City presented with award for IT department’s drone presentation

Bret Rowlinson and Ryan Nelson’s presentation helped put Moose Jaw on the map for technological innovation

The City of Moose Jaw’s Information Technology (IT) department was recently presented with a municipal-level award for best presentation after showcasing its use of drone technology earlier this year.

The presentation was given at the Municipal Information Systems Association (MISA) Prairies Chapter in Edmonton, Alta. back in May 2023.

On Oct. 6, 2023, the City of Moose Jaw’s IT department was presented with the award after being notified that its presentation received positive feedback.

The delivery was made by GIS (geographic information system) supervisor Bret Rowlinson and information services manager Ryan Nelson with the City of Moose Jaw.

Titled the “Evolution of a Municipal Drone Program,” the presentation covered the department’s early adaptation of the new drone technology, and it showcased pioneering challenges met by the department and explained how these were overcome.

“The City of Moose Jaw was an early adopter of the technology,” said City of Moose Jaw IT director Wade McKay.

“We have deployed drones for uses such as large-scale volumetric calculations, landfill capacity planning, and even community marketing,” he said.

“The presentation also touched on the challenges faced while implementing this program…,” McKay explained. Among these challenges were regulatory changes brought on by Transport Canada regarding unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), training requirements for drone use, and data processing issues.

As Moose Jaw is situated adjacent to the military base at 15 Wing, one additional challenge is to navigate through UAS regulations put in place by Transport Canada while operating both within and in close proximity to military airspace.  

“We’re proud of our program and it’s an honour to be recognized with this award,” McKay concluded.

After winning the award earlier in May, both Rowlinson and Nelson were additionally presented with a free trip to the British Columbia MISA fall conference in Kelowna, BC. At the fall conference, Rowlinson and Nelson were invited to reiterate their drone presentation.

One outcome from both presentations is to showcase the city as a leader in applying drone technology.

Through the application of drone surveillance and similar technologies, specialists in Moose Jaw can plan and utilize innovative strategies ranging from traffic control to firefighting to policing. The list continues to grow as new uses for drones continue to be developed.

The City of Moose Jaw currently has two drones in active service after the first was purchased in 2016.

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