Coronavirus Crisis: Pandemic Drones to Monitor Fever, Crowds From Above

With the effects of the Coronavirus drastically impacting communities largely in part due to people not following the social distancing guidelines, some states have turned to technology to attempt to flatten the curve. According to a report from ABC, states like New Jersey and Connecticut have deployed drones to monitor people’s social distancing and even their body temperatures to see if they’re sick.

“You”ll be seeing this very soon,” said Cameron Chell, CEO of Draganfly, one of the oldest commercial drone companies.

Chell said they’re facilitating pilot drone programs across the country this month, including one in the Tri-State Area.

“Where it’s most critically needed is where we’re going,” Chell said.

If the drones adhere to local and federal regulations, they can be flown anywhere as long as they hover 20 stories above where people are located on the ground to pick up real-time data.

“What these cameras can do is actually detect fever, which is very different than detecting just temperature,” Chell said. “They can detect sneezing. They can detect your heart rate, your respiratory rate, and they can also detect social distancing. So imagine, if you will, a situation where there’s a crowd, and you want to determine what’s the infection rate of the crowd and if they are practicing social distancing. Is this a hot spot that is a problem?”

As many critics will debate about privacy issues and another improper use of already faulty policing practices, the police departments promise it’s about safety instead of surveillance. In a Facebook post, the Elizabeth Police Department said it’s using its drones to “save lives” not to be “big brother.”