translated by Brett Larner
The Nagano Prefectural Police Department announced this week that for the first time it will employ radio-controlled multicopter drones for security at the 17th running of the Nagano Marathon on April 19. The drones were introduced in March for functions such as traffic accident site investigation. At the Nagano Marathon they will play a surveillance role to help detect suspicious people and trouble in its early stages. Images taken from the sky via the drones' onboard cameras will be transmitted to on-the-ground computers. As a contingency for any crashes, the police plan to fly the drones high above areas without runners or race officials below.
According to the Prefectural Police Security Division Two, the drones will fly around the start area at Nagano Sports Park in the Yoshida neighborhood of the city and the finish at Nagano Olympic Stadium in the Shinonoitofukuji district. They will be used at the start in Nagano Sports Park from 8:15 to 8:45 a.m. to coincide with the 8:30 a.m. start, and likewise they will fly above the Nagano Olympic Stadium finish at the point with the highest density of runners finishing, roughly from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m.
A Security Division 2 spokesperson commented, "The use of drones allows us to ascertain the situation over a large area." After evaluating the outcome of this year's drone program police officials will determine whether to expand their use beyond the start and finish areas next year.