A new study by Vodafone shows that over four in five British people would support the use of drones by emergency services, provided they were strictly regulated
Vodafone’s new report, which assessed 2,000 people, suggests that 86% of Brits would support the use of drones as part of an emergency service response, provided they were beter regulated.
Similarly, 79% would support the use of drones by police and 61% said they would be happy for drones to be used for environmental conservation.
“Drones can provide crucial information to emergency services responding to incidents. They can assess fires, deliver medical supplies and help businesses survey hazardous conditions such as construction sites, power lines and our own mobile masts quicker and more safely,” said Vodafone chief executive Nick Jeffery.
In the report, Vodafone proposed the creation of a “blue light” drone fund for emergency services.
However, for all their potential benefits, rogue drones remain a major security issue.
Gatwick Airport was notably forced to close for a day in December 2018 due to a drone in the airspace and this type of incident will only become more frequent as drone availability and affordability increases.
But Vodafone has a solution. The company has suggested that drones should be equipped with SIM cards to give them cellular connectivity, therefore extending their range beyond the pilot’s line of sight and giving them a way of remotely disabling the device.
It also suggested developing an Unmanned Traffic Management (UMT) system to co-ordinate drone flights with other airspace users.
Whether such ideas will gain footing remains to be seen. New regulations were introduced in late 2019 requiring owners of drones weighing more than 250g to sign a register or pay a fine, but it is still fair to say that the field of drone regulation is very much in its infancy.
At an economic level, widespread drone adoption could have a huge impact on UK GDP, with some studies predicting their use could add as much as £42 billion by 2030.
Drone delivery, in particular, has been proposed by companies like Amazon for a number of years, but the logistics of such a move would be staggering, particularly with the current state of regulation.
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