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Drones for Search and Rescue Operations?
News - 28. February 2013

Drones for Search and Rescue Operations?

Should drones be used in search and rescue operations in Norway, or are ‘eyes on the ground’ better suited for this task? In a joint workshop the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, the Norwegian Board of Technology and the Red Cross Norway assess the opportunities and challenges related to new technologies and methods in search and rescue operations.

As Norway's largest voluntary rescue organization, the Red Cross Rescue Corps undertakes an increasing number of rescue operations. The Red Cross is working actively to identify new tools and methods to improve its search capacity. When investing into new solutions for conducting search and rescue operations, the security and safety of missing persons and of volunteers is of utmost importance. In March 2013 a diverse group of experts will come together to discuss two possible ways of improving the capacity and the safety of those operations.

Civilian drones are regarded as one potential solution for the search and rescue of missing persons. Due to rapid technological development the threshold for sending camera-equipped drones on search missions has been lowered. However, the use of drones also entails new challenges that must be addressed:

  • Could drones be a security risk for the people on the ground?
  • Could the investment costs be justified?
  • Which ethical and political challenges will occur when using drones for civil purposes?

Another solution to answer the increasing demand for search and rescue operations is to upscale recruitment and provide for advanced training modules for volunteers.

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of investing into the “eyes on the ground”?
  • Will increased training and knowledge lead to sufficient security and safety for volunteers, given that there is an increased demand for such operations?

The “Drones in Search and Rescue Operations’ workshop is part of the DESSI project, a newly developed method addressing important societal dimensions in the field of security decision making. DESSI (Decision Support on Security Investment) is developed by a European consortium, and is financed by EU’s 7th Framework Programme. For further information, please visit: www.securitydecisions.org.

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