How DJI drones are battling the COVID-19 pandemic

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As the battle against COVID-19 continues to stretch resources, DJI has been offering its drones to public agencies like police departments to help out. The company is making 100 drones available in the US to help with logistics and providing information to the public. Here are some of the main ways DJI says it’s helping out.

Assessing crowds

Photography remains the key service that most drones provide (at least until deliveries take off). Drones can stream live video to AI analytics software such as Unleash Live. These applications can assess crowd density and trigger alerts if areas of a city become too crowded for social distancing. Or they can spot people violating stay-at-home orders.

Alerting the public

Drones equipped with loudspeakers can send alerts to inform the people about social distancing and stay-at-home rules. Daytona Beach, FL for instance, uses a pair of Mavic 2 Enterprise drones to alert the public about park closures. This allows it to reach the public without sending an officer into potential virus hotspots.

Monitoring crime

Crime prevention remains a key duty for law enforcement. The pandemic’s deserted streets and shuttered businesses are an invitation for criminals. A single police drone operator can observe a wide area on the lookout for suspicious activity. The Memorial Village Police Department in Houston TX, for instance, flies pre-planned, automated drone missions that allow officers to focus on spotting signs of crime.

Delivering medical supplies

Drone deliveries have been slow to take off in the United States, and DJI has not played a key role here. (The first major services have been Alphabet’s Wing and a collaboration between UPS and Matternet.)

But DJI has been active in other countries. A hospital in Naples, Italy, for instance, tested deliveries of blood samples, medicine, and other supplies using a DJI Matrice 210 V2 in November. Last summer, a pilot program in the Dominican Republic made 101 deliveries of blood samples and medical supplies between regional and local hospitals using a DJI Matrice 600 Pro.

In the COVID-19 era, drones can be key to moving information and material without person-to-person contact. If there is any upshot to the current crisis, it may be its role in accelerating the adoption of drone technology to enhance public safety.

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