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Dallas County, Innovation Alliance Launch Drone and Robotics Program

The county plans to leverage drones and robotic technology to enhance public safety and make the government more efficient.

Earlier this week, the North Texas Innovation Alliance (NTXIA) and Dallas County launched an unmanned aircraft systems and robotics technology program to make the local government more efficient.

According to Jennifer Sanders, NTXIA’s co-founder and executive director, the partnership between the two groups started in 2016. The duo released Dallas County’s Smart County Blueprint in 2021 and is now working with county stakeholders and vendors to get the drone and robotics program off the ground.

The program aims to use drone and robot tech to enhance public safety and streamline day-to-day processes for various county departments.

Initially, Sanders said, seven of the county's departments worked together to identify use cases for the technology. Based on this information, the county and the alliance decided to put the technology to the test and hosted a live tech demonstration on June 26.

“We had a wide array of departments that were in attendance,” Jonathon Bazan, Dallas County’s assistant county administrator, said. “I mean, it’s easy to talk about an approach, like tethered drones, for example, which we were looking at as a possible solution for certain security issues in our large parking lots and some of our grounds.”

But, Bazan added, “For all the departments and key stakeholders to kind of get to see that solution in action and then to work with the different vendors who are in the area and talk through the what-ifs and all the different possibilities — it’s just a great value for us before we decide to take a step forward.”

Another possible application of the tech is cleaning the county’s jail facilities.

“Cleaning in the jail is actually a very difficult subject, from getting folks through the security clearance process, which is very significant, and the actual cost that goes with having somebody go through that level of clearance,” Bazan said. “Modern robotics assisting with the cleaning was very interesting for us, and to kind of watch some of the robots in action, their performance was stellar and is something we hope to pilot in the near future.”

Following the event, Bazan said his inbox is full of requests from department heads wanting to pilot the technology, while Sanders said she fielded many questions about what’s next.

“The discussion I’ve already had internally is what would this look like for the next round?” Sanders said. “One idea is there’s a lot of preparation going on for the World Cup, which is coming up in Dallas in 2026. We’re already looking at different use cases, but we’re also making sure we’re keeping in mind the long-term application of any investments.”
Katya Maruri is an Orlando-based e.Republic staff writer. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in global strategic communications from Florida International University.