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Leveraging drone technology in the fight against COVID-19

In the absence of a viable vaccine to prevent the spread of the infectious COVID-19 disease, we can only rely on social-distancing, self-quarantining, and isolation, to slow down the rapid transmission of it. Governments the world over are left with no choice, but to implement a strict lockdown to bring the situation under control, say Arun Rishi Kapoor and Anand Chandrashaker of Infosys BPM.

While countries, and the businesses therein go under a mandatory lockdown, the global economy is bearing the brunt. Mitigating this impact will require robust technology support.

Drones, for instance, can help reduce the negative impact of the COVID-19 crisis dramatically. However, due to its low adoption, several countries have missed out on the potential of drone technology. From speedy delivery at peak hours to screening an unreachable location, drones are increasingly demonstrating higher work efficiency and productivity.

Below are some of the use cases of drones in the current crisis situation.

Delivery services

As governments have imposed a lockdown and have directed people to venture out only in case of an emergency, online services are the only resort for ordering essentials such as groceries and medicines. However, the supply crunch has left online services high and dry.

To support “social-distancing” guidelines, drones can be useful in delivering medicines and food items to people’s homes, while adhering to “zero-touch” rules. Drones of different shapes and sizes can be used to deliver products based on the volume of the packaged goods. For example, cargo drones can expedite delivery of 250 kilograms of N95 masks, sanitizers, and first-aid kits, to the affected areas.

Spray services

The agricultural sector has been using drones for the last few years to air spray disinfectants and fertilisers on crops. The same technology can be made use of in the current situation. Drones can be used to spray disinfectants on the streets and outside buildings to ensure comprehensive cleaning procedures. They can also be used as the first response tool for fire-fighters and local municipal workers, who are having to put their lives in danger, while they assist government authorities in fighting COVID-19.

Surveillance services

The surveillance drones used today to check against terrorist and extremist activities, can be leveraged for our fight against COVID-19 also. They can track violations of the social-distancing norms, street crimes, coughing attacks, etc., in real-time. These can be easily dealt with by scheduled drone patrols in any given area. The live video feed can be examined for actionable insights.

Punjab police in India for instance, have intensified surveillance against violators of the imposed curfew by deploying drones, covering an area of 10 districts in two days. Effective surveillance can be put in place to assist migrant workers also, who are struggling to return to their homes outside the cities. The surveillance drones can provide real-time, precise, and reliable information to security forces, helping them take informed decisions in a timely manner.

Apart from the industrial uses of drones in the times of Coronavirus, the technology can also be used to bring emotional support to individuals holed up in their houses in a lockdown. Drone-powered solutions in entertainment can play an important role in tackling signs of loneliness and depression. Drone formations, animated sculptures, drone-launched fireworks, and light paintings are some of the ways in which people can collaborate, stay creative, and have fun, even in a lockdown situation.

This article was originally published in The Evolving Enterprise. Read it here.