The drone industry has grown to become lucrative these days, and it is expected that it will continue to be on its way to becoming a profitable market. Every day, you can read articles discussing future projections, with investors pouring their money into numerous drone startups.

However, it is also not a secret that the use of drones is enshrouded with some concerns, especially regarding privacy and security. People are constantly worried and wary of those buzzing aerial nuisances seen flying over their residences. Indeed, it feels like there is still a long way to go when it comes to changing the perception of the general public about drones and how useful and helpful they can be in day to day activities.

Drones and Their Uses

There is so much to drones than being mere crafts hovering in the air. Through the years, both the government and the general public have seen, witnessed, and even experienced the benefits that drones have to offer. Here is a quick look at some of these uses:

Color photo of a drone in air with sunset in background; used to illustrate the meaning of drones and privacy concerns.
There is so much to drones than being mere crafts hovering in the air. | Photo credit: Pexels.
1. Providing cellular and wifi service during disasters

The Federal Aviation Administration or FAA gave their official approval on using drones to restore Puerto Rico’s cell service after Hurricane Maria devastated the country.

Drones used for the operations are named Flying Cell on Wings or COWs. These were made by AT & T to act similar to a flying cell tower. Once operational, the drones can quickly restore data, internet, and voice service to people who don’t have them following a big disaster like an earthquake or a hurricane.

In the next several years, hopefully, people will get to see more of such drones that can keep people connected even after disasters. This is a great way to change how things used to be where coverage loss is expected for weeks or sometimes, even months.

 

2. Assistance following storms and hurricanes

Back in the devastating season of hurricanes in 2017, drones also came to the rescue in numerous scenarios and locales. Drones helped in Houston after it was hit by Hurricane Harvey and also helped residents of Miami after Hurricane Irma.

These aerial crafts were also used to determine the location of the survivors of the hurricane that need rescuing. They also came handy in damage assessment and evaluation of routes to save those trapped in flood conditions. These can also be used for collecting vital information on status of areas that are otherwise impossible or difficult to reach.

In North Carolina, during Hurricane Matthew, a drone also helped in locating a man who was trapped inside his home during a flood that helped authorities rescue him.

 

3. Law enforcement

The United States’ police departments are now starting to include drones in their operations. Police officers use drones to help in damage assessment after fires, floods, and other similar natural disasters. They also use drones to develop detailed orthomosaic crime scene maps as well as places where a crime likely happened. They can then use this knowledge to respond fast to possible threats. These also assist in fugitive apprehension and accident reconstruction.

 

4. Locating and safely detonating land mines

Drones often feature an RGB sensor, infrared, and a thermal meter together with a camera with mechanical shutter with the ability of taking high resolution photos. These can work through detecting land mines even from a distance. The moment the area is cleared, they can then drop a small bomb for safely destroying the land mind.

 

5. Saving lives during search and rescue missions

Time is of the essence during search and rescue scenarios. When a person gets lost in the middle of the woods during harsh weather, the chances of survival depends on how long they stay there before rescuers find him. A drone helps search and rescue teams in finding people fast with the use of aerial thermography to determine heat signatures. They do it more effectively and quickly compared to a team of people doing the search on the ground. Drones also help get an aerial view of the place where a search and rescue mission should take place to serve as a guide for people working on the ground.

 

Color photo of a mans' hand holding a drone in the air, used to illustrate the meaning of drones and privacy concerns.
It flies away but you don’t know who operates it and why it even found its way to your yard. | Photo credit: Pexels.
Drones and Privacy Concerns

You are enjoying lounging in your backyard then a drone suddenly flies overhead. The craft hovers and its camera adjusts and looks straight at you. It flies away but you are still wondering who operates it and why it even found its way to your yard.

While today’s drone technology needs a human to oversee its safe operation and perform some input, its autonomous abilities continue to get better and better. While it is important for people to be aware of the privacy concerns related to government and commercial use of drones, there are also numerous privacy issues associated to their recreational use.

Trust issues

The remote and aerial capabilities break the connections that humans expect to have with every person they encounter in the public space. It also undermines a person’s capacity to measure trust, identify the best resource, and assess context. It is also likely for drones to cause issues both with accountability and transparency. Drone technology weakens transparency as it is possible for the pilot to operate a drone even from a distance. It also eliminates accountability since aside from the fact that you don’t know who operates the drone, it is almost impossible to talk to the drone’s operator, and the people right under the drone may not be able to just walk away. All of these issues will continue to grow together with the continuous growth and improvement of the artificial intelligence used in drones.

Legislation

One more privacy concern about drones has something to do with legislation response. The FAA has already taken a firm stand against regulating drone related privacy. What they did instead is to inform hobbyist and commercial operators of the importance of known federal, state, and local laws in relation to privacy prior to flying their drones.

 

Drones may be useful but there will always be problems when it comes to privacy. Hopefully, things change for the better in the next few years with both the drone aficionados and the general public coming to terms with safe and secure ways of flying drones. The video below discusses some property rights questions that are associated with drone use.

 

 

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Drones – Their Usage and Privacy Concerns

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