Town’s plans to use drone to monitor coronavirus scrapped because of privacy concerns

WESTPORT, Conn. — A Connecticut town’s plan to use drones to monitor the health of its residents in group situations has been grounded.

Westport was going to be part of the “Flatten the Curve Pilot Program” that is being kicked off by the drone company Draganfly.

The company said the drone would 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 Hartford Courant reported.

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Draganfly said the equipment does not use facial recognition technology, the Courant reported.

But Police Chief Foti Koskinas said in a statement, “after careful consideration” the town will not participate because the announcement “resulted in expressions of public concern and reservation,” WVIT reported.

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Originally the drone was expected to be deployed to beaches, train stations, parks, recreation centers and shopping centers, the Courant reported.

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David McGuire, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut had said of the program, “Towns and the state should be wary of self-interest, privacy-invading companies using COVID-19 as a chance to market their products and create future business opportunities,” WVIT reported.