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Safety or surveillance: drones and the COVID-19 pandemic


Police departments in the. Us have started using drones as a way to try to deal with the Kobe. Nineteen crisis in California Florida and new. Jersey officials have used drones to get messages to homeless communities or warn people to stay apart and respect social distancing but some drone companies are making even bigger claims that they can remotely detect fever for example or use facial recognition to see if. Someone's wearing a mask. And those kinds of claims have civil rights groups concerned Ryan. Kahlo is a professor of law at the University of Washington who studies emerging tech and policy. He said it's good. That people are thinking creatively but I think that the use of a drone is going to make people feel uncomfortable. The place I really think is problematic is trying to us. Drone technology coupled with artificial intelligence to try to figure out if people are far enough away from one another or to try to figure out whether people are sick while it might be technically lawful if you have the right license to do it to use drones to keep people apart that it contributes to an already anxious environment. It can be a distraction and especially. I wouldn't take it to surveillance when you say drums that claim they can tell if people are sick. Is this the the thing where companies claim? They're drones can sense. The body temperature of people they're hovering over. There's no shortage of people out there selling technical snake oil at any time. These systems have already been deployed in places like grocery stores and airports. And what these devices are. Detecting is unlikely really to correlate for for what you're what you're looking for and is likely to lead to many false positives and negatives again you already have a group of people who are who are anxious who are concerned and then to to put some inscrutable flying robot in the mix just strikes me as profoundly unwise however even if it's not drowned we do seem to be seeing a steady march toward surveillance. How much are you worried that? This is going to be an excuse to implement all kinds of surveillance. I'm very worried I mean so. So it's interesting because there are a number of efforts to try to create an APP that you can just download on your phone. That's supposed to keep you safe and that the idea would be if I knew if you went near anybody that had tested positive for virus you get a Ping and that somehow this is going to be a tool that can get us out of our houses and without risking infection so either you might be reassured that there's no instance of Corona virus in your community when in fact there is or conversely. You might be cowering at home because every couple of days you get a ping telling you you need to self quarantine and so. I think that there's a big difference between using TAC as part of the solution and falling back on tech solution them. However you gotta think that the ladder is an opportunity for tech companies who have come out in force and said we have A. We have an APP for that. We have a a camera. We haven't artificial intelligence algorithm that can more accurately predict the movements of the crowds. Should we ignore all of that? Or are you saying they're some of that could be good but we gotta be careful. I think that some set of companies are looking to their own data and asking questions. Like how can we be useful? So for example Kenza. Which is that thermometer. that's connected. That purports to tell you where there is a spike in fevers. Your they WANNA be useful with that data according to the testimony of their CEO. At a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that I also testified at. They want to be useful with that data and it could be a tool it has. It has some problems in some perils but then conversely you have situations where it seems at least to me personally that companies are just responding to social pressure especially from the White House to do something. You're innovative. You have all this data you have all this attention of the public. Do something and that. These companies are doing whatever they can to discharge their obligation and to and to get rid of the pressure to do something without actually confronting any of the hard problems. And so I think both are going on right. Even sometimes within the same company the mobility reports that Google was doing we're useful but conversely when Google teamed up with Apple to create a framework or an API for contact tracing APPs. They really did kick a lot of the hard issues down down the road and they created an architecture that might be privacy friendly being that it is decentralized but doesn't solve a lot of the hard problems that trying to use. Apps to automate contact tracing create. I think both you know I think. Sometimes companies are legitimately trying to look at the data. Say how we can help. Other companies are trying to do something so that they look like they're doing something and still others are selling snake oil that whole ecosystem is out there. Rank as low is a professor of law at the University of Washington. Police departments in Florida and Connecticut said they have considered using drones that claim they can remotely detect fevers high blood pressure heart rate and breathing rate. Say they've put those plans on hold for now over privacy concerns

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