Spy-in-the-sky drones set to be used to keep up with fast-growing Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes is growing so fast that the council is set to confirm the use drones to keep up with it.

Monday, 20th January 2020, 2:05 pm

A so-called “pilot” project using a drone has already mapped MK’s crematorium and new development as Fairfields and Whitehouse.

Council officers dealing with planning, landscaping, street naming and numbering, and emergency planning, have already given the thumbs up, a background report says.

“There is always a risk of complaint from the public about privacy and safety,” says a report in advance of a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday).

Milton Keynes Council

“In the eventuality of this happening, we are confident in our ability to evidence the safe flying of the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle). All flights will be subject to a rigorous risk assessment prior to approval,”

The council intends to “avoid the collection of personal data by avoiding public areas” but says as it may be captured they need to comply with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

The report, sponsored by Sarah Gonsalves, the council’s director of policy, insight and communications, says 29,000 new homes are planned in the city up to 2031.

“With rapid growth taking place, it is inevitable that base mapping fails to keep pace with development on the ground.”

A police drone

They say using a manned aircraft for aerial photography in 2016 cost £8,000.

A delegated decision due to be made by Cllr Rob Middleton (Lab, Wolverton), the council’s elected head of resources and innovation, also includes the use of drones at isolated emergency incidents and when the council requires creative material for specific projects.

The report adds: “It is the intention to build a portfolio of images to plug the gap in our current aerial records and gather geospatial data in order to provide much needed intelligence for how development areas are emerging.

“Information gathered will help to inform service delivery, especially in growth areas on the east and west flanks of the city and emerging south east.”

There are apparently no financial implications as the set up costs have been met, although insurance and licensing will have to be covered each year.