Matthew Godfrey, the mayor of Ogden, Utah, has a lofty goal. Godfrey has proposed that the town employ an unmanned blimp for surveillance and crime prevention.
“We believe it will be a deterrent to crime when it is out and about and will help us solve crimes more quickly when they do occur,” Godfrey told Reuters.
Godfrey says negotiations are currently taking place over the cost of a blimp being developed and tested by the Utah Center for Aeronautical Innovation and Design at Weber State University. Cigar-shaped, 52-feet long, helium-filled and batter-powered, the airship is equipped with two cameras, and can fly for four to six hours at a time.
“We anticipate using it mainly at night,” Godfrey said. “The cameras have incredible night vision to see with tremendous clarity daytime and nighttime. It will be used like a patrol car. It will be used to go and check things out and keep things safe.”
The research team’s executive director, Bradley Stringer, told Reuters the blimp’s cost would run in the high five-figures, and said Ogden would be the first metropolitan police force to use the technology. Godfey presented his blimp idea to city council members last week, and they are expected to vote on it in the next few weeks.
Ogden may well end up claiming the first unmanned police blimp in the nation, but as TPM reported a few weeks ago, Miami’s police department is currently the front runner to become the first to use an unmanned drone in a U.S. city.
Godfrey did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com