Drones and Disaster Response

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hi I'm Craig Whitlock I'm a reporter with The Washington Post I'll cover national security and have written a fair bit about drones and UAV the past few years I have the honor of serving as the moderator for the next panel on drones and disaster response we've got three panelists it like to introduce briefly as if they could come up please first is Patrick Meyer Patrick as you seen wrote a terrific or was a primary author of the terrific chapter in the primer today he's a well-known expert and humanitarian technology and innovation and the author this year of digital humanitarians how big data is changing humanitarian response look forward to hearing some of his thoughts on some of the uses of drones for disaster response particularly in Nepal and other places next panelist is Abby Weaver from the Red Cross Oh keeping the chair okay sorry misunderstood thought you come Abby's with the Red Cross here based here in Washington has been doing a lot of research and testing of emerging technology solutions for the Red Cross and we look forward to hearing her thoughts about some of the promise and perils of in that arena going forward and also have CJ Guinness who's going to be our third panelist CJ I had on your bio that you were the chief operating officer for unity group is that correct and look forward to hear I know you understand from Constantine you all been doing some work on cargo delivery and things like that so look forward to hearing more on that but first we'll be hearing a presentation from each of them would you like me to sit back down and we'll let Patrick start off thanks very much thank you very much thanks for the kind introduction and thank you very much to the America and and amid ER for including a chapter on humanitarian applications in the primer as well as dedicating a full panel today on the topic it's real pleasure to be in fun as such an informed audience you could all be giving talks here it's been phenomenal conversations I've had on the side this morning in this afternoon so my new book digital humanitarians explores some of the most promising emerging humanitarian technologies including the current use of UAVs now the primer itself specifically focuses on the use of UAVs for data collection and so what I'm going to be doing is keeping that particular focus in my presentation I want to extend it to the payload delivery use cases or communication services but I am actively exploring these and other use cases in the humanitarian context and I'm we're going to be hearing from my other fellow panelists on some of these other use cases as well so yeah so it's very slow here so this is a very first high-resolution aerial image of a major disaster taken all the way back in nineteen oh six after the earthquake in San Francisco and was done using a camera that weighed 49 pounds and was hosted up to about 2,000 feet with a combination of kites so that was that was about a hundred or so years ago and this is today in Haiti where the best pilots of the Caribbean have been using UAVs for disaster risk reduction and disaster response in fact these pilots here I'm not sure the video is playing or not should be playing should not be playing is not playing I guess none of the videos are going to work that's a shame these UAV pal sakta come from CT Soleil which was mentioned as sort of a red zone in in port-au-prince and what they've been doing is using UAVs in response to a number of hazards and in fact hurricane sandy which went right through haiti on its way north to the east coast and so on and what they did within 24 hours thanks to iom the international organization for migration is to basically deploy these UAVs this was done by local team of haitians and in collaboration with I oh I'm and the government Aleppo techno Steve you were able to very rapidly do some initial disaster damage assessments and ensure that quite broadly aerial imagery was also used later on to put together these 3d point clouds for risk modeling and digital terrain models this is of an area valley called vvl agrees which is very prone to flooding so doing this kind of risk modeling and analysis was also very key you can see here on the lower right the coverage now this was three to three years ago we can do this kind of fifty square kilometers in about three hours now not not six days so the technology is certainly improving now moving to the Philippines where a major high-end category 5 typhoon slammed into the philippines in 2013 and again here we saw a number of UAVs used in response for different use cases from disaster damage assessment along the coastlines in Tacloban which was in the hardest hit areas to road clearance operations and also identifying displaced people's and what this allowed the humanitarians to do is will accelerate their relief efforts and and better target the provision of relief support and services as was supplies a couple month after the typhoon UAVs were also used in the recovery phase and with very strong local community engagement so a group called mettere a swiss international humanitarian organization and partnership with drone adventures I used UAVs and late in Tacloban to identify which families were falling behind in the reconstruction providing them with extra support resources and also advocating on their behalf with regular government and they also took the time to share imagery both in physical format and hardcopy in digital form with local authorities like the mayor of Tacloban and local communities and what they did in this case in the latter case was go to a local banner shop and print out these very high-resolution images on a water on a rollable waterproof banner that would basically be a lot more durable in the field during future typhoons and rains and so on however during and in response to typhoon Haiyan vast majority of other UAV teams were not sharing any kind of aerial imagery with local authorities or local communities the majority of them were not even plugged in to the formal international humanitarian efforts which meant that there was very little to no information sharing with humanitarian organizations and frankly most of these different most of these various UAV teams did not know about each other which presents not only a security safety security issue but also just in terms of efficiency is not the right way to go about it and when I googled code of conduct UAVs and disaster response while i was in manila with the UN right after typhoon haiyan nothing came up there was just there was nothing on this so I decided to launch the humanitarian you AV network or you aviators which seeks to promote the safe coordinated and effective use of UAVs in a wide range of humanitarian settings the advisory board of you aviators includes the United Nations the World Bank the Red Cross the European Commission 3d robotics DJI sense fly and literally a dozen other experts in this area including a few who are here today k Chapman Timothy Reuter and I think Thompson ish was here also this morning we've been actively promoting a code of conduct on the use of UAVs and humanitarian settings along with detailed best practices and actually we just ran last week a three-day policy forum on humanitarian UAVs that was supported by the Rockefeller Foundation hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation worry about 22 organizations together not only to revise the code of conduct but also to provide start developing new guidelines in four key areas namely data ethics so the data management informed consent data sharing and so on of aerial imagery number two's community engagement social engagement and so on third was effective in principled partnerships between humanitarian organizations and UAV teams UAV companies and operators and the force was conflict sensitivity and the use of UAVs in conflict zones and we had all the large humanitarian organizations UN field based organizations present we had dpk Oh a colonel 4dp KO as well as a senior representative from the peacekeeping mission in the DRC that joined us and really contributed directly in developing some of these guidelines which I'm very excited to mention we've actually converged on which there was no guarantee so we'll be doing a soft launch of these guidelines in coming weeks and this community all of you here are going to be integral in giving us feedback this is really the first draft and it needs to be basically shopped around and get everybody else's input on this the network also adds as crowdsource crisis map I'm not sure if the video is going to work it works and disaster videos and pictures taken by UAVs from all around the world and the primary purpose of this grassroots crisis map is to further promote the code of conduct especially to members of the public so yes it could potentially raise situational increase situational awareness but the primary motive behind this is to further exposed best practices and the code of conduct you'll find 50 60 aerial videos and pictures of Katmandu and Nepal post-earthquake for example we've also offered the very first formal training on humanitarian missions specifically geared towards established humanitarian organizations so we had a number of UN agencies we had the European Commission in fact as well I take part in this three-day 12 hour a day intense I hands on humanitarian we be training we do this in partnership with the aeronautics university vives in belgium this was held just at the end of May will be organising a very similar three-day training again specifically geared towards humanitarian organizations here in the US most likely in maryland this fall and at the request of UAV companies UAV operators will also be offering a dedicated course to those companies that are certainly experts in the technology but have little to no experience whatsoever in basically responding in international humanitarian disaster assistance which has proven to be quite a problem in Nepal and I might hint about this a bit more in the QA moving again for it and I'll get back into the operations and end with a with a case study but you AVS has a very strong local capacity building project and just to give you one example we've teamed up and partnered with Katmandu living labs in Nepal in fact we did this last year but we only just got funding now ironically after the earthquake to set up a local UAV innovation lab in Nepal with the expressed purpose of building local capacity within kll and the University of Katmandu so that you've got local expert UAV pilots who know operate maintain and also with the student connection and university connection analyze the imagery we're also including payload delivery and communication services in that innovation lab holding a first international humanitarian award to promote and really reward the appropriate use of technology of this technology in humanitarian settings I mentioned I wanted to go back to end with a with an operational example of UAVs and in his acetate uation so this is basically March 2015 a few months ago the World Bank activated the humanitarian UAV network to basically launch a humanitarian EV mission asked me to basically identify appropriate UAV teams we have a global roster of UAV pilots more than 300 in several dozen countries there were plenty from Australia New Zealand these were the two groups that we ended up contracting through the World Bank and the mission was very very specific was to complement the bank's field-based surveys disaster damage assessments on the ground which a lot of every humanitarian organization does as a first response to a major disaster but there are challenges with any kind of field based assessments and they are here first of all incredibly time-consuming it's very manual it's really going door-to-door and quality control is a nightmare about thirty percent of the field based surveys that were carried out in Vanuatu after cyclone Pam were useless and so it's really a means to try and triangulate and cross-reference and then third you've got limited perspective it's you're going field-based surveyors are bound by the laws of gravity and they don't take all the time they could to do this kind of assessment because they don't have the luxury so the very key concrete focus was to basically carry out these aerial surveys of affected areas to identify fully damage versus partially damaged houses these are just a few pictures from the mission itself the UAV assets that were at our disposal were primarily multirotors quadcopters as well as hexacopter we had access to one fixed wing but it.we ideal work towards the end of the mission so it's really multirotors that we made the most use of we had a phenomenal and outstanding collaboration with the government of Vanuatu enabling us to fly extended beyond line-of-sight as well as phenomenal collaboration with air traffic control and the Australian Defence Force which meant that we were able to operate not only in rural areas and disaster-affected areas in rural parts of Vanuatu and the outlying islands but we were able to operate right in the capital in Port Villa because we had direct communication with air traffic control and we had set up standard operating procedures with the Australian Defence Force on how we would get flight permission so this really very much proves that it is absolutely possible when appropriate mechanisms for coordination are in place to carry out humanity on you leave emissions in non-segregated air spaces in complex air spaces we did it for two weeks not a single incident and this is when you appreciate also working with with professionals who know what they're doing so these just more pictures now a couple more than the data because ultimately in this case that's what we're talking about aerial data is becoming a big data challenged and this was very clear in the response to Vanuatu because even though the World Bank had contracted us to collect this data they were completely overwhelmed with other data and doing other data analytics tasks that you have time right away to start analyzing the aerial imagery so we collaborated and partnered instead with humanitarian OpenStreetMap Cristiano from osm is here today who took the lead in doing this kind of analysis on the ortho rectified nadir imagery which was very very important to speed things up but even more important or oblique images for the purposes of disaster damage assessments they give you a lot more information I'm at a time apparently so I'm going to speed up we sliced up the imagery and we crowd-sourced it using a platform called micro mappers which we've developed it's a free and open-source platform developed in partnership with the United Nations we had hundreds of volunteers basically analyze about 6,000 high resolution aerial images in a matter of days I will skip these are some of the initial results we can go into the methods later what we're also doing is developing platforms to analyze aerial video feeds live feeds from disaster areas this was an aerial video from Vanuatu but it took us a few days to analyze it we didn't do in real time now we're working with the University of Southampton to do a real time using human computing and artificial intelligence and advanced computer vision techniques to do automated feature detection but ultimately both these oblique images and the aerial videos present some major challenges in terms of geo referencing so we've got actually forget 2d all together and move directly to 3d this was a 3d point cloud of one of the villages that we surveyed in Vanuatu it gives us a lot more to work with in terms of doing disaster damage assessment and I'm out of time so I'm not going to speak to this but Nepal was a milestone as far as humanitarian UAV missions go there's a lot more in my blog on I revolutions org where I've got a very long blog post on the early observations I'll just say one thing that it was an important precedent with Nepal namely that the United Nations publicly requested that all UAV teams in Nepal liaised directly with the humanitarian UAV network so we were in fact at the end the day liaisoning with 15 UAV teams over the course of four to five weeks after the earthquake which really means it was the most coordinated UAV mission in response to a major disaster but goodness knows some of the challenges we need to really get our act together very quickly and that's what we're working on at the ua Viator's but I'd love to talk to any of you who are interested in being part of the solution as well and a lot more in my and my book on this on the humanitarian UAV side thank you anke oh so everyone I'm Abby Weaver I work for the Red Cross I am based here in Washington and work for the American Red Cross but I am going to talk about what we're doing globally as my work extends beyond the borders here and in fact is mostly outside of the United States this particular panel is really focused on disaster response but I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge other areas of our mission and how we're applying UAV technology for the full disaster cycle so we are also working on a number of different applications preparedness recovery and development preparedness in particular helping to identify risks before they become disasters and helping to mitigate them through our program decisions and with recovery we're also looking at health and community development and planning the Red Cross approach to UAVs really started about two years ago with some fundamental research and has evolved into three work streams that I can briefly mention to you I am really pleased a message that I keep hearing throughout the day about community perception and community leadership and normally we are one of the only organizations in conferences like this that are really championing this message and I'm really pleased that we've tipped the scales and this has been a common theme here today because the first work stream is really about expanding community access management and ownership of this technology international actors deploying UAVs is one model but as we've heard from other people today it is often not the most optimized needs based or sustainable approach and so we have been working on a number of different initiatives to really put control into the communities and help build some capacity there that work starts with some basic research around community perceptions we've been spending a lot of time with communities around the world mostly urban communities but a range of different backgrounds and different levels of digital literacy to understand what are their attitudes beliefs questions and concerns about UAVs and I'll give you some high-level findings in just a second and what we've been doing with that information is building a set of tools that will help industry improve the technology improve improve the deployment strategies and overall be more needs based or human centered in their work we want to see a shift to more appropriate accessible and affordable technologies so the high-level findings of this research really tell us that the humanitarian sector is very cautious about this technology or emerging technologies in general and they often do it out of fear of exacerbating risk or vulnerability in these communities but I think we're projecting a lot of that on these communities because when we actually talked with mothers and fathers and students and local business owners they didn't share the same fears and concerns that the humanitarian community did and what we found was a lot of optimism and enthusiasm and excitement about this technology and applications that we could have never dreamed up of that solve local problems and really address local priorities and sometimes what the humanitarian community was thinking drones should be used for was mismatched with what the community thought they should be used for we also really looked at where there were concerns because we didn't want to ignore that what we saw were a lot of culturally driven and and religiously driven fears there's there's a comment c'est comment I don't want to generalize this but there is there was a theme about technology that's over head over your physical head is more threatening than those that you can see or which is below you it's sort of a psychological thing there was also a prejudice or a fear in communities that were post-conflict communities where drones had been weaponized that's very natural and understandable and what we found was that there was also fear and apprehension where there was a prevalence of access to popular media we found a lot of concerns in communities where they had been exposed to entertainment or the ways that drone have drones have been portrayed in media so those who have access to film or television had a biased or skewed perception about what that technology could actually do we had fascinating discussions in a slum in Nairobi about drones sort of taking over and who's your master we had these hold dialogues and naturally the entertainment industry can exaggerate what these tools can do far more than what they are actually technologically capable of doing but the community wasn't able to decipher that they didn't have that technical expertise some other findings that we found were that we asked questions about does it matter the type of drone doesn't matter the sound does it matter the branding does it matter the size and those things were really minor elements to their attitudes and perceptions what was really important regardless of all those decisions is that they were notified and had a role in the decision making about when those flights took place and where they took place and what that mission was all about so we have been spending a lot of time with communities thinking about citizen committees and their role in decision-making and information to send the nation particularly honing in on the benefit right now the communities we spoke to don't feel connected to the benefit that humanitarians are deriving from UAVs they feel like there's a flight that goes over the community and all the information sort of sent to a database or a headquarters elsewhere and they don't ever see any of the results of that activity and so trying to connect back that data to their issues their priorities has been something that we've been really focusing on and we've been building tools that will help industry and others facilitate these conversations facilitate this research and then support the outcomes of that we have been working directly with manufacturers or several different companies on this for a little over a year the second work stream so that was work stream number one the second work stream where the Red Cross is really investing a lot of time and resources is related to the work that Patrick is leading and that is really defining and incentivizing good practices and shaping the systems and policies to support that we've been weighing in a lot of regulations here in the United States the Netherlands where these policy debates are moving forward and really trying to balance the rights of survivors with the aspirations of helpers and as I said before those are not always aligned so trying to find the balance of advocating for our organizations and our peers but truly remembering why we're doing this and it is for the communities affected by disaster we've been working in both over regulated environments and under regulated environments and there's freedoms in both of those we've also been contributing to the code of conduct development and the training in particular the Red Cross has a lot of expertise and international humanitarian law in conflict settings and protecting vulnerable communities maintaining some neutrality and impartiality and so one of our recommendations around the training is that international humanitarian law be a modular component of that training especially for operators who might be working in border settings or flying across borders or even just with refugee or vulnerable marginalized communities one other thing i will say particularly around coordination which falls into this bucket is that this may be obvious but we all don't need to fly and I and we have been spending a lot of time at the Red Cross really thinking through where do we need to fly where can we fly and then where can we actually leverage the partnerships that we're building in this room and outside of this room to share data Patrick sort of alluded to with Nepal we made a conscious decision not to fly there because there was such a saturation of people flying and collecting information and what can happen in a disaster situation where the community is already fractured already vulnerable is that we can completely overwhelm them add to their vulnerability slow the recovery process when you have a million organizations coming to the government and coming to the community asking for the same permissions and same exemptions and it puts a lot of stress and strain on those communities so it's in the United States our immediate strategy is that we are going to work with insurance companies and the public sector to leverage the data that they are collecting to make our assessments for our situational awareness and decision-making and that is just as much smarter decision than putting an additional vehicle up into the air and it adds a new complexity to emergency management planning we have to think about what our roles are in those plans it's not just about who's bringing the shelter supplies and who's bringing the water we have to think about who's flying and who's processing the data and who owns that data it's a whole other chapter to a very long set of emergency plans the third work stream is the exciting stuff which is around the actual demonstrations where are we flying so we are doing a number of different experiments around the world to demonstrate different use cases just quickly I will say we have flown in Indonesia one example there is that we wanted to mark progress from the 2004 indian ocean tsunami to today so as you know the landscape changed dramatically after that disaster and with the development and the recovery work that was done in those 13 14 countries so we were able to partner with several organizations to capture the imagery to document that progress and see where there were gaps and opportunities for more investment we are also working in Peru Peru is like the most popular country this example we are working with local community members to take trash plastic bags and stitch them together to form balloons that will assess whether data and help with some of our climate mitigation and adaptation in the Netherlands we are piloting another use case we there are a lot of fitness freaks there and a lot of marathons a very healthy country we are going to be monitoring some of the large sporting events to identify injuries sooner dispatch emergency responders to those locations and to transport critical first aid supplies directly to that incident so we're mixing a lot of different applications they're one of the most exciting demonstrations that we're doing is in Ireland and this is where we're using a swarm of UAVs to help temporarily restore communications networks both Wi-Fi and mobile through a mesh network and Ireland seems like a very strange place to do that because it's not very disaster-prone but there are recurrent floods there and we want to address a really chronic issue we also have a number of weather challenges that will give us some really good evidence that we can take to other communities and the swarm itself we're going to be looking at how we have a suspended vehicle as well as vehicles that are posed on top of rooftops so we're trying a couple different things there so in conclusion I am over time but I just want to say as patrick said there are many challenges that you all Illustrated here today and that we will talk more about in the QA but one of the greatest challenges to humanitarian UAV applications is really around mindset we are learning a ton with all of these demonstrations disasters are happening more frequently and we are not processing and adapting those lessons learned quick enough in the Philippines we learned a ton and we repeated those mistakes in Nepal and so what I would love to do is to see that learning speed up and that as we go into new disaster scenarios that we can rapidly apply those and actually have some progress and then also that we don't go it alone I think that right now we don't have enough incentives to work together and in partnership and we're duplicating a lot of efforts and the one area where strict government regulations really helps is that the government's are forcing us to collaborate because there are not a lot of exemptions to go around in a disaster so that has been one area of benefit for us in this in this adventure or this journey to explore the humanitarian use of UAVs thank you hi I know we're short on time I think you have another tall tall friend here had trouble using the mic my name is CJ Guinness I'm from New York I'm part of a company called unity development group we develop infrastructure and do private equity in emerging markets where we see potential to transform lives as well as have good investments let's give you an example of one of our major projects we're trying to build a railroad across East Africa why land long nations don't have market access very expensive to get things in and out keeps people in poverty we want to see economic development happen one of the things is kept people in poverty for a very long time and that we're seeing change in Africa for instance as one example is a lack of infrastructure finally we're catching on to the fact that infrastructure changes lives whether it's ports or railroads or whatever in this sensing instance drone infrastructure will change lives and it's a natural extension of the existing infrastructure that we're seeing developed we're at a institutional sponsor of a company called red line which is being launched currently spearheaded and chaired by gentleman named Jonathan lead guard out of the University of Lausanne and red lines mission is to pioneer effective cargo logistics for the off-grid world including in disaster response situations our goal is to advance the technology both the software and the hardware to a point where we can carry heavier payloads over longer distances at high repetition second of all we want to develop drone ports drone infrastructure to receive and send off cargo third of all we want to integrate with existing logistics systems around the world Logistics is a massive problem and it's it's one of the most important solutions if you look at the Red Cross it's effectively a logistics organization look at my friend Scott over here in arm from the Army the army is effectively a logistics organization and if you want to help people in poverty if we want to help change things in disaster situations we need good logistics and we believe at red line that drone logistics of the key to doing that if you look at it natural disasters or some of the disasters that have been referenced what we're seeing is dis integrity the system is breaking down typical logistics are breaking down road infrastructure bridge infrastructure port infrastructure is breaking down and sometimes it's very difficult to get response to the people who need it and so I believe that drone effective cargo logistics using UAV will be a response in the very short term as you know currently rolling able to carry very small payloads but that's going to change and one of our aspirations has radically increase the payload size that we can deliver for a low enough cost where there's a product market fit both for disaster scenarios and for emerging markets but even now with small payloads you can carry small high-value payloads in the case of off-grid communities today we can carry medical necessity so in the case the Red Cross we can carry both medicine and blood transfusions to medical clinics to people who need it we can also carry economic necessities solar panels competing equipment mobile equipment of things that can change lives much further down the road you know we see the development of effective markets like we see with Amazon and Google in the United States Amazon and Google Tim back here these guys are focusing on last mile logistics for the developed world we're focused on middle mile logistics for the world that is that is not yet developed but we think we see in the very near future in the next five to ten years the development of an Amazon like market in in the emerging market and frontier market world where people through their mobile devices will be able to order the products which they can afford in which they need and they'll be able to receive them through Jonah logistics and we hope the same will be true for disaster response that whatever the immediate solutions are whether its medical aid food aid or other products for building materials they will be able to ship those and get them to the people who need them in an effective manner my encouragement today to you in this audience there's a number of foundations and this this area is such an important area for foundations it's an industry which is emerging it's an entire market that's emerging it's a solution that's developing and foundations and nonprofit capital have a huge role to play just as the government has played in the development of internet which my friend Scott mentioned earlier to take on risky investments at this time prior to them meriting private capital and so there are some things where the technology is not yet developed there some aspects where the infrastructure and the logistics is not yet developed obviously the regulations or something that's but we've talked about today which really merit foundation capital because they don't yet merit private sector capital there is the merit private sector capital are receiving a lot of investment and they'll continue to do so but I want to encourage you at foundations and people who are more philanthropic reminded infrastructure is an incredible place to invest where you'll change lives thank great so I'll try and knit some of this together but one thing I've heard from each of you is the promise but also the challenge of using this technology and disaster zones or in unimproved areas and one thing there really has been a real revolution in aviation in terms of the affordability and capabilities that drones provide the same time that affordability for humanitarian organizations that makes it possible for them to fly aviation assets that in the past only national governments or the military would be able to that same capability can now be purchased and operated by just regular folks and so when you come to a disaster zone we saw this in Nepal you've already made some mention of this I can very much for see the next disaster zone not only will there be a number of humanitarian groups coming in with their own drone assets pilots but it would be very simple for people who live there people who are from that country to have their own as well and that's going to be you know I can only imagine this happening in the United States where hurricane sandy went up and down the East Coast a few years ago imagine if that happened now how many people civilians would be out there flying their own and trying to bring some order out of that is going to be a real challenge i'd like to hear from you all not only suggestions or ideas on how to bring some order and coordination among humanitarian organizations but just in general with governments with militaries and with civilians anybody care to start off with that sure how much time do we have so so disaster tourists have always been an issue and he managed here in setting this is nothing you now of course are coming up and shin and showing up with quad copters i bought you know last week which which certainly is a problem but i wouldn't say they were the major issue in in nepal i mean a number of a number of individuals did get in touch with the humanitarian TV network then we've got a sense of how much experience they had and if they really did not have that much experience we would say thank you very much please stay on standby and for the most part they were excited to stay on standby right the biggest issue one of the biggest issues that we faced was more private sector companies who are again experts at the technology and but zero experience in humanitarian response and unfortunately I think they their assumption that they the fact that they were experts in in in in the technology kind of I think made them assume that they were they were going to be experts in disaster response as well and that didn't that didn't go down very well and number of them got arrested about 16 UAVs were confiscated and rightly so a number of UAV companies decided that the fact that there was no regulations give them a call to Blanche to basically do everything they want a rather poor judgment if you ask me and and you know there was only so much we could do in terms of promoting the code of conduct and the good news now is despite all these the the the fiasco and the circus of the response to Nepal a number of humanity organizations realize the gap that exists in coordinating that and and have asked us to start filling that gap in proposing standard operating procedures and so on so we'll get there but coordination regardless of uavs is a single biggest challenge in disaster response and has been for decades so this is not going to be you know solved overnight but the good news is that we're taking the first few steps and even though the evidence I will end with this even though the evidence base for the added value of UAVs and humanitarian settings is still necessarily thin it's a new emerging technologies the fact that we were able to spend three days last week with leading humanitarian organizations and UAV experts to create and develop those guidelines now to inform the safe coordinate an effective use of UAVs i think is to be applauded i think the humanitarian community is not missing the boat and the humanitarian a UAV side as they did with the mobile web mobile technology revolution ten years ago well Abby what the Red Cross is a lead player in these scenarios I sense from your discussion that it's been cautious about trying to lay down the rules or take an active role in operating its own to what degree has it been thinking about this internally about you who is going to coordinate this who's going to be you know in some ways it's sort of crying out for a lead agency when the government can't step in yeah i would i would say we've been pretty progressive i mean i think that we see an opportunity we just want to be smart and efficient about it i think just because it's new doesn't mean it is better faster or cheaper and it doesn't mean that it brings value to the communities that we're trying to help so we've been really trying to hone in on what do the communities need and what are their priorities but in terms of coordination I will just like in this to the bar to help is lower than ever and that is not just with drones we see with digital volunteerism and others there's lots of ways for people to get involved in a disaster response and some of it is helpful and some of it is less helpful and it just takes persistence and constant education with the general public I mean I think back to hurricanes from the 80s when we were bombarded with landfills worth of clothing that people donated from their homes because they want to help and over the last few decades we've been able to transform and and transfer or channel that compassion into more meaningful ways to help in a disaster and it's a process I think people want to do what they can do and money is always a barrier so they look in their closets or they look in their hobbies or they look in their expertise to help and what we need to do is just find a menu of opportunities for people to help and I think Patrick was saying that some of it lies and preparedness is that engaging these hobbyists engaging the activists and engaging the disaster tourists before disasters happen engaging them as coordinated volunteers we have a professional volunteer network where they can get trained in advance they can plug into our systems they can learn about codes of conduct and principles and then when the disaster helps they can apply those skills in a really helpful way and so in terms of coordination I think it's plugging into institutions that have this expertise and our job is to go out there and find those people and bring them into our organization before the disaster happens one more question that will open it up to the floor but for CJ you you were really talking about delivery of cargo and payloads and you know up till now I think we've been talking mostly about drones as fine cameras and sensors but there's certainly in the longer term seems like there's enormous potential for delivery of needed goods in conflict zones or in disaster areas can you comment a little bit on what you see is that long-term potential how far out are we from under consistent basis being able to use or deploy drones to deliver medicine food other really urgently needed items in a disaster zone that up till now as has you know we've had to do with either man flight or on the ground that's a great it's a great question the answer is nobody knows right now people are conducting flights to deliver medicine and other high-value small packages in places like Africa but it's not happening at scale it's not happening with integration with existing logistics I think in the next three years we will see payload capacity rise above 100 pounds and I think you know we'll see distances lengthen as well what needs to happen is that we need to develop infrastructure so we need to develop physical drone ports and in drum ports that are located in place was that there's where there's market demand possibly we need mobile drone ports that can go into zest response to situations where they've been wiped out we really need all of our logistics providers who are out there who are already interested in the subject to look at the off-grid world because the logistics that have been developed now that Tim's working on for San Diego are very different from what's required in Africa both from a technical and physical standpoint from a price point standpoint but I think in the night in a very short amount of time I think in three years our goal is that in three years we will develop the technology to carry payloads 100 pounds over distances at least hundred and twenty kilometers our goal is we will have developed drum port infrastructure that works to receive and send drones carrying payloads at a at a high rate of repetition where you know obviously UAV have a meaningful competitive advantage of vermin diagram at third of all I want to have integrated with with logistics companies in terms of a system where we can receive packages that are sent from anywhere in the world through existing you know cargo infrastructure in emerging markets like we're serving in Africa and our hope is to develop a regulatory model in Africa you have generally you have a virgin regular to environment when it comes to UAV and you have a huge human need and so there's a good opportunity there to develop very simple regulations like we have in Switzerland where UAV logistics are actually feasible now we've seen things shut down and place to lakenya in reaction to to terrorism which is very understandable but our hope is that within three years we will have a scalable model there's huge market demand out there and I hope it in three years we'll have a big model that we can then blow out so I think in the next five to ten years we will see a meaningful cargo logistics UAV industry developed not only in the United States of regulations interpreting it but also permitting it but also in emerging markets we have a couple minutes for questions if people could stand up identify themselves and ask a nice pithy question please we'll start with this gentleman then the gentleman in the back please with practical action a question that I have about this is a lot of times we talk about humanitarian response but there's also this equal partner with that that's a kind of disaster risk reduction working on on building back better things like that I was wondering you thinking building by building back better basically you can if you invest beforehand you'll save more money than what you would ever put out for an actual disaster so I was wondering if there's been any work that's been done that uses drones for that kind of work and if you know of anything that's like that and and what's been done in that space yeah I can just give a couple examples in South Africa there has been some work looking at urban settlements and particularly looking at flood drainage and making something seen where there's blockages and seeing where that can be cleared so that we can actually mitigate the disaster in advance there's also in those same communities looking at where pathways and these really dense labyrinths where roads or pathways are blocked so that ambulances and evacuations can take place efficiently in an emergency those that's just one example that I can share with you that I hope to see the sort of preparedness and Risk Reduction use cases increase there's so I mentioned there's Haiti i mentioned that program with IOM World Bank in Davao Salaam in Tanzania flew a number of fixed when UAVs in March for disaster risk reduction regarding the massive flooding that happens in Jerusalem there's a project in Jakarta that's also focused on disaster risk reduction and in the Pacific with the World Bank it's a resilience UAV program for with respect looking at climate change and disaster preparedness and so on so there's quite a bit sir I'm Humphrey i'm a former diplomat and current Intel analyst I'm warning if there's any sort of identification Friend or Foe chip a little lightweight transponder or beacon that could be put on these drones I'm imagining a situation in which you have six or seven drones from six or seven agencies flying over cop mon Dieu and a forward air controller can't see any of it and the Fairfax rescue team comes in and they would love to have an overview of a collapsing building and there's already six birds in the air but there's no forward air controller and he can't see the drones because there's no iff chip is there any sort of development on a lot of those lines and the technology that's a great question i think also maybe there's if one of them crashes or gets lost or may not be a identification number on there to anybody have any thoughts on that Patrick what did you find in Nepal yeah so this was also a conversation that happened last week at the forum so I think we're definitely headed towards that and technology certainly part of the solution in terms of coordination but if you simply have already teams sharing with you your their flight plans where they're flying when they're flying and so on you already have clarity you already have some situational awareness there was also suggestion by a large humanitarian a UN humanitarian organization last week that yes indeed if you're going to fly in a disaster area you you basically added a dedicated transponder to your to your UAV and yes we were talking about also markings signs and so on under UAVs as well I just don't want to I don't want to start with the technology I want to start with developing the actual processes and workflows around the coordination and then we see what kind of technology smart phone transponders sensors we can use to to improve the use of those processes plans be shared with in the case of Nepal this for those 15 UAB teams that were liaison with us not all of them i should mention share their flight plans but that was a whole ideas that they were sharing imagery flight plans and then we were getting humanitarian organizations asking for specific areas in terms of the imagery that they needed and we basically served as a as a liaison role between humanitarian organizations and UAV teams for the internal chat information with civil aviation authorities or military what about sent well and if you're flying you've asked or tasked yes so that's all what I mentioned in Vanuatu so those tenders operating procedures you so make it worked well there what about in a Paul didn't work mom no okay time for one last question any others okay hearing none all nuclear this is successful wrap up thanks very much really learned a lot thank you

Patrick Meier, Humanitarian UAV Network
Abi Weaver, American Red Cross
C.J. Guinness, Unity Development Group
Moderator: Craig Whitlock, Washington Post

Clear and secure rights to property—land, natural resources, and other goods and assets—are crucial to human prosperity. Most of the world’s population lack such rights. That lack is in part a consequence of political and social breakdowns, and in part driven by informational deficits. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, by virtue of their aerial perspective, are able to gather large amounts of information cheaply and efficiently, as can unpowered aerial platforms like kites and balloons.

That information, in the form of images, maps, and other environmental data, can be used by communities to improve the quality and character of their property rights. These same tools are also useful in other, related aspects of global development. Drone surveillance can help conservationists to protect endangered wildlife and aid scientists in understanding the changing climate; drone imagery can be used by advocates and analysts to document and deter human rights violations; UAVs can be used by first responders to search for lost people or to evaluate the extent of damage after natural disasters like earthquakes or hurricanes.

Earlier this year, New America launched a website, drones.newamerica.org, which comprises a database of such uses of drones, as well as the first comprehensive compilation of global drone regulations. In conjunction with this July 22nd Symposium, New America has published a primer that discusses the capabilities and limitations of unmanned aerial vehicles in advancing property rights, human rights and development more broadly. The primer contains both nuts-and-bolts advice to drone operators and policy guidance. The primer is available for download at drones.newamerica.org/primer.

This program is made possible by the support of Omidyar Network and Humanity United.

Follow the discussion online using #NewAmericaDrones and following @NatSecNAF.


New America is dedicated to the renewal of American politics, prosperity, and purpose in the digital age through big ideas, technological innovation, next generation politics, and creative engagement with broad audiences.

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