By Arielle Mullen

Over the last year, drones of nearly every kind, whether for personal or military use, have been in the news a lot. Many people were disappointed when the FAA decided that starting December 21, 2015, if a drone weighed more than .55lbs and less than 55lbs, they would need to be registered. However you felt about the FAA’s decision, it’s clear that with the influx of new drone technology on the market, it’s a burgeoning field with new uses constantly being discovered.

One such area that’s benefitting greatly, is disaster relief and humanitarian response. Workshops and conferences are popping up all over the place to discuss how Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can aid in efforts to help those who are negatively affected by natural disasters. This seems especially timely in light of the recent earthquake in Ecuador that claimed more than 480 lives.

Some of the practical applications for these UAVs include delivery of medical supplies to remote communities, or mapping of environmental sites to track erosion, which could help predict a natural disaster before it strikes.

InSTEDD, a group that designs and uses open source technology tools to help deliver services to vulnerable populations, put together this video to help illustrate the necessity of exploring questions about the use of drones in humanitarian response. 

As the UAV market develops, it seems clear that it's up to industry leaders to help guide the course for how the technology will develop, and what it will be used for. 



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