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.