Westport Police to Test ‘Pandemic Drone' That Can Sense Fevers, Coughing

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Update: Westport police said they will not take part in the program. The origonal story is below:

Westport police are going to be testing a “pandemic drone” that can monitor people’s temperatures from 190 feet away and detect sneezing, coughing and heart and breathing rates amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Westport police said they are working with Draganfly, a drone company, to test technology in an effort to help combat the spread of the coronavirus.

A news release from Draganfly said 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 state of Connecticut has 19,815 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 8.320 of those cases have been in Fairfield County. Westport has 197 cases.

“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 statementa. “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.”

Police said the goal is to provide better health monitoring support for potential at-risk groups, including seniors, as well as for gathering crowds at beaches, train stations, parks and recreation areas, and shopping centers.

Police said the drone software uses biometric readings to understand population patterns and allows quicker reaction time to ongoing events or potential health threats.

The program is called the “Flatten the Curve Pilot Program.”

Police said it will not be used in individual private yards and it does not use facial recognition technology.

“Using drones remains a go-to technology for reaching remote areas with little to no manpower required. Because of this technology, our officers will have the information and quality data they need to make the best decision in any given situation,” Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas said in a news release.    

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