Published On: Wed, Apr 22nd, 2020

CT Police Testing Highly Invasive Drones To Enforce Social Distancing

Westport, Connecticut police are going to be testing a “pandemic drone” that monitors citizens’ temperatures from almost 200 feet away and detects sneezing and coughing as well as heart and breathing rates.

Produced by the Canadian company Draganfly, the drones will be used by the police department “to enhance town services, advance public safety, promote the efficient use of taxpayer dollars, engage residents, and encourage growth in the local economy.”

Westport police titled the operation the “Flatten the Curve Pilot Program.”

According to a Draganfly press release, “The pandemic drone will be equipped with a specialized sensor and computer vision systems that can display fever/temperature, heart and respiratory rates, as well as detect people sneezing and coughing in crowds, and wherever groups of people may work or congregate. The technology can accurately detect infectious conditions from a distance of 190 feet as well as measure social distancing for proactive public safety practices.”

“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,” Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe said in a recent statement. “One way to do this is to look for underlying symptoms. By teaming up with Draganfly and the UniSA team led by Defence Chair of Sensor Systems Professor Javaan Chahl, we are able to remotely look at valuable lifesaving data and better manage current and future health emergencies.”

Westport will use the drones to monitor potential at-risk groups like seniors, crowds gathering downtown and at beaches, train stations, parks and recreation areas, shopping centers and basically all areas where people frequently gather.

Police say the technology will not be used to spy on private properties and note that the drones do not use facial recognition technology.

“This program has been tested for approximately the last five days,” Westport Police Lt. Anthony Prezioso told Patch. “It is anticipated that this will continue to be in effect through the summer months of July and August as we anticipate the need to continue to work to reinforce social distancing measures in order to limit and control the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

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