Police in Westport, Connecticut recently announced that they will be testing a “pandemic drone” that can scan the body temperatures of people in the area to determine if they possess fever conditions or other health symptoms in an attempt to battle the Wuhan virus.
Aerospace company Draganfly revealed in a news release that the drones will have specialized sensor and computer vision systems that can show heart and respiratory rates. According to police, they can also detect people coughing in crowds.
“One of the major problems for cities and towns like Westport in managing and responding to a pandemic like the COVID-19 virus, is finding out who could be infected and how widespread the disease has spread,” stated Westport First Selectman, Jim Marpe. “One way to do this is to look for underlying symptoms.”
Westport is located in Fairfield County and is viewed as the epicenter for the virus outbreak in Connecticut. It’s Connecticut’s closest county to New York City and has nearly half of Connecticut’s 20,360 confirmed cases, per data from Johns Hopkins University.
Police stated that the aim of the program is to provide better health monitoring support for groups potentially at risk, namely the elderly or individuals with preexisting health conditions.
Police also have plans of monitoring how residents are practicing social distancing in public spaces where groups may be gathering, including beaches, train stations, parks, and shopping centers. The release noted that the technology can detect several infectious conditions from 190-feet away.
“The Westport Police Department along with first responders around the world are looking for effective ways to ease the spread of COVID-19 and keep their communities safe,” announced Westport Chief of Police, Foti Koskinas.
“This technology not only enhances the safety of our officers and the public, but the concept of using drones remains a go-to technology for reaching the most remote areas with little to no manpower needed.”
The drone technology that the Westport Police Department is testing is part of their “Flatten the Curve Pilot Program.”
Because of potential privacy concerns, police asserted that the drone won’t enter individual private yards and it doesn’t employ facial recognition technology.