“Killing Two Birds with One Stone”? A Case Study of Development Use of Drones

In Proceedings of the 2020 IEEE International Symposium on Technology in Society (ISTAS) (2021)
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With the rise of the “humanitarian drone” in recent years, drones have become one of the most controversial public interest technologies that have gained increasing media attention. It is worth noting that, although there is a perception in the aid sector that drones hold the promise to reinvent the health supply logistics, to date, routine drone delivery is still relatively new and largely unproven. This paper presents a recent field study conducted in 2019, where drones were deployed in Malawi to help address the last mile challenge in medical supply delivery, and where a noticeable mentality of “killing two birds with one stone” around the attempt of using drones in resource-poor settings is observed. The objective of the paper is to shed light, through a real-world case study and from the ethical perspective, on the impacts of implementing such a systemic change in the existing health supply chain systems. As conclusion, a call for more reflexive approaches for the critical examination, as well as more structured guidance for the responsible evaluation, of medical cargo drones is raised.



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Ning Wang
University of Zürich (PhD)

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