Drone Used to Reconnect Scottish Highland Community

Engineers in Scotland used a drone to reconnect the remote community after a landslide saw its communication cut off. 

The Openreach team used a drone to fly a cable over the safety exclusion zone allowing them to reconnect the remote highland community to the existing network.

After reconnecting the cable, the team then walked three miles in a downpour of rain and hail to the next radio sub-station to make sure all six lines had a dial tone.

On November 22nd, a landslide which saw 9,000 tons of soil and rock crash 2,500ft onto the road outside Kinloch Hourn occurred. The landslide completely destroyed the road and left Kinloch Hourn disconnected, the phone fault was only reported this week.

Fraser MacDougall, Openreach operations manager for Highlands and Islands, said: “As there is no mobile reception at Kinloch Hourn, the radio link is the main means of communication and summoning help in emergencies.

“It was important to get it restored so that residents have access to services while clean up and stabilisation works are completed. It initially looked impossible due to the exclusion zone and road closure, but then we hit on the idea of using the drone.”

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Recently, drones were deployed in River Findhorn to help Openreach engineers lay armoured cable in remote areas as part of a project to bring more reliable, ultrafast broadband to the residents of Glenmazeran. Robert Thorburn, partnership director for Openreach in Scotland, said that the use of drones not only helped the company to deliver broadband faster, it also drove down delivery costs significantly.

Increasingly, drones are being deployed to assist in a variety of situations such as the ones above as often they are fastest and safest option in a hostile environment to gain access to people in trouble. Drones are currently being trialed for use in sea search and rescue operations.

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