Social Implications of Using Drones for Biodiversity Conservation: Sandbrook 2015

In Sandbrook’s “Social Implications of Using Drones for Biodiversity Conservation”, the ethical and social issues surrounding the use of drones for conservation research are discussed, and positioned within the bigger conversation of the benefits and costs of using such technologies for empirical research.

Drones are in their infancy with regards not only to conservation research, but to passive data collection techniques as an empirical research method. The article does a great job at giving an overview of the social benefits and the barriers that remain to be surmounted as well. I do believe that conservation techniques may be compromised through increased “hacking” knowledge, and that the article should have discussed this angle more, as it brings with it many interesting questions: How can we “protect” the data collected by the drones? And furthermore, how do we catch the culprits? Cybersecurity is an increasing field of research, and goes hand in hand with using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones).

I found that the article also brought attention to the important problem that is how these technologies will be perceived by local communities that see these technologies overhead. While the article doesn’t provide a solution, it appears that just mentioning the ethical implications of drone use is a big step in and of itself, as only a handful of conservation articles reviewed by the author bring up the issue in their research. That was shocking to me, as this article was published this year!

That being said, I really look forward to tomorrow’s discussion of this topic, especially following last week’s discussion of Critical GIS and ethics within GIScience as a whole.


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