The deployment of RPAS units to provide situational awareness and support in disaster-related missions can have many tangible benefits. As a step towards this direction, LEAPFROG envisions to become the first buffering capacity activity to:
- coordinate the development of standard operating procedures for deployment of RPAS units across Europe during and in the aftermath of disasters, addressing regulatory, technical and organisational aspects
- establish a common training structure for competency and capacity building of RPAS operators and pilots
- conduct relevant exercises to build skills and confidence in operating under different scenarios
- introduce RPAS modules to the voluntary pool
The main objective of LEAPFROG is the development and implementation of an RPAS module that abides to international standards and can operate efficiently and safely. In addition to this general objective there are also specific objectives that this project aims to achieve. Firstly, for the development of the standard operating procedures, all the preparatory work will be done and relevant background knowledge on RPAS will be collected. The objective is to consider the relevant issues of RPAS deployment in all levels and across the different authorities that are involved in the project. These procedures will help authorities identify common needs, exchange of ideas, and coordinate their developments. The developed training scenarios and exercises will enhance the technical expertise of the partners on this technology and build knowledge in the use of RPAS for various applications including monitoring of hazards, and search and rescue. Lastly, the pilot scenarios and evaluation will assist authorities to familiarize themselves with RPAS technology and enable the exchange of good practices. Importantly, all developed methodologies will be made available to other stakeholders that will seek to follow these procedures so as the potential of RPAS can be exploited in many disaster scenarios. In addition, the project aims to set the groundwork for upgrading the RPAS module, usage criteria, and mission types with the development of new capabilities and technologies.
In summary the main set of actions that will be carried out during the project are the following:
- Development of standard operating procedure: This task involves all activities associated with the preparation for the introduction of the RPAS module for use by the EERC. Specifically, this task aims to leverage the expertise of the partners both in CP operations and RPAS technologies to instantiate an RPAS module capable of operating across Europe in various disaster scenarios, produce methodologies to improve its interoperability with other CP modules, standardize procedures, and finally develop automation solutions for assisting operators and enhancing situational awareness.
- RPAS training and exercises: This task will implement exercises and a dedicated training program (including material) that can be used to form new RPAS modules. Doing so will put the developed methodological procedures into practice and demonstrate their applicability. Specialized training exercises will be developed focusing both on improving the RPAS module as a standalone unit but also its interoperability with other units in the field in order for the RPAS units to operate under the supervision of another module when need arises. Through the activities the goal is to also setup a certification program for aircraft pilots specifically for disaster management that will ensure operators have the knowledge and skills to efficiently and effectively operate RPAS units across Europe in a safe and secure manner.
- RPAS Module introduction into the voluntary pool: This task will implement different pilot scenarios that will be used so that the end-users can put the RPAS module into practice and assess, in the field, its applicability to the tasks that it is assigned. Also, these pilot scenarios will provide an opportunity for the end-user partners to provide feedback and suggestions for improvement. Finally, to ensure the operational continuity of the RPAS module in the long-term a maintenance and upgrade procedure will also be developed so that the end-users understand the scope, timeline, and commitment needed, both in personnel and budget, to maintain and utilize this module to its maximum capacity when needed.