A few days ago the scheme to utilize COVID-19 detecting drones as well as implementing social distancing precautions in the US has been delayed. As there are some privacy concerns, it appears that residents of Westport, Connecticut which was going to release a pilot program, have opposed the project.
According to last week’s report, the drones of the Dragonfly were being tried in the US. Specialized onboard thermal sensors are utilized in the devices. And to check the temperature, respiratory, and heart rates of the people from a distance of 190 feet, a smart computer vision system is also used which possibly assists in detecting those infected with the coronavirus. Also, these drones have the ability to assess social distancing between individuals as well as identify people coughing and sneezing in crowds.
Australia has already selected these COVID-19 detecting drones to assist the slow speed of coronavirus. The Westport Police Department (WPD) was testing these drones in the US. However, the people were disturbed with these drones according to them they are violating their privacy.
According to a report by Westport News, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Connecticut increased privacy concerns about the UAVs, it also stated that public money might be better to use on other measures to fight coronavirus. Moreover, the scheme caused a small number of protestors to collect outside of the local police department.
The executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut, David McGuire stated,
“We are not hearing a cry for new surveillance technologies,”
“The urgent need at the moment, according to public health experts, is to ramp up testing capability, suppress transmission through social distancing measures, and support our hospitals as they face an influx of patients.”
Although, the drones do not gather personal data of the individuals and also do not utilize facial recognition technology. However, it seems an eye over the heads is a bit too horrifying for many people even in case it is for their own good.
The First Selectman Marpe od the WPD in a Facebook post stated that in the department’s
“good faith effort to get ahead of the virus and potential need to manage and safely monitor crowds and social distancing in this environment, our announcement [to trial the drones] was perhaps misinterpreted, not well-received, and posed many additional questions.”
According to a protestor who’d press charges that the drones could, “direct individuals to being pointlessly harassed,” stated:
“The decision by the Westport Police Department to scrap their drone program is a victory for the people. And civil liberties, especially in a time of overreach.”
Foti Koskinas Chief of WPD didi did not seem to exclude future utilize of the technology in some form, stating it could still become “a useful life-saving tool.”
According to Draganfly, it was functioning with other groups around the US that are involved in utilizing its drones. Whether it comes into protests in these areas that remain to be observed.