BERGEN/NORWAY: IRIS Group in planning to build and operate an Unmanned Air Services emergency response centre to support such entities as the Police, Fire Brigade, Municipalities, Civil Defence and Rescue services. “Due to our rugged topography, great expanses of wilderness and relatively few people – we will be able to increase the efficiency in all kinds of rescue operations by utilising UAS” MD Jahn Petter Berentsen says. ‘We are one of the few countries which has a volunteer rescue service and so it is important that we find new and effective ways to locate (lost) people”.

Anne-Margrete Bollmann, Development Manager of the Norwegian civil defence, is working to create future civil defence strategies and solutions. She is familiar with the use of drones and have already tested out the possibilities of using this new technology. “We of course see the usefulness of UAVs and have tested a number of drones in different situations and weather. We see both the benefits, but also the limitations”, says Bollmann. She says to use drones requires good cooperation between emergency responders, drone pilots and management and in addition it is important to have adequate knowledge and expertise of Aviation Authority regulations, the technology and skills required.

As IRIS Group are manned by former senior military and commercial leadership and management personnel, they are well prepared for planning and executing multi-faceted solutions to meet complex client challenges.  The team has over 4,000 (manned) and 5,000 (unmanned) flying hours and more than 50 collective work experience years specifically within the robotics industries.

Police chief Per Algrøy from the Sotra and Øygarden Police Station has not heard of this type of technology before, but is positive about its potential use in the context of search operations. “I really see the opportunity to use drones and we have spent a lot of time using thermal imaging cameras before in search operations, but never from drones”, Algrøy says.

The Norwegian Red Cross is also responding positively to the concept of a UAS emergency response centre. Eilev Nysveen is the operational leader of the Hordaland County Red Cross, responsible for searches both over land and water, and participates in about one hundred actions a year. They have over 850 approved Rescue force members and she is very positive about the new technology. “When it turns out that the technology is good enough to give us the quality we want and is able to cover large areas, it is clear that we are interested in using drones”, Eilev Nysveen states.