DRONES are being used to monitor public spaces as a major new tool to slow coronavirus spread across the US.
Public health and safety groups have started using drones to enforce social distancing rules and to scan people's temperatures to identify potential cases.
The drones can detect social distancing, body temperature, heart rate, and even when people cough, but apparently "don't identify individuals".
Canadian company Draganfly announced that it is in talks with private companies in the Seattle area and could be coming to the Pacific Northwest within months.
The CEO of Draganfly, Cameron Chell, says seeing drones in the sky is about to become much more common.
“We’re going to see this deployed on-scale across the United States in a couple of months," he told WPXI.
Infrared technology on drones is already being used by first responders and Fire and Rescue to search for people who are missing.
ALREADY IN USE
Draganfly stated there is no facial recognition in the technology, and the information isn’t tied to any one person.
The drones can, however, be used to scan a crowd and figure out if a higher percentage of people than normal have fevers or are coughing, providing leaders with real-time data to help make decisions.
Chell said: “Is it 0.2% today and 0.8% tomorrow? And is there social distancing happening there, and do we need to put more signage? Do we need to social distance this week or back it off?”
“Unfortunately, the decisions we’re asking public officials to make right now is based on data that’s looking backwards.”
FLORIDIANS AND NEW YORKERS TOLD OFF BY DRONE
In Daytona Beach, Florida, drones are already in the sky patrolling beaches and telling residents off via speakers that blare: “Because of COVID-19, this park is currently closed”.
There was a similar incident in a New York park in April.
The police department in Daytona Beach said it has tested but not deployed the temperature scanning technology.
In other countries, such as Columbia, the drones’ full capabilities are used to scan crowds.
Drones spray disinfectant in South Korea and warn residents to keep their distance in China.
Some people say they’re open to the idea of “pandemic drones" to maintain social distancing rules.
Ariel Eccetturo said: “If everybody wants everything to get back to normal and we want to get back to our lives, then it’s probably best we do something like that.”
However privacy advocates have said that they would feel invaded and have expressed concerns about where the line is on monitoring the public and other law enforcement uses.
Chell wouldn't say which cities or companies they are working with to launch their drones across the US.
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