One liner summary: If you are interested in applying drone/UAV technology (or are already doing so) to humanitarian/social/conservation related problems, and you live in the UK. then get in touch.
I have worked with drones quite extensively in the past, including some work with the BBC, and still do in various ways now. I have to say, though, that I dislike the term drone and much prefer to use the term UAV or UAS. But that’s a different story.
I have also always had an interest in international development, social issues, and education. This has led to me running numerous Random Hacks of Kindness events, giving talks on ICT4D, and volunteering as a STEM Ambassador. I recently organized a NodeCopter event with the local Makerspace and have talked about UAV technology to groups as diverse as 11-13 year olds to The Ladies Luncheon Club where the average age is 65.
Inspired by the recent DroneConference in the US, a coffee with the founder of ShadowView, and the enthusiasm of the UAV guy at Doctors Without Borders, I am now looking to reach out to similar minded people and see if maybe we can set up a Drone User Group chapter here in the UK? Founded in the US by Timothy Reuter, their tagline is: Promoting the Use of Civilian Drone Technology for the Benefit of Humanity. They also recently announced a drone social impact award. I contacted Timothy and he was very supportive of the idea.
Thing is, maybe there is already a good network/group out there covering this space? The last thing I want to do is duplicate work and effort. I know Anish has been active in this area, e.g., there was a Drone Zone conference two years ago and there is an (active?) DroneZone meetup. I know about Drones4Good, OpenRelief, and a couple of others. There is also the AUVSI, and its Foundation. They have a chapter in the UK but don’t seem active and so far I have had little luck in getting in touch with the community. If you have connections to AUVSI UK do let me know. Finally, there is also Ant Miller from the BBC running a Drones in Broadcasting event in the UK, and the upcoming Inventorthon in Oxford organized by the Satellite Applications Catapult.
However, is there something linking these people/groups together (in the UK) with a focus on the social good? Would something like a Drone User Group chapter even be useful or necessary? I like the idea of taking our skills and technology out into the local community and doing something for the better. Would people be interested in a “Drones for good” kind of conference / regular meetup enabling UAV people, entrepreneurs, NGOs, … to share ideas and experiences? I have my hands more than full with a full time job, a crazy commute, family life, rhok.org, the Research Software Engineering community, and organizing the London Big-O Algorithms meetup group. Thus I can’t (nor would I want to) pursue any of this on my own. But more than happy to connect and join forces.
So lets chat. What do you think? Does any of this interest you in any way? Am I talking rubbish? What and who do I not know about? I would love to hear from you.