Sunday, February 15, 2015

Drones for good?

Louise Redvers in IRIN: Most commonly associated with spying and military missions, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – or drones – for humanitarian purposes is the subject of both hype and caution. Sceptics are wary of the ethical and practical implications, worried about human rights and security aspects and unconvinced by their capabilities and relevance.

But experts argue they could play an important role in disaster relief as well as having other useful civilian applications. A two-day event hosted in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this weekend presented some potentially positive uses for UAVs in civilian and humanitarian settings offering big money prizes to the best ideas.

“Drones don’t have a great reputation,” admitted Patrick Meier, the director of social innovation at Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), and a leading advocate for UAVs in the humanitarian sector, who helped judge the Dubai competition.

“Don’t forget in the past we used to associate satellites with the Cold War and the military, but that has now changed, thanks to the democratization of imagery. Hopefully as the public see more examples of drones doing good, of stopping animal poaching, of saving lives in search-and-rescue efforts or delivering medicines to remote parts of Africa, then perceptions will change,” said Meier, also the co-founder of the Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN), a membership platform for digital disaster response. ...

A NASA Pathfinder drone

No comments: