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Trilateral contributes to book on the future of drone use with a chapter on “Big Data Drone Data.”

Trilateral’s Rachel Finn and Anna Donovan have contributed to the newly published book, The Future of Drone Use: Opportunities and Threats from Ethical and Legal perspectives. The chapter titled “Big Data Drone Data: Privacy and Ethical Impacts of the Intersection Between Big Data and Civil Drone Deployments” examines the intersection between drone data and big data. It focuses on two uses of drones for civil purposes, crisis informatics and precision agriculture, neither of which are thought to raise significant privacy and ethical issues, as they do not focus on people. The chapter outlines the ways in which the integration of drones into big data collection systems augments the privacy and ethical issues raised by drones and big data. Specifically, integrating drone data with social media data in crisis informatics and integrating drone data with meteorological, topographical and consumer data in precision agriculture raise significant issues around identifiability, discrimination and equality and the digital divide. The crisis informatics perspective develops the previous work undertake by Trilateral and others for the BYTE project. The chapter concludes that drones are increasingly becoming big data collection platforms, and as they become integrated with additional technologies and systems, it is problematic to characterise civil drone applications as either “high risk” or “low risk”. Instead, it is necessary to consider the privacy and ethical implications of all of the potential technologies involved rather than focusing on drones themselves.

The book is available via:
For a copy of the pre-publication manuscript, please email Anna Donovan at


By Anna Donovan, 20 December 2016. 

‘Risk Assessment Report and Methodology’

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