Timeline of drone use

The following is an incomplete timeline of UAS use by Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies since 2013. We apologize for any usage or events we missed in our research. We would like to hear from you so that we can update this timeline. Please contact daniel.joseph@redcross.org regarding any omissions.



The IFRC and ICRC participates in a workshop entitled “Unmanned Aerial Systems for Rapid Mapping UASRapidMap 2013,” organized by the European Commission Joint Research Centre and United Nations UNITAR - UNOSAT. 1


In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, Philippines-based Danoffice IT uses a drone to support disaster response activities: it helps support the Canadian Red Cross Society (amongst other organizations). 2



The first UN advisory round table on humanitarian UAVs meets in New York City: the American Red Cross attends, alongside UN-OCHA, UNHCR, UNICEF, the UAViators network, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap, DanOfficeIT, Google Project Wing and others.



The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the American Red Cross publish “A Vision for the Humanitarian Use of Emerging Technology for Emerging Needs,” a report that summarizes the results of the Global Dialogue on Emerging Technology for Emerging Needs. 3 The report selects drones as one of four technologies that address “actual barriers to resilience” and it calls upon disaster responders to further invest in the technology.


The International Red Cross participates in a Norwegian disaster simulation that includes use of a search-and-rescue drone, made by Aerialtronics. 4


The American Red Cross and Measure release a joint study describing how drones “can help first responders and improve disaster relief efforts.” 5


Abi Weaver of the Red Cross Global Technology project describes the progress of her organization’s global UAV strategy. 6


The Tanzania Red Cross National Society collaborates with the World Bank, Drone Adventures, COSTECH, the Swedish International Development Agency and the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction to evaluate UAV use for disaster risk reduction. 7


The RCRC holds its second global summit on emerging technologies in the Netherlands. Drones are part of the dialogue. 8


The Humanitarian UAV Network holds a meeting at MIT, bringing together representatives from the Red Cross, GlobalMedic, DJI, Skycatch, the UN, and others. 9


The Italian Red Cross participates in a joint exercise with university researchers and city officials in Turin to test the performance of UAVs for search and rescue missions. 10

The IFRC and scientists from Airbus Group meet at Airbus Space Labs to discuss humanitarian technology. 11



The American Red Cross participates in a “Drone Do Tank” activity with UN agencies, drone companies, and local government. 13


Nigerien drone maker Aziz Kountche uses his DIY camera drone to take photographs of a Red Cross Luxembourg project in Gaya, Niger. 12

The Uganda Red Cross Society deploys a drone to monitor the situation at a refugee camp on the border with South Sudan. 14



The IFRC, the Austrian Red Cross, and Land Rover announce “Project Hero,” a Land Rover Discovery customized with a “tailor-made communications drone and other specialist technology.” 15


The Philippine and American Red Cross collaborates to collect UAV imagery for mapping in the Philippines, as part of the recovery project from Typhoon Haiyan. 17


The Kenya Red Cross captures footage of the severe drought in the Ewaso Nigro river basin using a DJI Phantom 4 drone which was supplied by the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. 16


The Australian Red Cross collaborates with the Australian Government, the IFRC, and WeRobotics to understand how UAVs might be used for disaster risk management in the South Pacific: the year-long project ends in Sept 2017. 18

The American Red Cross announces that it will collaborate with now-defunct tethered drone maker CyPhy Works to conduct drone-data collection in support of relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey. The project is funded with a charitable donation from UPS. 19


The Malawi Red Cross Society participates in a workshop coordinated by UNICEF Malawi and WeRobotics regarding drone technology. 20

The American Red Cross collects drone imagery of Canaan, Haiti. 21



UNICEF collaborates with LUANAR University and the Malawi Red Cross Society in an anti-cholera mapping exercise using drone imagery. 22


The American Red Cross is named as a partner in Reno’s successful bid to participate in the U.S. FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program. 23


The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society launches a drone to assess monsoon disasters from the air as part of a response effort supported by the IFRC. 24


Canadian Red Cross Society communications officer Luc Alary uses a drone to take photographs and video at refugee camps in Bangladesh. 25


Uganda Flying Labs works with the Uganda Red Cross Society, MapUganda, and Drone Nerds Africa to use drones to assess landslide damage in the Bududa district. 26

The Kenyan Red Cross announced a collaboration with Canadian drone company DAC Aviation, as part of an effort to launch its own drone program. 27


The Philippine Red Cross announces a collaboration with Nokia and Smart Communications to “bring innovative technology like LTE-connected drones and a portable network into areas struck by disaster.” 28



German Red Cross unit Kreisverband Limburg e.V. begins to use UgCS software and a drone for search and rescue operations. 29

The American Red Cross leads a community mapping for risk reduction training in Belize, which includes a drone component. 30


The IFRC uses a drone to document devastation in Mozambique after Cyclone Idai. 31


The American Red Cross funds improvements to OpenDroneMap (ODM) that allows users of the open source software to process large datasets on a cluster of machines faster by distributing the dataset over multiple nodes. 32



As part of the COVID-19 response, the Korean Red Cross uses a drone to disinfect high-risk spots at the Red Cross Hospital in Gyeongsang-do. 33


The Italian Red Cross RPAS training centre in Bologna, which first opened in 2017, is recognized as “state flight” by the national civil aviation authority (ENAC). The Italian Red Cross aims to standardize training and capacities for all personnel to support search and rescue activities. 34


The British Red Cross uses drone footage for media communications to show the devastation in Beirut caused by the explosion at the port. 68



Markus Reuster et al. “Unmanned Aerial Systems for Rapid Mapping UASRapidMap 2013.” 4th JRC ECML Crisis Management Technology Workshop, JRC Scientific and Policy Reports. European Commission Joint Research Centre. 2013. http://unosat.web.cern.ch/unosat/unitar/publications/unmannedAerialSystemsRapidMapping.pdf


“Case Study No 9: Using Drone Imagery for real-time information after Typhoon Haiyan in The Philippines.” FSD. August 26, 2016. https://drones.fsd.ch/en/3642/


International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; American Red Cross. “A Vision for the Humanitarian Use of Emerging Technology for Emerging Needs.” ALNAP. February 1, 2015. https://www.alnap.org/help-library/a-vision-for-the-humanitarian-use-of-emerging-technology-for-emerging-needs.


Aerialtronics. “Drones can save lives in search and rescue mission after avalanche.” March 30, 2015. https://www.aerialtronics.com/2015/03/drones-can-save-lives-in-search-and-rescue-mission-after-avalanche


Measure. “American Red Cross And Measure Study Shows Drones Can Save Lives And Help Rebuild Communities #dronesforgood #droneasaservice.” PR News Wire. April 21, 2015. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/american-red-cross-and-measure-study-shows-drones-can-save-lives-and-help-rebuild-communities-dronesforgood-droneasaservice-300069410.html


Emma Schwartz. “Global Strategies with Community Value: The Red Cross Experiment with UAVs.” NetHope Solutions Center. May 4, 2015. https://solutionscenter.nethope.org/resources/global-strategies-with-community-value-the-red-cross-experiment-with-uavs


“World Bank Using UAVs for Disaster Risk Reduction in Tanzania.” OpenDRI. August 19, 2015. https://opendri.org/world-bank-using-uavs-for-disaster-risk-reduction-in-tanzania/


Climate Centre. “A high-tech future for humanitarians one step closer after Red Cross Red Crescent summit in NL.” September 1, 2015. https://www.climatecentre.org/news/572/a-high-tech-future-for-humanitarians-one-step-closer-after-red-cross-red-crescent-summit-in-nl


Mapbox. “Humanitarian Drone Mapping with UAViators.” Points of Interest. October 12, 2015. https://blog.mapbox.com/humanitarian-drone-mapping-with-uaviators-13c455ae1bd2


Laura Novaro Mascarello, Fulvia Quagliotti, Mario Bertini. ” An unmanned search and rescue mission.” EGU General Assembly 2016, held 17-22 April, 2016 in Vienna Austria, id. EPSC2016-7124. https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2016EGUGA..18.7124N/abstract


Shaun Hazeldine. “To boldly go..” Thomson Reuters Foundation News. May 23, 2016. http://news.trust.org/item/20160523120933-7pc5y


Katie Drew. “Taking to the skies: displacement, drones, and maps.” UNHCR Innovation Service. September 27, 2016. https://www.unhcr.org/innovation/taking-to-the-skies-displacement-drones-and-maps/


“Disaster Relief Drones Provide Life-Saving Aid.” UNICEF Innovation. July 7, 2016. https://www.unicef.org/innovation/stories/disaster-relief-drones-provide-life-saving-aid


Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. “First use of a drone by Red Cross in Africa highlights scale of humanitarian situation at Uganda’s border with South Sudan.” September 16, 2016. https://www.ifrc.org/en/news-and-media/news-stories/africa/uganda/first-use-of-a-drone-by-red-cross-72516/


IFRC. “Land Rover unveils drone-fitted search and rescue vehicle to support Red Cross Red Crescent disaster response.” March 7, 2017. https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/press-release/land-rover-ifrc-drones/


IFRC. “The struggle for water in Kenya: Red Cross drone video shows grip of drought as global appeal raised to $25m.” ReliefWeb. April 10, 2017. https://reliefweb.int/report/kenya/struggle-water-kenya-red-cross-drone-video-shows-grip-drought-global-appeal-raised-25m


“Detailed drone and street-level imagery for mapping in the Philippines,” Missing Maps, July 27, 2017. https://www.missingmaps.org/blog/2017/07/27/drone-and-street-level-imagery-in-philippines/


“Red Cross Robotics in the South Pacific.” WeRobotics. September 18, 2017. https://blog.werobotics.org/2017/09/18/red-cross-robotics-in-the-south-pacific/


Eric M. Johnson. “Red Cross Launches First U.S. Drone Program for Disasters.” Reuters. September 7, 2017. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-storm-harvey-redcross-drones/red-cross-launches-first-u-s-drone-program-for-disasters-idUSKCN1BI2X9


“Building Expertise in Humanitarian Drone Coordination in Malawi.” WeRobotics. December 14, 2017. https://blog.werobotics.org/2017/12/14/humanitarian-drone-coordination-malawi/


“Drones over Canaan, Haiti.” Missing Maps. April 9, 2018. https://www.missingmaps.org/blog/2018/04/09/canaan-drones/


Rebecca Phwitiko. “Drones for cholera response: innovating for children in Malawi.” UNICEF Malawi. February 26, 2018. https://medium.com/@unicef_malawi/drones-for-cholera-response-innovating-for-children-in-malawi-6dcab2c4de53


“Reno picked for national drone pilot program.” Kolo8 NewsNow. May 9, 2018. https://www.kolotv.com/content/news/Reno-picked-for-national-drone-pilot-program-482204101.html


“Sri Lanka Red Cross drone assesses monsoon disaster from the air.” Climate Centre. May 6, 2018. https://www.climatecentre.org/news/1003/sri-lanka-red-cross-drone-assesses-monsoon-disaster-from-the-air


Fanni Barocsi. “Drones: A helpful eye in the sky.” Canadian Red Cross. August 14, 2018. https://www.redcross.ca/blog/2018/8/drones-a-helpful-eye-in-the-sky


“Uganda Flying Labs Deploys Drone Expertise to Assess Landslides in Bududa District.” WeRobotics. October 31, 2018. https://blog.werobotics.org/2018/10/31/uganda-flying-labs-deploys-drone-expertise-to-assess-landslides-in-bududa-district/


DAC Aviation. Twitter. https://twitter.com/DACAviation/status/1057586158266392576


Nokia. “Philippine Red Cross to employ Nokia Drone Networks solution to aid disaster response.” November 27, 2018. https://www.nokia.com/about-us/news/releases/2018/11/27/philippine-red-cross-to-employ-nokia-drone-networks-solution-to-aid-disaster-response/


UGCS. “German Red Cross strengthens its search and rescue capability with UGCS.” January 23, 2019. https://www.ugcs.com/news-entry/german-red-cross-strengthens-its-search-and-rescue-capability-with-ugcs


American Red Cross. “Mapping for disaster risk reduction in Belize.” January 22, 2019. https://americanredcross.github.io/2019/01/22/belize-mapping/


Chris Mills Rodrigo. “Drone footage shows devastation from cyclone in Mozambique.” The Hill. March 19, 2019. https://thehill.com/policy/international/434734-drone-coverage-shows-devastation-from-cyclone-in-mozambique


Dan Joseph, Seth Fitzsimmons. “POSM 0.9 - Passel of POSMs.” American Red Cross. August 7, 2019. https://americanredcross.github.io/2019/08/07/posm-9-release/


IFRC Asia Pacific. Twitter. https://twitter.com/IFRCAsiaPacific/status/1235852877119160322


Centro Addestramento Nazionale SAPR (Sistemi di Aeromobile a Pilotaggio Remoto). https://www.cri.it/centroaddestramentodroni


British Red Cross. Twitter. https://twitter.com/BritishRedCross/status/1293561021974675462