About the Authors

Faine Greenwood

Faine Greenwood is a humanitarian technology researcher and writer, with a particular focus on drone technology, remote sensing, and spatial data ethics. Greenwood has previously conducted research into operational uses for drone technology at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s Signal Program, New America, the World Economic Forum, the World Bank, and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Dan Joseph

Dan is a Solutions Engineer with the American Red Cross International Services Department. As part of the Quality, Data, and Learning (QDL) unit he provides a variety of support related to information management and humanitarian tech. He provides direct implementation support for improved analysis, information dissemination, and data collection. He also engages in technology R&D for continuous improvement and competency development for Red Cross staff and volunteers.


The initial research was conducted September 2019 to February 2020. Specific search terms were used to identify press releases, reports, and other sources describing RCRC drone uses. Various networks such as Surge Information Management Support (SIMS) were queried about any knowledge of drone uses. Identified National Society staff and volunteers were asked about any drone use cases that they were themselves aware of.

We conducted a total of 17 written and telephone interviews with RCRC or ICRC staff and volunteers. After we confirmed that drones had been used by a National Society in some capacity, we attempted to reach out to representatives of that National Society to identify the individuals who had piloted or otherwise worked closely with the technology. With the consent of the interviewee, all interviews were recorded.

RCRC drone uses were sorted and categorized using a data extraction tool, drawing from both desk research and interview data. Variables of interest included what purpose the drones were used for, what type of drone was used, what type of software was used, reported technical challenges, and reported regulatory challenges, among others. We identified overarching or repeating themes and issues using this data extraction tool.

We apologize for any usage or events we missed in our research. We would like to hear from you so that we can then include your experience with drone technology in future research and written reports. Please contact daniel.joseph@redcross.org regarding any omissions.