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Kalispell reviewing use of drones, other technology

by BRET ANNE SERBIN
Daily Inter Lake | August 9, 2021 12:00 AM

Kalispell city staff will break down some of the city's most advanced technology at a work session Monday evening with the City Council.

Jason Singleton is a specialist who works on numerous high-tech initiatives in several city departments. On Monday, he will give a presentation to the council about the city's use of drones and geographic information systems, or GIS mapping.

Various city departments use GIS to create, manage, analyze and map data. According to council meeting documents, benefits of the technology include streamlining workflow and increasing public access to data.

Last month, Kalispell added a GIS "hub" to the city's website to provide public access to all the city's GIS features in one place, including crime statistics, snow plow routes and building permits.

On Monday, city specialists will discuss GIS uses for internal staff operations and the public, as well as ways the technology might be utilized in the police, planning, public works, and parks and recreation departments.

GIS specialist Angie Thomas will go over topics like utilizing GIS data for utilities and other asset management programs; gaining access to real-time infrastructure data and record drawings; and providing public access to mapping resources.

The City Council also will learn how the city uses remote-controlled drones.

Kalispell set up its drone program in 2017. The city uses drones to collect mapping imagery, perform volume calculations, carry out 3D modeling and record video of city projects, such as the ongoing construction of the Parkline Trail.

The city periodically uploads videos that provide visual updates of the trail's progress.

The Federal Aviation Administration regulates when and where drones can be flown, as well as training and certification requirements. There are specific guidelines that pertain to flying drones above people and motor vehicles, all which Singleton will outline on Monday.

The work session will start at 7 p.m. at Kalispell City Hall, 201 First Avenue East.

Reporter Bret Anne Serbin may be reached at 406-758-4459 or bserbin@dailyinterlake.com.