Alberta government plan to use drones to monitor campers on Crown lands abruptly cancelled

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Days after the Alberta government posted a proposal to use drones to spy on campers on Crown lands this summer, its plan has been grounded.

A request for business proposals was first issued by Alberta Environment and Parks Friday to have a contracted drone operator on standby, primarily during holidays and weekends, to help detect campfires, off-highway vehicles in restricted areas, and gatherings of 10 or more individuals.

On Tuesday, the opportunity to submit proposals through the government’s procurement website was cancelled.

The plan was to use remotely piloted aircraft systems to do surveillance of large and remote areas throughout the summer, “as well as specific areas of concern where groups of people have been known to congregate on public lands,” the public document notes.

The detailed proposal sought drone operators to take photographs, including using infrared or thermal imaging, to detect people, buildings, potential environmental issues like fuel spills, and to provide live video feeds to department incident commanders or operations officers.

“Operators must have the ability to detect individuals, vehicles and infrastructure such as cabins or fishing huts in remote locations and provide real-time imagery and geographic positional data to an Incident Commander or Operations Officer,” the document says.

Drone intelligence and surveillance would have also helped the department evacuate people from remote terrain in provincial parks and public lands during emergencies such as fires or floods, and keep an eye on areas in danger of flooding.

More to come…

lijohnson@postmedia.com

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