Top Public Safety Drone Programs in Europe

How rescue teams, firefighters and the police use DJI drones to propel their operations

By Erick Razon Erick Razon
November 12, 2021

In Public Safety, the best people need the best tools. Over the last decade, drones have made their way into the toolkits of more and more organizations. Opening up entirely new approaches to keeping people safe, DJI drones and software are being used by some of the biggest and most innovative Public Safety organizations in Europe in the most challenging situations imaginable. From law enforcement to firefighting, to search and rescue, and more, find out how each organization uses its DJI drones in specific ways to protect its citizens.

While the list highlights notable Public Safety drone programs in Europe, there is a possibility that we have omitted some important organizations. If you feel like your team should also be included in this selection, please send an email to and we would be happy to learn about your story!



#1 Swedish National Police took to the air to protect its citizens


Arguably the biggest Public Safety drone program in Europe can be found in Sweden. With over 350 active drones, the Swedish Police Department has found a quick and cost-effective way to enhance their operations.

Usually, when organizations start using drones, it is done at the initiative of an employee who has come to appreciate the features of drones through private usage. A test unit is bought for the organization and after some time an actual “fleet” is established.

Swedish National Police took a more drastic approach: Not only did they envision a nationwide drone fleet of over 300 drones within the first year, but they also developed a game-changing proprietary manual to achieve this massive project roll-out. The manual provided every aspiring drone operator in the organization with the required knowledge to utilize drones during their missions, leading to the enormous success of the Swedish drone program. 

#2 Essex Police is fighting crime with a bird’s eye view


As one of the UK’s drone pioneers, Essex Police in 2016 were busy establishing not only their own drone program. During that time and the years to come, they were also one of the national leads in supplying drones and training to other forces and departments.

Among those departments were the National Crime Agency, Household Cavalry, Border Force, and more-all of which were able to benefit from Essex Police’s experience with drones in public service use cases.

With the help of their drones, Essex Police were able to achieve major successes in the fight against drug-related crime, removing millions of pounds worth of drugs from the streets in 2021 alone.

In the future, they plan to increase the size of their drone program and explore new ways of utilizing drones, especially for indoor use.

#3 State Police St. Gallen is a small giant


As the first police organization in Switzerland to employ full-time drone pilots, the State Police of St. Gallen stands out for its professional approach starting from day one. In addition to their full-time pilots, they have an additional 18 auxiliary pilots from several different departments. These militia pilots undergo several weeks of professional training before being allowed to take their missions to the next level.

Considering the rather small size of their precinct, St. Gallen’s drone program is quite extensive, possibly making it one of the largest programs in relation to the covered area.

#4 Devon and Cornwall Police is taking the world of airborne policing by storm


Think of British weather but even more British. That’s what the police in the coastal towns of Devon and Cornwall are regularly facing during their operations.

However, strong winds and incessant rains did not stop them from deploying a drone solution in 2015, making them the second public safety organization in the UK to have a drone program. Their willingness to innovate has made them become a reference for any department in the UK that plans on establishing a drone program.

Drones are not only supporting their everyday work though. During the recent 2021 G7 summit in Cornwall, they were used to ensure the security of some of the most powerful people in the world, a job that requires the most reliable toolset available.

#5 HGSS is saving lives more safely than ever


Croatia is known for many things, among which might soon be one of the most multi-faceted Public Safety drone programs in Europe.

The Croatian Mountain Rescue Service (HGSS), the largest Search and Rescue organization in Croatia, is a pioneer in deploying drone solutions for public safety use cases, having done so already in the year 2013.

Their early adoption and their more than 300 missions per year have made them the go-to resource for any aspiring drone program in Croatia and beyond. HGSS is also one of the biggest advocates and advisors for drone usage in the International Committee of Search and Rescue (ICAR). Even organizations that don’t have a drone program of their own ask for HGSS’ air support in situations where deploying drones is the best or even the only option to efficiently get a job done. Use cases range from situational awareness, thermal monitoring, and mapping for post-disaster response.

HGSS has always gone beyond searching and rescuing and they continue this legacy with their drone program.

Read about their program here.

#6 Norwegian National Police responds to emergencies in less than a minute


Having already utilized DJI drones in the largest drone rescue mission in European history after a landslide in Åsk, the Norwegian National Police started a trial project for everyday operations.

As part of this “Drones as a first responder” program, DJI drones were set up on rooftops throughout Oslo and Trondheim. Whenever an emergency call came from within one of the drones’ operational radius, the nearest drone was immediately dispatched. The results were impressive, as drones were often able to reach emergencies in as little as 50 seconds, giving the human first responders important situational awareness. They could already plan their mission tactics while driving to the scene due to the available livestream from their drone.

In missions where every second can count, the possibility of gaining visual information on an emergency scene within a minute of a call being made is a potential lifesaver.

#7 Italian National Fire Department is going above and beyond


The Italian National Fire Department has saved lives in some of the largest natural disasters in recent European history. Since 2016 they have used their drones in disaster areas both inside and outside of Italy. Having been airborne a total of more than 4,000 hours with their more than60drones, their steadily increasing experience has allowed them to save 11 lives.

The Italian National Firefighters have been crowned with the Conrad Dietrich Magnus Award as the best firefighters in the world, so you can trust that their innovative practices with drones are to be looked up to.

Looking ahead, the Italian National Fire Department is planning to expand its drone program for an increased response capacity that will potentially save even more lives.

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Erick Razon
About the Author Erick Razon

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