How travel data can help manage the spread of the Zika virus
UNICEF Sudan embarks on Hackathon series: أنا ابتكار (ana ibtekir), I-NNOVATE

On June 22 -23, 2016, Allison Burtch, UNICEF Innovation’s speculative hardware expert went to a “Drone Do Tank” event with other UN agencies comprising of UNOCHA, UNOICT, UNDP and UNFPA, drone companies and the local government. This event was put together by the volunteers of the Field Innovation Team and Cape May County.

UNICEF Innovation is interested in exploring how drones can be used in emergency situations and incorporated in normal logistics systems.

The event participants included the Red Cross, UNICEF, UNOCHA, UNOICT, UNDP, UNFPA drone companies and the local governments @fieldinnovationteam
Viewers getting ready to view the drone test

Freshly back to the UNICEF headquarters, Allison weaves the event’s highlights with the numerous opportunities of how drones can be utilized during disaster relief situations.

Allison sharing our drone projects and our UNICEF Innovation Fund.

The opportunity to carry medical samples and relief goods to and from areas which are not accessible during natural disasters. 

  • Flirtey, a drone start-up company which received the first Federal Aviation Administration-approved (FAA-approved) drone delivery in America, successfully completed its first domestic “ship to shore” drone delivery on this event. This exercise showcased how its 3D printed drone can carry a cargo of simulated blood and medical samples between an onshore camp to a boat floating off the coast.
Flirtey drones carrying medical supplies.
Flirtey drones carrying medical supplies @RoboticsTrend


The opportunity to have an instant snapshot, on air or underwater, of a disaster’s damage and access the communities’ potential needs.

  • A team of engineering students at Rutgers designed an incredible quadcopter that could submerge itself underwater, navigate and film, and they fly again.
Rutgers underwater drone
Rutgers underwater drone @RutgersToday

The opportunity for drones to assist in providing navigational aid and assistance.

  • A solar-powered robotic boat programmed to drop a buoy at specific GPS coordinates was also presented on this event. This “Drone Boat” could travel across the Atlantic only on solar power in less than 60 days.
A solar-powered robotic boat

The opportunity to collaborate and partner with other UN Agencies working on innovation.

  • The event was also a great avenue to meet people such as Andrew Billo from UNOCHA, Leslie Berman from UNFPA and Malika Bhandarkar from UNDP, providing more cross-collaboration towards integrating existing game-changing technologies to solve and address humanitarian crises around the world.
How innovation plays a vital role towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals #SDGs

As a whole, the “Drone Do Tank” event further strengthened how a drone’s capabilities can significantly contribute and provide relief during disasters and crisis situations.

What’s next on Allison’s itinerary?

She’ll be heading out to Malawi and South Africa mid-July to work on furthering the use of drones in emergency situations and in transport logistics. Many more exciting drone developments to come.

Stay tuned for live, on-field updates.


How travel data can help manage the spread of the Zika virus
UNICEF Sudan embarks on Hackathon series: أنا ابتكار (ana ibtekir), I-NNOVATE