Coachella testing drones for security, traffic monitoring

After last October's gunman attack that killed 58 people at a Las Vegas music festival, organizers of the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival are making their number one priority public safety. Part of the detailed plans that will be in place for the festival, which runs April 13-15 and April 20 - 22 in Indio, California, include the use of drones for security and traffic monitoring.

 A police drone in Chino, California.  Image via the Chino Champion.

A police drone in Chino, California. Image via the Chino Champion.

Indio police public information officer Sgt. Dan Marshall said that the use of the drones is an experiment. Goldenvoice, one of the organizers of Coachella, has contracted with a licensed and certified drone service that will work with the Indio police as needed.

Marshall notes that "We don't know if this is the type of even that lends itself to (drones). We have to follow all rules. We can't overfly cars, we can't overfly crowds, we can't do any of that stuff unless we deem that it's a public safety issue. Then we could make that happen. But let's say we're getting reports that there's a lot of traffic at an intersection and the drone goes to look at that intersection. It can't fly down the middle of the street. It has to stay in a route where it's not overflying homes or people or anything like that. We're really this year going to see what their use is at this type of event."

Drones are just one piece of the complex security puzzle for the event, and Marshall noted that most health and security measures are more subtle than drones and armed guards.