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Population Density Map for Drone Operations

The increase in the use of drones for a wide range of applications underscores the importance of conducting accurate and thorough risk assessments before initiating any operation. One of these critical assessments is the analysis of population density in the operation area, a fundamental element to reduce risks to third parties and ensure safe operations. This analysis is integrated within a Specific Operation Risk Assessment (SORA), which is essential to obtain the necessary Operational Authorizations.

How to Analyse Population Density in Drone Flight

Population density is a key indicator in drone flight planning. It determines the level of risk and the necessary safety measures, especially in densely populated areas where the potential for incidents and damage is higher.

To conduct an effective population density analysis, a methodical and detailed approach that includes several essential steps is required:

1. Identification of High Population Density Areas: Using updated demographic data, areas with high concentrations of people are identified.

For an effective analysis, it is crucial to have access to GIS tools that allow visualisation and analysis of population distribution. Operators must ensure to use updated and detailed data for their assessments. These tools should be provided by the various Member States of the European Union.

Depending on the population density we find, they can be categorised as follows:


 Population density (people/ km2)
Rural area< 25
Sparsely populated area< 250
Suburban area< 2,500
Urban area< 25,000
Dense Urban area< 250,000
Concentration of people< 250,000


2. Risk Assessment Associated: The possible interactions between the drone operations and these dense areas are evaluated, considering factors such as altitude, trajectory, and the specific nature of the drone operation.



3. Implementation of Mitigation Strategies: Based on the population density and the evaluated risks, strategies to mitigate any potential impact are determined and applied. This can include adjustments in flight routes, height restrictions, and the choice of operating hours to minimise exposure to large groups of people.

EU Drone Port has successfully implemented the population density assessment procedure in resolving various operational authorisations in different EU Member States. This meticulous practice not only improves the safety of drone operations, but also allows more accurately determining the risks on the ground and applying different means to mitigate them.

Are you interested in learning more about how we can help you obtain safe and efficient operational authorisations? Contact us to explore customised solutions that fit your operational needs.

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