I doubt anyone is in love with the idea of living in a surveillance state, but drones are becoming extremely affordable and are capable of filling a variety of useful roles, beyond spying on your bathroom habits. For example, police forces in the US and even Queensland are trying to slot the little flying contraptions into their regular activities and it looks like NSW wants in on the action too.
In the case of the NSW Police, search and rescue operations are its focus, according to a story by the SMH’s Nick Ralston. A drone would not only be less expensive, but more agile and flexible than a plane or helicopter.
Right now, NSW Police is conducting a trial to assess the pros and cons:
“[Drones] could be equipped with video technology, including infrared technology, to aid police conducting search, rescue and emergency responses,” [Assistant Commissioner Mal Lanyon] said … “The use of new and emerging technology that is operationally effective and cost efficient makes complete sense,” Mr Lanyon said. “The purpose of the trial is to ensure that any privacy concerns are considered and addressed prior to future deployment.”
Obviously, the widespread use of drones is going to bring up some tricky privacy issues, which legislators will have to figure out at some stage. For now, it’s hard to see any downside with providing rescue teams with more tools to respond to accidents and disasters faster.