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Public backs use of drones for emergencies and policing

01/11/18

Mark Say Managing Editor

Most of the public in England supports the use of drones in emergency response operations and for policing, according to the results of a survey published by the Department for Transport (DfT).

Drone in flight

There is also strong support for using drones in infrastructure management, but much more caution in respect to personal and retail use.

The findings are part of the DfT’s newly published Public Attitudes Tracker on transport and technology, which covers a range of issues include electric vehicles, connectivity and car ownership.

The figures on attitudes to drones, which come from responses from 3,538 people in England, show 84% support their use in emergency responses such as search rescue and 78% in policing such as monitoring borders and surveillance. In both cases there were high figures for ‘strongly support’: 60% for emergencies and 45% for policing.

The survey also recorded 76% support for using drones in infrastructure management such as building or bridge inspection and monitoring crops.

A smaller majority of 58% emerged for professional photography and journalism. But people were less enthusiastic about the use of the technology for leisure (41%) and retail such as package delivery and stock checking (36%). In both cases fewer people actually opposed the idea with large proportions of ‘don’t knows’.

Despite the overall support, a majority of 58% also registered concerns over privacy and intrusion, with significant figures also showing for worries over drones’ potential misuse by terrorist or criminals (28%) and the danger of collisions in the air (25%).

The survey, taken in June of this year, also found that 11% of adults in England had used a drone.

Image from Oxford Direct Services

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