Tech-savvy UAE has announced plans to monitor littering on its famous beaches and desert camps using unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly known as drones. The Dubai Municipality’s move comes after the success of using one such drone in monitoring landfill sites, and have cited cost effectiveness as one of their main motives to automate the inspection of their prized beaches and campsites. “We save money and time as the inspectors do not have to drive around and also, the drones can reach up to places that our employees cannot get to,” said Abdul Majeed Al Saifaie, director of the Waste Management Department.
Littering is already a punishable offense in the Emirates, with an especially expensive fine for those caught leaving waste on the beach. Littering on the beach is a 1,000 dirhams ($270) fine, double the amount specified for littering in other public spaces. The drones set to circle above coastal resorts and popular campsites will not only target individuals: Al Saifaie states that the high resolution images generated by the aerial vehicles will also help spot trucks which are illegally dumping waste outside of Dubai’s designated facilities. However, it is not clear how individual offenders will be recognized and fined on the ground.
Meanwhile, the UAE’s Federal Criminal Code was updated in 2015 to include conditions that regulate the use of drones fitted with cameras which specify that they can only be flown during the daytime, lower than 122 meters in the air, in good weather conditions and away from private property, people and airports. The Emirates’ government have also established the UAE Drones for Good Award, which is now in its second year.
“Instead of having municipality inspectors driving across the city, the drones will be able to fly directly to a number of different locations within a short time, and provide us with data and high-resolution photographs,” justified Al Saifaie.
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