Drones, Hype, and COVID-19

NetHope Solutions Center Webinar Series

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The purpose of this webinar is to critically review and question how drones are being applied in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will critically analyze which drone applications make sense, which don't, and which may make sense. We'll cover spraying, temperature scanning, audio broadcasts, delivery, surveillance, mapping, connectivity, and more.

The most popular applications to date include spraying, patrolling and surveillance, public announcements, cargo delivery, and measurement of body temperature. While some of these applications have already been debunked by science, they’re still being used by drone companies and governments in multiple countries. The supposed success of other applications is anecdotal at best while several raise important concerns around data privacy and data protection. Some of these applications also face important logistical hurdles and others completely ignore the digital divide. This does not mean that drones cannot add value, but it does mean that more critical thinking is needed along with a deeper understanding of the local context, actual needs, priorities, alternatives, cultures, sciences, technologies, and the digital divide to evaluate the potential value of drones in response to the pandemic.


Andrew Schroeder, Ph.D., Vice President of Research and Analysis, Direct Relief

Patrick Meier, Executive Director, WeRobotics


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