Lately, developments in drone services and technology may immediately get equated with things like applications in combat environments or e-commerce. However, perhaps we can look towards the skies when thinking of alleviating some of the world’s pressing humanitarian issues.
Quadcopters and other autonomous flying vehicles are revolutionising how we tackle big social and environmental problems.
Technology has played a role in the global refugee crisis. The NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) first started sending drones out in 2015 from its emergency rescue vessel, the M.Y. Phoenix.
This brought the ability to find vessels that were carrying refugees and migrants adrift at sea through infrared-equipped cameras. The UAVs would send back coordinates that could greatly assist organisations with rescuing the drifting passengers. The director of MOAS later said the drones had played a crucial role in its ongoing efforts. They can help find vessels carrying refugees and migrants adrift at sea with an infrared-enabled camera, send back coordinates, and help the organisations rescue them.
Over 2 billion people are outside the scope of hospitals and medical clinics around the world. Rural villages, settlements in impassable mountain areas, locations where roads are often impassable due to land or floods.
Zipline utilizes unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) to deliver packages of medical necessities from a projectile or “slingshot” launching system mounted on a small base secured by partner healthcare providers with critical medical products. The UAVs, weighing just 25 pounds, was fully autonomous and controlled by a GPS signal sent from the distribution site via a WhatsApp text message.
This innovative business model enables the organization to supply medication on request, at an affordable price, practically anywhere where there are great need and limited access. The creators began their work in Rwanda only a year ago and will soon open an operation in Tanzania. The Rwandan government has launched an innovative program to ensure that every person has access to medications within 30 minutes regardless of their location, starting with 21 blood transfusion facilities spread across the country.
In 2013, the Philippines experienced one of the worst tropical storms ever reported. Locally known as super typhoon Yolanda, Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the region, killing over 6,000 Filipinos and affecting millions of others.
Although some relief was given by aid organizations, there was so much damage done that extra support was required. SkyEye, a young company led by Matthew Cua, founder of Impact Hub Manila, assisted.
SkyEye has made a difference to disaster relief efforts and is now an internationally renowned UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) company employing 23 people and completing more than 5,000 drone flight hours over more than 100 projects.
Facebook has also announced another project. It built a large drone that might connect people to the internet in disaster areas. Just imagine the importance of connectivity in times of crisis, and how such an initiative can help.
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