Test of pandemic drones ends before it starts!

Draganfly X4-P

WESTPORT, CT, USA — The town is ending its participation in a controversial “pandemic drone” program to suss out potential coronavirus patients after an outcry from residents and others who complained that the initiative infringed on people’s privacy rights…

Westport’s police department had teamed up with a Canadian company named Draganfly on the initiative…

Under the program, the department’s drones were outfitted with Draganfly’s specialized sensors and computer vision systems that measured a person’s fever, temperature, heart and respiratory rates from as far as 190 feet in the air, Draganfly claimed. The technology also detected people sneezing and coughing in crowds.

Soon after the announcement of the program, however, people complained that to the police department and First Selectman Jim Marpe that it was intrusive and an invasion of privacy. Though Draganfly said it was not using facial recognition software, nor was it collecting any personal data, residents complained that it was still too much like Big Brother.

And so it goes. I wasn’t surprised that Westport coppers were willing to trial something this innovative. They’ve used drones for several years – starting with projects aimed at finding drowning victims in Long Island Sound. Moved on to multiple uses in the years following.

Westport is Connecticut’s hotspot for COVID-19. It sits in Fairfield County which butts up against the New York State line. It’s a popular commuter home for folks earning incomes with lots of 0’s on the end in New York City.

Prickles the Sheep Back Home After Seven Years on the Lam(b)

Photo courtesy of Alice Gray

When a devastating spate of bushfires hit the Australian island state of Tasmania in 2013, locals like Alice Gray found themselves caught completely off guard. The flames, which burned through some 50,000 acres statewide, destroyed much of the Gray family’s farm, consuming miles of fencing that ran along its border.

In the chaos, several livestock animals living on the farm fled for their lives—including a sheep, now known as Prickles, who was then little more than a tiny lamb. Seven years later, she has wandered back into the Grays’ lives, swaddled in a gloriously rotund wool coat after nearly a decade unshorn…

With thousands of sheep under their care, the Grays didn’t initially notice Prickles’ absence. But years after the fire, Gray’s father-in-law spotted something unusual in footage captured by a night vision camera installed on the property: a “great white, fluffy thing” that hobbled up to the lens and peered down into it…

The family had been looking for a change of scenery during self-isolation and were in the middle of a sausage cookout on the property’s back paddock when they spied “this big round thing,” according to Gray, who recalls thinking, “Oh my God, I think that is that crazy sheep we saw in the video.”

…The Grays have scheduled her shearing for May 1 and are currently holding a fundraising contest to benefit the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, bringing aid to refugees affected by COVID-19.

RTFA. Heartwarming, woolly tale about nice folks and a silly sheep caught on the wrong side of the fence they rebuilt after a bushfire.