D Building Models, Contour Maps and Solar panel inspections. The technology will also be a tool for enhanced environmental law enforcement.
Because drones have a potential negative impact on nesting birds, the Department’s drone will be operated by a scientific officer, who has been specifically trained and qualified in the United Kingdom, and who, together with an additional spotter, is well versed in potential conflicts which will therefore be avoided.
Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, Dr John Cortes commented, ‘Having this technology available will allow us to monitor and record our heritage better, especially our natural heritage, and to keep a closer eye in particular over marine life, such as whales and dolphins and the factors affecting their conservation. It is a huge step forward in how we look after our natural environment, both on the land and in the protected seas which make up British Gibraltar Territorial Waters.
Data from these efforts will continue to be developed into further geospatial products that will be provided via the HM Government of Gibraltar geoportal which can be accessed at www.geoportal.gov.gi.’