The United Nations anticipate a growing need of humanitarian assistance to cope with pandemics, natural disasters or armed conflicts. In response, international organizations are increasingly adopting innovations in humanitarian action. These solutions include the use of digital technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles (commonly referred to as drones), which represent the first wave of robotics applied in the humanitarian sector.
In a study finalized in August 2021, we explored in-depth the ethical, legal and social implications of the humanitarian use of drones (HUD), based on a scoping literature review, two field studies in Nepal and Malawi, and the development of the Framework for the Ethics Assessment of Humanitarian Drones (FEAHD), providing international organizations with ethical guidance and support in making strategic decisions related to the health and humanitarian use of drones.
Throughout the development of the FEAHD, our partner organizations pointed to the greater benefits by transforming the conceptual framework into a practical digital tool that can be implemented and operationalized in the field. Thus, the objectives of this follow-up project are twofold: (1) Translating the FEAHD into a responsive and interactive digital tool E-HUD to assist international organizations with ethically informed decision-making in drone deployment. (2) Leveraging the findings of this process and extending the applications of the tool to facilitate the ethics assessment of civil use of drones in the Swiss context with a focus on the Canton of Zurich and Canton of Geneva, where drones are being increasingly deployed by both public and private entities in daily activities.
The specific goals of the workshop are threefold: First, we will present the prototype of the E-HUD tool to international health and humanitarian organizations to recieve feedback and advice from their respective points of view. Second, we will bring together scholars and experts that will provide their insights on the techncial, normative and operational aspects of technological innovation in health and humanitarian sectors. Third, we will critically discuss the ways in which the E-HUD tool may be implemented and operationalized for our project partners, which will be supported by the participation of key stakeholders from academia, NGOs and industry in the workshop. More broadly, this workshop is embedded in a larger project funded by the Canton of Zurich. The workshop, hence, plays a decisive role in the overall research plan of developing and disseminating the E-HUD tool.