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For the past ten years, Patrick Meier has worked at the intersection of technology and humanitarian response. The founder of the influential iRevolution blog, Meier’s humanitarian work centers on self-help and mutual-aid: Empower people to respond locally and build more resilient societies. He believes that UAV technology and user-generated aerial imagery, coupled with widespread mobile access, will greatly increase a community’s ability to self-organize, and that this technology has a vital role to play in the future of humanitarian and disaster relief efforts.

Meier wants to use technology to gather and analyze “Big Data” during disasters. The vast volume of crowdsourced, eyewitness data can be invaluable for immediate damage assessments, such as in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines. He expects that a lot of user-generated aerial imagery will be available during future disasters, and that most of it will come from non-professional eyewitnesses who own personal UAVs — a democratizing movement that he chalks up in no small part to 3D Robotics and DIY Drones. This is why he’s launched the Humanitarian UAViators Network. Meier is calling on civilian/hobbyist UAV pilots and enthusiasts around the world to come together and help figure out the best framework to make use of drone technology for humanitarian response, in a way that is safe, legal, and ethical — one that serves the people and the core humanitarian principle: Do No Harm.

Patrick Meier is an internationally recognized thought leader on the application of new technologies for crisis early warning, humanitarian response and resilience; he’s a Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) Fellow, a UNICEF Humanitarian Innovations Fellow, a Rockefeller Foundation and PopTech Fellow and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer.

Learn more about the UAViator Network here.