If ever there was a need for drones to provide quick aerial information to firefighters, police and paramedics over a large area in SA, then the recent raging bushfires across swathes of the Garden Route fitted that bill. There is drone footage of the devastation running up the coast from Sedgefield to Plettenberg Bay. It shows burnt-out houses in Knysna and blackened surrounds stretching for 100km. But how much quicker could emergency services react if they were guided by drones able to pinpoint the hotspots and places where people were in danger? The disaster that engulfed this broad geographical area could have been made more manageable by the accurate pictures aerial surveillance can give. The reality in SA is that, for now, the use of drones for civil and commercial activities is limited. That means the drone footage of the blazes sweeping over the coastal bush and forest was more likely a result of chance than any organised activity on the part of local, regional or national g...

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