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Ten sectors that can leverage drones to spur growth

By Noel Wandera
Tuesday, April 27th, 2021
Drone. Photo/Courtesy
In summary

Kenya Civil Aviation Authority early this month legalised use of unmanned aerial vehicles, otherwise known as drones, opening up a wide range commercial and humanitarian possibilities. Below are 10 sectors that will be angling to leverage the drone technology applications.

1. Security services: As first responders, drones are becoming a vital tool for police officers.

In Kenya, the police are using the unmanned aerial vehicles, with their high density cameras, to monitor movement from a distance along the busy Thika-Garissa highway, thus enhance the directive of cessation of movement in and out of the Nairobi Metropolitan area and enforcing Covid-19 lockdown along out of the Nairobi Metropolitan area.

Agricultural sector: Drones can be used to analyse diseases through normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI), a simple graphical indicator that can be used to analyse remote sensing measurements, often from a space, assessing whether or not the target being observed contains live green vegetation.

NDVI images may be able to prescribe fertilizer applications, estimate yields and identify weeds.

Tourism: Since 2011, drones have been used in wildlife protection programs, policing vast tracts of land to catch poachers.

Instead of having park rangers go out after dark to try to catch heavily armed bandits, drone pilots patrol the targeted areas, collecting data used to predict the poachers’ movements knowing that well-lit full-moon nights are particularly dangerous.

Insurance sector:  Major insurance companies are now experimenting with drones to access difficult positions like damaged roofs owing to hailstorms by hiring outside contractors.

They are assisting claims adjusters by saving on time and money, while reducing the risks of climbing ladders and walking on damaged roofs.

This, however, might not translate to lower insurance premiums for customers. This application could be widespread very soon.

Weather forecasting: One of the most important applications where drones are being used is to take measurements of the lowest layer of the earth’s atmosphere, what scientists refer to as the boundary layer.

Scientists are now employing them to gather critical information on how temperature, moisture, and wind evolve within the boundary layer under different weather conditions.

Doing this helps them to better understand the atmosphere for better forecast.

Housing sector:  Drones are exceedingly effective at finding structural flaws. They are not only quick in taking efficient high-resolution images and laser scans, but can also get up close in treacherous spaces, such as the underside of say, an offshore drilling rig or the top of a cell tower.

The bottom line is inspection crews are already putting drones to use, and the scope of those efforts will increase as regulations get sorted out.

7. Humanitarian aid: According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), between 1.3 billion and 2.1 billion people have no access to essential medicines globally.

However, drones are bridging the gap, delivering medical supplies in countries beset by malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS.

In Rwanda, for example, a health centre can send a text message to order blood for a patient and it is delivered via parachute within 40 minutes.

Package delivery:  About 86 per cent of online retailer ships weigh less than 5 kilogrammes, hence lightweight enough to be delivered by a drone.

It is a space that online e-commerce platforms in Kenya like Jumia and Glovo, might want to exploit in future, using autonomous aircraft that can drop a book or a pair of shoes at your home within 30 minutes of receiving an order.

9. Sports sector:  For those involved in coaching, watching a match or training session from the touchline seems normal.

However, certain aspects of the game may be distorted or hidden from view leading to misinterpretation or poor analysis of a situation.

The benefits of football drone coaching are clear, as the aerial positioning gives better angles from which to observe movement, positioning, and space within a game.10

10. Film and news:  Drones are able to open up unachievable angles. For instance, wedding photographers are often seen running around in an attempt to get the best angle.

They can be used to simulate views that would be seen by any type of aircraft or creature, including spacecraft and superheroes.

They can land, take off, hover and crash. Drone aerial photography services are also changing the way we view the news.

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