outbrain
Close  

Drones take Italians’ temperature and issue fines

/ 08:50 PM April 12, 2020
drones men

An officer of the municipal police (R), assisted by an instructor, pilots a DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise drone equipped with a thermal sensor for checking people’s temperature on April 9, 2020 in Treviolo. Image: AFP/Miguel Medina

The hovering drone emits a mechanical buzz reminiscent of a wasp and shouts down instructions in a tinny voice.

“Attention! You are in a prohibited area. Get out immediately,” commands the drone, about the size of a loaf of bread.

ADVERTISEMENT

A heat sensor takes the offender’s temperature and sends the information to a drone operator, who stares at a thermal map on his hand-held screen, shining orange and purple blobs.

“Violations of the regulations result in administrative and criminal penalties,” the drone says.

FEATURED STORIES

Italy’s coronavirus epicenter in the northern province of Bergamo, in Lombardy region, has had enough of people spreading COVID-19.

“Once a person’s temperature is read by the drone, you must still stop that person and measure their temperature with a normal thermometer,” Matteo Copia, police commander in Treviolo, near Bergamo, told AFP. “But drones are useful for controlling the territory.”

One in 1,000 dead 

Italy was the first Western democracy to enter a national lockdown in the face of a disease that has officially killed more than 18,000 in the Mediterranean country and nearly 100,000 worldwide.

It is now one of several European nations using police drones to an extent that would have seemed unimaginable, and almost certainly unacceptable, just a month ago.

Drones keep people off Paris’s river quays and monitor water consumption in Spain.

In Italy, they try to figure out who has COVID-19.

ADVERTISEMENT

The official death toll in Lombardy, an industrial area of 10 million people, stood at 10,022 early on Friday, meaning one in 1,000 people have died of the disease in a matter of weeks.

‘Critical operations’
The death toll appears to have peaked and the number of new daily infections is dropping to a point where Italy might soon start seeing the number of formally registered COVID-19 cases decline.

But health officials fear this progress may be undone once people have had enough of life under lockdown and start coming out into the spring sunshine.

Copia says the local police force has received new powers that allow it to check people’s temperature without their knowledge or permission.

“Everything is perfectly legal,” the police commander said. “At this moment of emergency, the Italian civil aviation authority has authorized us to control people using critical and non-critical operations. The critical operations involve city overflights.”

A privacy violation’

The government in Rome is reportedly ready to let residents leave their homes for the first time in nearly two months on May 4. But the most heavily hit regions might choose to extend their lockdowns and the Bergamo drones may keep flying well into the summer months.

Some Italians have had enough of the buzzing machines and their heat maps.

“The use of drones might seem positive but in my opinion, it’s a privacy violation,” local student Carlotta Locatelli said.

But pensioner Regina Masper said the drones delivered a public good.

“I think it’s good that they are using drones,” the pensioner said. “At least we know who is infected and who is not.” JB

RELATED STORIES:

Collapsology: Is this the end of civilization as we know it?

End of the world as we know it? Music megastars riff on the virus

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .

TOPICS: COVID-19, drones, France, Italy, Spain
Read Next
EDITORS' PICK
MOST READ
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.


© Copyright 1997-2020 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.