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Police Drones Approved to Monitor Traffic at New York State Fair

Gov. Cuomo approved the use of state-owned drones to monitor traffic around the parking areas and roads leading to the fairgrounds.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Weekend visitors to this year’s Great New York State Fair, which opened Wednesday, may hear an unfamiliar buzzing above the din of carnival barkers, concerts and all the other assorted goings-on.

In a last-minute announcement, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has approved state-owned drones to be used for the first time to monitor traffic conditions on weekends, which are traditionally the highest attended days of the 13-day event.

The new drone technology will assist the New York State Police and the state Department of Transportation (NYSDOT ) monitor traffic and parking lot capacity in an effort to reduce delays for fairgoers, according to the announcement.

“The New York State Fair attracts visitors from all corners of the state and beyond, and we want fairgoers to enjoy all that the Fair has to offer,” says Gov. Cuomo. “By using state-of-the-art drone technology, we will be able to better respond to changing traffic conditions and ensure a smoother travel experience for visitors. Investments in the State Fair led to record-breaking attendance last year, and we are committed to making this year’s Fair even better.”

A pair of drones owned by the state Department of Environmental Conservation will provide real-time video of traffic starting this weekend. Operating under FAA guidelines by line of sight rules, with a range of approximately one mile, the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will help provide enhanced situational awareness to assist with traffic management.

New York State Police, Homeland Security, NYSDOT and State Fair officials will monitor the video and alert travelers to traffic changes, parking lots that are near capacity or accidents.

NYSDOT will also direct traffic as needed through the use of variable message signs on Interstate 690, State Route 690, Interstate 81 and Interstate 481. The New York State Thruway Authority will broadcast updates on its variable message sign network.

Drone industry investment also complements a larger initiative to boost economic growth as a crucial part of the Central NY Rising plan, according to the announcement. Drone research, development and manufacturing were key to the region’s winning $500 million Upstate Revitalization Initiative plan.

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