The image of the all-seeing dystopian drone is back in the public imagination. In the wake of COVID-19, reports of drones policing public spaces, enforcing social distancing guidelines, spraying disinfectant, and monitoring temperatures in a crowd have ignited imaginations and created concerns of the surveillance state.
However, these dystopian images are unlikely to come to fruition. The use of drones for functions such as public health monitoring or policing is at the concept stage, as public agencies look for new ideas in fighting the pandemic. Already we see many of these drone-use cases disregarded as impractical.
On the other hand, outside of the public eye, the industrial adoption of drones has been on the rise. Drones and drone software are currently reshaping how many well-established businesses run their operations in a post-pandemic world. From keeping agricultural fields intact to allowing utilities to “keep the lights on” for those sheltering at home, drone technology’s impact is undeniable.
Drones are already here, and not as public health hall monitors, but as the perfect socially-distanced worker for our essential industries.
The WFH Challenge for Field Workers
As a result of the pandemic, we’re seeing increased drone usage in primary and secondary industries, such as construction, agriculture, and utilities. Drone technology has become instrumental in helping companies return to work, all without putting employees at risk and enabling remote collaboration.
Industrial businesses have long faced challenges measuring progress in the field or on their job sites. For example, while farmers can track how many seeds they’ve planted, and what inputs they’ve applied, understanding the health and variability of crops across their 100-acre fields can be challenging. Similarly, for construction workers and project managers, understanding the progress, safety, and quality of more substantial commercial projects with hundreds of workers can be taxing. According to a 2016 report by McKinsey, agriculture and construction remain the least digitized of all industries.
These issues have now been compounded by shelter-at-home directives, as teams and contractors face reduced access to physical job sites. And despite the gradual lifting of these restrictions, companies and personnel still face risks and are devising new sets of best practices that prioritize worker health and safety amidst the ongoing pandemic.
Originally published by
Mike Winn - CEO and Co-founder, DroneDeploy | June 26, 2020
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