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Local

Batavia wants to operate aerial drone for sky view

BATAVIA – The city of Batavia soon will likely have its own eye in the sky.

Included in the city’s proposed 2018 budget is $5,000 for the purchase of an aerial drone to be used by the fire, police and public works departments.

The drone will be based at one of the city’s fire stations, so that it is available at all times to monitor emergencies, City Administrator Laura Newman told aldermen at a recent committee meeting.

The drone would offer 360-degree views of natural disasters, traffic accidents, airplane crashes, hazardous material spills, fires or ongoing incidents, Newman said.

The remotely operated aircraft also would be used for more mundane tasks, Newman said, such as inspecting city water towers, electric lines and other facilities.

By using a drone, the city could reduce the need for street, water and electric department workers to climb ladders or use bucket trucks that lift people, Newman said.

The operators of the drone must be trained, certified and personally licensed to control the aircraft, Batavia Information Systems Director Howard Chason said.

The drone and its operation will have to meet Federal Aviation Administration requirements, Chason said, noting that Batavia’s airspace falls under the jurisdiction of DuPage Airport.

The drone would be equipped with an infrared camera, valuable for use at night in a search for missing persons or other situations with reduced visibility.

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