Dublin council’s dedicated drone unit to scale up use in public services

Long-term uses could include cargo and human transportation

A dedicated “drone unit” is to be established in Dublin City Council (DCC) under a new strategy which aims to scale up the use of drones for public services and hopes to pave the way for new forms of transport.

The unit, a core element of DCC’s Drone and Urban Air Mobility Strategy to be launched on Monday, will centralise drone operations and support an accelerated adoption of the technology.

The “ambitious” strategy from 2024 until 2029, which was informed by international experts and developed in co-operation with the Irish Aviation Authority, aims to transform how the city uses drones to enhance public services while understanding their future potential.

Although the council has been using the technology in some scenarios, areas including planning enforcement, emergency response, environmental monitoring and protection, asset management and illegal dumping will see the scaled-up use of drones under the strategy.


Several new dedicated roles to manage and deliver drone services will be created within the drone unit which will serve as the focal point for strategic planning, operational co-ordination and “ongoing innovation” in drone technology as the commercial sector grows.

The council plans to have the unit, which will also ensure regulatory compliance, up and running within 12 months. It will be formed within DCC’s Survey and Mapping division which, alongside Dublin Fire Brigade, already accounts for the majority of current drone use.

Within the next three-five years and beyond, the council hopes to support trials of an “urban air mobility network” in the DCC area.

The trials would involve drones and aircraft capable of carrying passengers and cargo, “which are likely to transform the aviation and city transport sector over the coming years”.

The aircraft would require new infrastructure for safe commercial transport of passengers and goods including dedicated landing and take-off areas called “vertiports”.

The strategy describes Dublin as “one of the most advanced cities in the world in the area of drone deliveries” noting that Manna Drone Delivery has been trialling drone delivery services in Dublin and is now expanding these services globally.

However, it notes that public trust through engagement will be key in scaling up the use of drones, acknowledging the concerns of citizens including safety, security, privacy, noise and “nuisance”.

Eileen Quinlivan, assistant chief executive of Dublin City Council and chairwoman of the Drones High Level Steering Group, said the strategy marked a “significant milestone” for the council.

“By embracing drone technology, we are not only enhancing our service delivery but also paving the way for a smarter, more sustainable city.

“Drones will revolutionise how we approach various tasks, from emergency response and infrastructure inspections to environmental monitoring and urban planning. The benefits for our staff and citizens are immense, and we are committed to ensuring that Dublin remains at the forefront of this urban innovation,” she said.

Jack White

Jack White

Jack White is a reporter for The Irish Times