Drones as an Information Tool

University of South Florida (USF) School of Information Professor Kim Lersch has long been fascinated with locational aspect of social events, looking for answers to the questions of where and why. For the past two decades, her research has examined the locations of incidents of domestic violence, carjackings, suicides, and mentalhealth related calls for service to the police.

Kim Lersch with drone

Kim Lersch

Why do these events occur where they do? And if clusters of crimes or mental health issues are found, are there community resources nearby to help?

Building on her interest in the science of spatial data, Dr. Lersch has recently incorporated a new tool: small unmanned aerial systems(sUAS), or what we commonly call drones. Drones are quickly becoming much more than just a toy. A trained operator can use a drone to collect images that can be analyzed in 2Dor 3D. The application of this technology is virtually limitless, from intelligence analysis; search and rescue operations; surveillance and crowd control; critical incident management; and Homeland Security.

This Fall, the School of Information will offer a special topics course titled "Drones for Information Professionals" that will be taught by Professor Lersch.

As part of the course requirements, students will earn their certification through the Federal Aviation Association as a sUAS pilot. Additional topics include legal and ethical issues, safety, navigating the federal airspace, payload, the impact of weatheron flight, and other critical topics. The course will close with a section on imagery analysis, where students will learn the basics of imagery analysis using software such as Esri’s Drone2Map and Drone Deploy.

At the end of the course, students will not only have a line to add to their resumes, but a strong grasp of cutting-edge technology. The School of Information hopes to make this course a regular offeringfor the newly revised Bachelor of Science in Information Science program. For more information, please contact Kim Lersch.

Published on: 6/19/2020