iPhone + UAVs + Crisis Response

The year I spent at the University of California at Berkeley was one of the best times of my life. So I’m thrilled that this project, reported by Wired, was made in the Berkeley Republic. In fact, I’m not at all surprised that Cal students are behind the initiative since it completely violates the terms of the Apple Software Developer Kit agreement, “applications may not be designed or marketed for real-time route guidance; automatic or autonomous control of vehicles, aircraft, or other mechanical devices; dispatch or fleet management; or emergency or life-saving purposes.”

As the title suggests, the Berkeley project enables an individual to remotely control the flight trajectory of a UAV and to take pictures all from the iPhone interface. The video below is definitely worth watching. See my other blog here on the use of UAVs for conflict early warning and response.

Still on the subject of the iPhone is the question whether of whether or not the next generation iPhone is suitable for emergency management. Gav’s blog kicked off a conversation that continued on the Humanitarian ICT list serve where several colleagues chimed in with some of the iPhone’s advantages and disadvantages. One of the concerns echoed repeatedly stems from the issue regarding Apple’s terms of agreement. However, as the Berkeley students have demonstrated, some may get away with crossing Steve Jobs. In any case, of particular interest to me are the location-aware social networking applications being developed for the iPhone SDK such as Loopt, which lets you see whether your contacts are in the vicinity.

Patrick Philippe Meier

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