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Drones are expected to play a key role in the up-and-coming smart city environment, providing support for a range of use cases. This is according to a new report by the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) and Securing Smart Cities, a non-profit global initiative that aims to solve the existing and future cyber security problems of smart cities.

The report states some of the use cases of drones in the smart city environment include medical, transport and agriculture. In addition, It notes these civil implementations can also be used for emergency cases such as critical infrastructure protection and inspection, forest fire fighting, restoring telecommunication services in the event of a disaster, coastal monitoring, and identifying changes in urban vegetation.

Securing Smart Cities and CSA told itweb.co.za that the implementation of drones in the smart city setting will involve multiple platforms that will operate simultaneously to run missions. These systems also need to be highly available and ready to be called on when required for a mission.

According to a report from the market intelligence firm, Tractica, the interest in utilising drones for commercial applications will drive commercial-grade UAV shipments from 80,000 units in 2015 to more than 2.6 million annually by 2025. Tractica predict an almost $4 billion annual revenue from commercial drone hardware sales within the same timeframe.

However, the more significant revenue opportunity will be in commercial drone-enabled services, which Tractica forecasts will grow to $8.7 billion annually by 2025.

“Whether you’re a fan of them or not, it’s becoming increasingly evident that drones will, in fact, play an important and even critical role in the smart city environment,” says Brian Russell, co-author of the report.

“Cities around the country are actively working to implement large-scale drone programmes to support various functions ranging from medical, transportation and agricultural to emergency management and infrastructure protection. It is important that these drone systems be safe, stable, resilient and sustainable.”

The Establishing of a Safe and Secure Municipal Drone Programme research report first identifies security threats caused by drones and then provides practical guidance on how drones can be used as an effective cyber security tool in smart city monitoring.

The report also details the impact drones could have on main municipal aspects such as national security, and addresses the required measures needed to protect, monitor, respond to and recover from cyber security threats.