The very mention of drones brings goose bumps, fear, panic or other similar reactions from most of us who could be on the receiving end. Rightly so, as Medea Benjamin has said that the very sound of them buzzing overhead has caused severe physiological disturbances in many who have been subjected to their incessant surveillance and the perceived possibility of sudden annihilation from a hellfire missile… I would go a step further and say that even the images and videos of a UAV designed to deliver a pizza on your backyard somehow appears sinister. We could always blame the creators of Star Wars for this paranoia. On the flip side is the attempt at harnessing their abilities for monitoring and rendering humanitarian aid during a natural disaster. The collaboration between George Mason University and Carbon Project is working towards cloud-based tools for guiding mapping satellites or small UAVs during natural disasters based on information from social media posts. I am sure they will offer an app which can summon a drone on call before first responders do. The very belief that someone can see you and hence the hope of help reaching exists will do its bit towards changing the perceptions about UAVs or drones.
Published as editorial in Geospatial World Weekly Ezine – 20 Jan 2014