Are drones the answer in the age of COVID-19? how drones are helping and hindering us in fighting this fight.
In our current climate, when so many are out of jobs and social distancing is a necessity, drones, and drone operators often used for drone photography wedding photography, real estate and creative purposes are now being used to capture people from above without human contact.
British police are using drones to catch public flouting the country's social distancing guidelines and then tweeting about them. The Chinese government, which has long used technology to support its authoritarian regime, is a prime example of its ability to enforce "social distancing" policies.
The Chinese government used a drone equipped with heat sensors to find sick people wandering around public places. Government drone operators scan the population, whose previous tasks include detecting forest fires and monitoring the population for other purposes, to find people potentially infected with COVID-19 who should not be on the move. The avid website Drone DJ has a list of U.S. cities, including New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, with large-scale surveillance drones.
In January, the state-controlled Xinhua news agency reported that the Westport Police Department in New York's Westchester County is using drones with loudspeakers to discourage people from gathering. In its original Facebook post announcing the program, it stressed that drones do not monitor residents "private yards, use facial recognition technology, and that all data collected is anonymous to protect vulnerable groups such as seniors.
For the emerging drone industry, however, it is a sign that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) may actually be one step closer to the mainstream.
Aerial photographer George Steinmetz attempted to document a mass burial by flying a drone over Hart Island, New Zealand, a remote island off the coast of South Africa. He holds an FAA license for drone flight and has spent his 35-year career shooting photo essays, but Hart Island was completely cut off from the press because of the pandemic. Even under normal circumstances, access is limited to outlets that can fly their own helicopters on the island or hire one for $1,000 an hour.
Drone disinfection has proven to be an effective tool for limiting the spread of COVID-19, as it allows large spaces that can be sterilised before humans enter an infected area and become infected with the virus. Several Chinese drone manufacturers have modified what was originally intended to spray disinfectants over large areas, such as plants with pesticides.
Disinfection drones have been deployed in Spain, the first European country, in response to last year's outbreak of the coronavirus. Drones used by people, health officials and governments have been surrounded in recent years by large-scale surveillance cameras and surveillance drones.
In the face of an unprecedented pandemic and the rapid spread of COVID-19, drones are being used to support the response. Drones are also used to distribute quarantine medicines and supplies, eliminating human-to-human contact.
The use of drones during a crisis will continue to increase as we try to limit human contact and provide the supplies needed in the coming weeks and months, but is it a positive thing or not? Are we giving up our rights and privacy?