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In Europe’s Fight Against COVID-19, Drones Rise to the Challenge

On March 14 of 2020, the city of Wuhan, China, took a monumental step in the fight against COVID-19 by closing the last temporary hospital built to treat virus patients. In the days that followed, local authorities also began removing checkpoints and easing restrictions on the unprecedented lockdown that ultimately lasted for 76 days.

An 11-week lockdown should indicate just how immense China’s battle against COVID-19 has been. During this fight, the use of drone technology was a highly valuable asset for Chinese public safety officials. These aerial tools were used for broadcasting public information and to disperse gatherings, measure the body temperature of citizens, and much more.

 

Sharing Insights and Experiences From the Global Community

As infection rates and the number of deaths continue to rise throughout Europe, authorities have been replicating some of the public safety measures taken in China. Along with a series of lockdowns that vary in severity from region to region, drone technology is playing a key role for public safety officials on Europe’s frontlines.

As lockdowns became more restrictive in countries such as Italy, Spain, and France, the Mavic 2 Enterprise turned into a common tool for local authorities who have utilized its transmission range and loudspeakers to broadcast safety messages to people gathered in public places. 

In Turin, Italy, for example, the Mavic 2 Enterprise Zoom was used by local police to check major public parks and plazas for pedestrians. They even employed the Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual, with its thermal camera, to check these locations after dark. The Mayor of Turin, Chiara Appendino, found this technology so helpful that she wrote a letter thanking DJI for their help in the city’s fight against the virus.

 

 

“I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to your company for the great support and help provided in this crucial moment of concern,” said Appendino in the letter of thanks to DJI. And she added: “The sudden outbreak of the virus has changed our habits and is still affecting a high number of people in our city and our region. We’re paying particular attention to controlling and preventing the epidemic with all our efforts, and we are implementing several measures to achieve it so as to be able to overcome this crisis as soon as possible.”

Drones were also put to use in the city of Nice, where Drone 06, a French company specialized in the production of high-definition aerial images, assisted police using their expertise to disperse gatherings on the Promenade des Anglais. 

 

 

According to Jean Baptiste Pietri, Associate Director of Drone 06, “Drones allow security professionals to be very reactive and mobile to cover large areas without taking risks or requesting a lot of human resources.” Pietri also thinks that drone technology encourages people to respect quarantine measures. “Our first mission is to inform and warn, but people know that if they don’t respect the rules, they will be quickly spotted.” 

Given the successful results of Drone 06’s operations in Nice, they were assigned to help in other areas with an official schedule and road map that allowed them to work closely with police on the ground. “The police authorities were really happy and enthusiastic about using drones in this way. Globally, we’ve seen really positive reactions from people. They understood what’s being done and how drones can help,” said Pietri.

 

 

Contactless Solution Answers Key Challenge to COVID-19 

Other countries across Europe, such as Belgium, Austria, and Germany, are also deploying drones to monitor whether their populations are abiding by the strict lockdowns implemented in response to the pandemic. 

Some drone innovators are experimenting with other ways for drone technology to help combat the coronavirus. In Italy and Ireland, companies have tried using drones to deliver food, medicine and insulin to vulnerable people or in remote locations without human contact. In Spain, authorities have tried using the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual drone’s thermal imaging camera to measure temperatures of potentially infected people without requiring others to get close to them. While this use has not been scientifically studied or proven to offer a benefit, it vividly illustrates how drones can offer creative solutions to potentially life-threatening challenges.

 

 

“Drones have already proven to be an important tool in the global fight against COVID-19 in a variety of ways, allowing public safety officials to do vital work more efficiently from a safe distance,” said Romeo Durscher, Senior Director of Public Safety Integration at DJI. “Police and other first responders are able to monitor crowds, spot unsafe activities, broadcast information and messages over airborne loudspeakers, and also respond to their other calls while staying at a safe distance and freeing up personnel for other actions. DJI is glad to see creative, life-saving, and health-preserving drone uses emerging all over the world, and we’re glad to help public safety agencies as they adapt drones for these unprecedented challenges.”

 

 

P.S. – Learn more about how DJI is using its agricultural drones for disease control and prevention in this article about how DJI Agras drones are helping to combat malaria in Zanzibar.