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Police Launch Drones To Monitor Pandemic From The Air

Westport police have partnered with Draganfly to launch the "Flatten the Curve Pilot Program" in Connecticut.

Westport, CT – Westport police are helping a tech company test out a new “pandemic drone” that can monitor people for symptoms of coronavirus from 190 feet away.

Draganfly Inc., a Canadian drone company, put out a video news release on Tuesday announcing that the company had partnered with a Connecticut police department to test out their new drone technology.

Draganfly Chairman and CEO Cameron Chell explained in the video what exactly the new monitoring drones can and cannot do.

Chell said the new “pandemic drone” could detect sneezing, coughing, and breathing and heart rates, from almost 200 feet away from a person.

He said the drones would be equipped with special sensors and computer vision systems that would even display body temperatures of people it scanned during flight.

Chell said the drones will not collect information about the identities of the people scanned, but rather would provide anonymized data for the purpose of helping public safety officials know how social distancing is working.

He said it would also serve as an early warning system.

“One of the major problems for cities and towns like Westport in managing and responding to a pandemic like the COVID-19 virus, is finding out who could be infected and how widespread the disease has spread,” Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe said in a statement, according to WVIT.

“One way to do this is to look for underlying symptoms,” Marpe explained. “By teaming up with Draganfly and the UniSA team led by Defence Chair of Sensor Systems Professor Javaan Chahl, we are able to remotely look at valuable lifesaving data and better manage current and future health emergencies.”

Westport police said the department’s goal in deploying the “pandemic drones” was to provide better monitoring support for at-risk groups and crowds gathering at beaches, train stations, parks, recreation areas, and shopping centers, according to WVIT.

Police said the initiative, dubbed the “Flatten the Curve Pilot Program,” uses no facial recognition technology and will not be deployed over private yards.

“Using drones remains a go-to technology for reaching remote areas with little to no manpower required. Because of this technology, our officers will have the information and quality data they need to make the best decision in any given situation,” Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas said, according to WVIT.

Sandy Malone - April Tue, 2020


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