• Indraja Gugle

How Drones Are Helping Pune Police To Combat COVID-19

Updated: Jun 26




Crises make us humble and help us grow in ways that we never imagined. They catalyse progress and development in science and technology that helps diminish adverse effects on future generations, if not eradicating the problem altogether. An unprecedented event with massive consequences, COVID-19 has infected more than five million people globally and has caused more than 328,000 deaths. The primary concern across the world right now is the flattening of the curve. However, it has also put frontline warriors such as doctors, medical staff and local police at high risk. Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Location Technology and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are playing an important role in minimising this risk.



Governments across the world have been undertaking measures to decrease people-to-people contact. This includes the temporary closure of non-essential businesses & public spaces, ban of mass gatherings and social distancing. However, the latter does not seem to be followed strictly in certain areas, knowingly or unknowingly, thus posing a risk to the society. This makes the task of law enforcing bodies such as municipal corporations and local police more challenging. The use of drones enables them to monitor people’s movements over large swathes of areas and to break up social gatherings that could endanger the safety of communities, while minimizing the risk of them being exposed to the virus.


In Pune, Volar Alta has collaborated with the police on Mission Rakshak for the aerial monitoring of the city to ensure the safety of its inhabitants as well as that of its frontline heroes. India has been under lockdown since 25thMarch 2020, with Pune having crossed 4,500 cases, making it one of the worst-hit cities in the country. Over 26 police officers have tested positive for COVID-19, out of which 14 have died. These numbers are bound to increase if police officers continue being deputed in high-risk areas. Additionally, due to a shortage in personnel, Maharashtra Police has already summoned RAF forces and members of CID and ACB. However, this shortage may worsen with time if more police officers need to be given medical leave due to COVID-19 symptoms.

Since 18thMay 2020, Volar Alta’s drones have been helping Pune Police monitor a combined area of more than 150 square kilometres, greater than Paris or San Francisco. The project covers areas falling under the jurisdiction of 15 police stations, including the five high-risk zones of Swargate, Bund Garden, Dattawadi, Yerwada and Kondhwa. This has helped the police to remotely achieve crowd control of over 700,000 people without exposing themselves to the risk of getting infected by corona virus.


Along with the co-operation of Pune Police, the team successfully smoothened out the logistical challenges within a couple of days to optimize processes and improve the quality and quantity of actionable data that our drones are able to capture. Senior Police Inspector, Chandrakant Bhosale, says, “With the rise in the number of cases in containment areas like Modikhana and Bhimpura, Volar Alta’s drones have been able to alert the police immediately on social gatherings in these areas. Thanks to this, we have been able to promptly deploy forces to disperse the crowd and to create awareness about social distancing.”

After the successful completion of the first leg of the project on 24th May 2020, Volar Alta will be increasing surveillance coverage from 5 to 10 zones in the next leg of the project. Following that, our services will be available to police departments in other cities across Maharashtra as well. Some of the non-surveillance drone services that we would be exploring in the near future are multispectral analysis, thermal sensing and sanitizer spraying.

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