Between the 6th and the 9th of March 2018, the KIOS Research and Innovation Center of Excellence (CoE) of the University of Cyprus in collaboration with the Cyprus Civil Defence Force conducted a first-of-its-kind training on the use of drones for emergency management purposes. The training was supported by the European Union’s Civil Protection Mechanism through its training programme and specifically the “Exchange of Experts” module, which funded the participation of 17 experts from across 11 EU countries. The participants also included representatives of first response authorities from Cyprus. Emergency responders will use the acquired knowledge to support mission-critical activities, to improve situation awareness, as well as to speed up current procedures, thus increasing the success rate of missions and minimizing risks including injuries or loss of lives.
The four-day training agenda included presentations that covered key aspects of drone operations, such as the fundamental principles of unmanned aerial vehicles, state-of-the-art tools for operating drones, planning aspects for emergency-related missions and data capturing, as well as processing and management issues. The participants were also engaged in practical activities in the field of conducting drone operations on manual and automated modes, and familiarized themselves with the specialized software developed by the KIOS CoE for real-time search and detection of objects on the ground.
Moreover, the networking achieved amongst the experts was of equal importance. It gave the opportunity to share valuable knowledge regarding the use of drones in different emergency scenarios in participants’ home countries and understand the regulatory and authorization procedures of operation in other Member States. The participants’ feedback at the end of the course indicated the success of the training’s objective, which was to improve the first response authorities’ capacity, at the national and European level.
The training is the outcome of the expertise developed in Cyprus and made possible by the EU-funded project PREDICATE. The cooperation between civil authorities and research organizations in this project is an excellent example of how actions like this one can result in improved products and services. The Center instigates interdisciplinary interaction and promotes collaboration between industry, academia and research organizations in high-tech areas of global importance. A significant number of CIS operators and regulators, related commercial and governmental organizations, and innovative Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have already joined the KIOS Innovation Hub through its Industrial Membership Program.