University of Sourthern California


Public Health Uses of Drone Technology

Technology is changing the face of public health, from the use of social media to disseminate and collect important information to the development of ways to print organs in the future.

No example of the value of technology is more relevant right now than the use of drones. Drones have shown particular promise in disaster recovery efforts and global health initiatives, becoming a key tool for public health and humanitarian agencies alike.

Disaster Recovery

Drones are used directly following disasters not only to assess damage but also to understand dangerous conditions, look for victims that rescuers on the ground may not be able to see, and even deliver recovery supplies (like life jackets).

Assessing Threats

Drones can be used to safely assess the threat in situations where it’s dangerous for humans to go, such as in the area around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, in situations of structural damage, or in landscapes where humans can’t easily navigate.

Fighting Wildfires

The U.S. Fire Administration found that in 2013, firefighters sustained 34 deaths and 29,760 injuries while combating volatile fires. Drones can drop fire retardants as a low height and close proximity, reducing risk to firefighters

Delivering Medical Aid

Drones can be used to transport supplies and medications to rural areas in need of help. For example, drones are used in Rwanda to transport blood; additionally, pilot projects have shown that drones could get external defibrillators to emergency scenes much faster than an ambulance could.

Learn more about the use of drones for public health and how on-going drone technology development could make a difference in the below infographic by the USC Master of Public Health online program:

Infographic Sources:




MIT Technology Review


Drone Life

NBC News

ABC 7 News