Patrick Meier: Crowdsourced Crisis Map of UAV/Aerial Videos for Disaster Response

Patrick Meier

Patrick Meier

Crowdsourced Crisis Map of UAV/Aerial Videos for Disaster Response

The first version of the Humanitarian UAV Network’s Crisis Map of UAV/aerial videos is now live on the Network’s website. The crowdsourced map features dozens of aerial videos of recent disasters. Like social media, this new medium—user-generated (aerial) content—can be used by humanitarian organizations to complement their damage assessments and thus improve situational awareness.

The purpose of this Humanitarian UAV Network (UAViators) map is not only to provide humanitarian organizations and disaster-affected communities with an online repository of aerial information on disaster damage to augment their situational awareness; this crisis map also serves to raise awareness on how to safely & responsibly use small UAVs for rapid damage assessments. This explains why users who upload new content to the map must confirm that they have read the UAViator‘s Code of Conduct. They also have to confirm that the videos conform to the Network’s mission and that they do not violate privacy or copyrights. In sum, the map seeks to crowdsource both aerial footage and critical thinking for the responsible use of UAVs in humanitarian settings.

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Jul 18

Patrick Meier: Using UAVs for Community Mapping & Disaster Risk Reduction — The Haiti Example

Patrick Meier

Patrick Meier

Using UAVs for Community Mapping and Disaster Risk Reduction in Haiti

“What if, to solve our problems, we simply need to rise above them?” CartONG and France’s OpenStreetMap (OSM) community recently teamed up to support OSM Haiti’s disaster risk reduction efforts by deploying a small UAV, “which proved very useful for participatory mapping.” The video documentary below provides an excellent summary of this humanitarian UAV mission which took place just a few weeks ago.

Click on Image to Enlarge

Click on Image to Enlarge

As I noted in this earlier blog post on grassroots UAVs, the use of UAVs at the community level can be viewed as an extension of community and participatory mapping, which is why community engagement is pivotal for humanitarian UAV deployments. In many ways, a micro-UAV can actually bring a community together; can catalyze conversations & participation, which should be taken as more than simply a positive externality. Public Participatory GIS Projects (PPGIS) have long been used as a means to catalyze community conversations and even conflict resolution and mediation. So one should not overlook the positive uses of UAVs as a way to convene a community. Indeed, as CartONG and partners rightly note in the above video documentary, “The UAV is the uniting tool that brings the community together.”

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Jul 10

Berto Jongman: Drone Report — No Thinking, Too Much Secrecy, War Without End …

Categories: Drones & UAVs
Berto Jongman

Berto Jongman

Use of Drones for Killings Risks a War Without End, Panel Concludes in Report

Mark Mazzetti

New York Times, 26 June 2014

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s embrace of targeted killings using armed drones risks putting the United States on a “slippery slope” into perpetual war and sets a dangerous precedent for lethal operations that other countries might adopt in the future, according to a report by a bipartisan panel that includes several former senior intelligence and military officials.

The group found that more than a decade into the era of armed drones, the American government has yet to carry out a thorough analysis of whether the costs of routine secret killing operations outweigh the benefits. The report urges the administration to conduct such an analysis and to give a public accounting of both militants and civilians killed in drone strikes.

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Jun 29

Patrick Meier: Comprehensive List of UAVs for Humanitarian Response

Categories: Drones & UAVs
Patrick Meier

Patrick Meier

Comprehensive List of UAVs for Humanitarian Response

The Humanitarian UAV Network (UAViators) is carrying out a comprehensive evaluation of UAVs and related technologies for use in humanitarian settings. We’ve developed an evaluation framework for this assessment and have now drafted this list of UAV models to determine which are worth evaluating. As you’ll note, the link also points to three other related lists: cameras, sensors and software for image processing and analysis. We’ll be evaluating these as well to identify which are the best fit for use by humanitarians in the field.

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Jun 25

Owl: Micro Drones for Assassination – A New Equalizer Between 1% and 99%?

Categories: Drones & UAVs
Who?  Who?

Who? Who?

The New Equalizer – A Genuine Game Changer: Kamikaze Assassination Micro Drones

The revolver was the great equalizer of the 19th and 20th centuries between individuals unequal in power or size, and perhaps, in the light of John Robb’s writings, guns of various kinds have been a great equalizer between guerilla fighters and much larger state forces. But what will be the great equalizer between the pubic and increasingly tyrannical states inflicting their police and military forces on the much weaker public? I believe this new analysis gives the answer: Kamikaze assassination micro drones.

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Jun 11

Patrick Meier: Learning from Conservation UAV Campaigns — with Comment on 21st Century Neighborhood Watch, Alternative ISR, Citizen Intelligence

Patrick Meier

Patrick Meier

What Humanitarians Can Learn from Conservation UAVs

I recently joined my fellow National Geographic Emergency Explorer colleague Shah Selbe on his first expedition of SoarOcean, which seeks to leverage low-cost UAVs for Ocean protection. Why did I participate in an expedition that seemingly had nothing to do with humanitarian response? Because the conservation space is well ahead of the humanitarian sector when it comes to using UAVs. To this end, we have a lot to learn from colleagues like Shah and others outside our field. The video below explains this further & provides a great overview of SoarOcean.

Video, post, other links.

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Jun 5

Patrick Meier: Humanitarian UAV Strategy

Categories: Drones & UAVs
Patrick Meier

Patrick Meier

Humanitarian UAV Network: Strategy for 2014-2015

The purpose of the Humanitarian UAV Network (UAViators) is to guide the responsible and safe use of small UAVs in humanitarian settings while promoting information sharing and enlightened policymaking. As I’ve noted in the past, UAVs are already being used to support a range of humanitarian efforts. So the question is not if, but rather how to facilitate the inevitable expanded use of UAVs in a responsible and safe manner. This is just one of many challenging questions that UAViators was created to manage.

UAViators has already drafted a number of documents, including a Code of Conduct and an Operational Check-List for the use of UAVs in humanitarian settings.

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Jun 3

Sepp Hasslberger: Drones that Save Lives – Made in … Iran

Categories: Drones & UAVs
Sepp Hasslberger

Sepp Hasslberger

Who would have thought it … drones that actually can save lives. Made in … Iran. 

We’ve seen how drones can be a crucial asset to search and rescue operations, but Iran’s RTS Lab has taken an entirely new angle. RTS’s Pars drone carries a payload of life preservers that can be delivered to a drowning swimmer far faster than a lifeguard.

As we saw in testing in the Caspian Sea, the drone can also work at night, using bright lights, biothermal sensors, and a built-in camera to stream video to rescuers on shore.

The concept works well, and it’s an excellent example of how powerful drones—which are cheaper and easier to use than just about any other aerial delivery vehicle—can actually be. Here in the US, where the FAA remains steadfast in its desire to squelch the nascent commercial drone industry, this Iranian drone built of Chinese parts sets an example of what can be done when we set our eyes to the skies to do good.

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May 18

David Swanson: Localities Reining in Federal Government – Sixth City Passes Anti-Drone Resolution

David Swanson

David Swanson

Leverett Becomes Sixth City to Pass Anti-Drone Resolution

Here are the other five.

Leverett and Amherst, Mass., both were expected to consider resolutions. I haven’t heard any news from Amherst.

The Leverett news is courtesy of Beth Adams.

I haven’t seen official text, but here’s some idea of what was passed, or at least what was considered for passage, in Leverett:

The Recorder:

Town meeting in Leverett will consider a resolution calling on the federal government to end the use of drones for assassinations on foreign soil and to enact regulations on the use of the unmanned aircraft in the United States.

It would ask U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey and U.S. Rep. James McGovern to bring forward legislation “to end the practice of extrajudicial killing by armed drone aircraft” by withholding money for that purpose and “to make restitution for injuries, fatalities and environmental damage resulting from the actions of the United States government, the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, allied nations and/or its private contractors.”

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May 7

Patrick Meier: Operational Checklist for Flying UAVs in Humanitarian Settings

Patrick Meier

Patrick Meier

An Operational Check-List for Flying UAVs in Humanitarian Settings

The Humanitarian UAV Network (UAViators) has taken off much faster than I expected. More than 240 members in 32 countries have joined the network since it’s launch just a few weeks ago.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the number of humanitarian organizations that got in touch with me right after the launch. Many of them are just starting to explore this space. And I found it refreshing that every single one of them considers the case for humanitarian UAVs to be perfectly obvious. Almost all of the groups also mentioned how they would have made use of UAVs in recent disasters. Some are even taking steps now to set up rapid-response UAV teams.

Click on Image to Enlarge

Click on Image to Enlarge

My number one priority after launching the network was to start working on a Code of Conduct to guide the use of UAVs in humanitarian settings—the only one of it’s kind as far as I know. While I had initially sought to turn this Code of Conduct into a check-list, it became clear from the excellent feedback provided by members and the Advisory Board that we needed two separate documents. So my RA’s and I have created a more general Code of Conduct along with a more detailed operational check-list for flying UAVs in humanitarian settings. You’ll find the check-list here. Big thanks to Advisory Board member Gene Robinson for letting me draw on his excellent book for this check-list. Both the Code of Conduct and Check-List will continue to be updated on a monthly basis, so please do chime in and help us improve them.

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Apr 30