29 April 2016

Uganda: Drones More Useful Than Taking Naughty Pictures

opinion

Jal Paddy,

This month a drone finally smashed into a British airways jet at Heathrow Airport after reports of several near misses over the country's air space. Drones are getting more popular by the day and giving London authorities a similar headache that Kampala Capital City Authority faces with boda bodas

The drones in this country have since crossed over from war action films into our homes. They are easily affordable by the average folk, easy to operate and have become a staple of Christmas presents lists over the years. And the appeal seems not so much about operating a model aircraft as having a flying camera.

You can only imagine the fun young Britons are having flying their cameras over the neighbourhood back gardens and bedroom windows. No more having to scale walls and climb trees to satisfy one's curiosity, like our lot used to do (I am talking about the naughty children of course, not humble you and me).

The cops admit there has been a huge rise in the number of complaints of drones flying near windows, trying to record illicit videos, including intimate moments between couples without their knowledge. The clips are then shared online.

One such naughty drone was stoned out of the skies at a UK beach last summer when it was spotted hovering over naked sunbathers. In Manchester, police arrested a guy last October after complaints about drone flights over the Etihad stadium on match days. Another guy flew his over Anfield stadium during a Champions League match and later posted the footage on YouTube, according to the police. Both ended up in the coolers for their seemingly harmless endeavours.

Hitting planes is a more worrisome extent and experts are calling for tougher laws to govern these things. Naughty children may have to go back to wall climbing after all.

Despite the bad name London drones have been giving the airborne gadgets out there, they are very many other remarkable benefits they can have other than being flying cameras.

For starters, they gave local music icon Bebe Cool bragging rights for being the first artiste to employ a drone to shoot a music video in Uganda. The gadgets later went on to spice up the presidential elections with sky view shots of crowds and empty spaces at rallies.Trust Ugandans to put our politics and celebrity craze first.

While our government seems contented with just showing us pictures of crowds and how much we love Mzee, in the Philippines drones are being used in the aftermath of typhoons to survey damage, identify blocked roads and search for displaced people.

Our neighbours Rwanda, and also Malawi, are busy working on projects that will see drones carry medical supplies to and from remote clinics and health centres around their countries.

For Uganda, our hope lies with Dr Timothy Amukele, a pathologist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who is working with Makerere University on a project that will see drones carry blood samples to rural areas in a manner safer and faster than the usual boda boda and bicycle couriers used in our villages.

This just goes to show you that we don't have to swallow everything that comes out of the so-called more developed economies hook, line, and sinker. If we must, we can always switch and fiddle around with these things to best suit our needs.

Your friend,

Chris.

Uganda

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