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Following several periods of heavy snowfall in New England, the City of Somerville, Mass., has incorporated unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into the process of removing masses of snow from building roofs.

The Boston Globe reports that the city hired local aerial cinematography/photography company Above Summit to hover UAVs over roofs of city buildings - covering 10 in one day - and send video to officials, who can then assess the snow accumulation and determine the best method of removal.

According to a release from Somerville’s superintendent of schools and mayor, the city’s schools were closed for a period of time this month due to an unsafe accumulation of snow on many school and municipal buildings.

“With a consistent barrage of snow in a short period of time, snow drifts, some in excess of five and six feet, remain on the roofs of our school and city buildings,” says Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, in the release. “We cannot safely allow our students, teachers and community members into our schools until this snow is cleared, and we cannot safely remove roof snow with the buildings open due to the danger from falling snow and ice.”

Daniel Hadley, chief of staff to Curtatone, told The Boston Globe that drones are “the easiest, quickest way” to inspect the buildings. “As long as we are keeping safety concerns in mind, it’s the perfect use of technology for government,” he said.

Read the full report here.

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