Humanitarian Drone Missions: Towards Best Practices

The purpose of the handbook below is to promote the safe, coordinated and effective use of UAVs in a wide range of humanitarian settings. The handbook draws on lessons learned during recent humanitarian UAV missions in Vanuatu (March-April 2015) and Nepal (April-May 2015) as well as earlier UAV missions in both Haiti and the Philippines.

I wrote this handbook for the following reasons: UAV/Drone experts who engage in relief efforts without prior experience in this domain often assume that they know everything because, heck, they are the experts when it comes to this new technology. Likewise, although to a lesser extent, disaster response groups think they are the experts when it comes to Humanitarian UAV/Drone Missions since, heck, they've been doing disaster response longer than anyone else. These kinds of assumptions backfired big time in response to the Nepal Earthquake. The purpose of this handbook is to educate and raise awareness in order to prevent the circus act we saw in Nepal.

The handbook takes the form of an operational checklist divided into Pre-flight, In-flight and Post-flight sections. The best practices documented in each section are meant to serve as a minimum set of guidelines only. As such, this document is not the final word on best practices, which explains why the handbook is available here as an open, editable Google Doc. We invite humanitarian, UAV and research communities to improve this handbook and to keep our collective best practices current by inserting key comments and suggestions directly to the Google Doc. Both hardcopies and digital copies of this handbook are available for free and may not in part or in whole be used for commercial purposes. 

Click here for more information on the Humanitarian UAV Network.

Views: 614

Comment by Thomas J Coyle III on June 2, 2015 at 10:17am


There is nothing like guidance to stay the course.



Comment by SkyRover on June 2, 2015 at 6:08pm

I love seeing how much you learned, and were open to admitting what went wrong with UAVs in a real world humanitarian setting. Definitely the first and most important step to improving and integrating UAVs with situations like this. I see far too often stagnation and refusal to admit fault or anything that could imply it in the search and rescue as well as other humanitarian organizations. Too many people out there think they have it figured out and their way is best. 

I think Uaviators is going to have a huge impact. Keep up the good work!

Comment by Randy on June 2, 2015 at 7:37pm

Yeah, great work.  I met up with Eugene from SkyCatch at a drone conference in Japan and we discussed what a great job you were doing coordinating people.  Rock on.

Comment by Vladimir "Lazy" Khudyakov on June 3, 2015 at 12:48am

Thanks, great job

Comment by German Callejas Hernandez on June 3, 2015 at 3:38am
Great Work!!!


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