Friday, July 16, 2021

Drones in India: a model for cooperative federalism?

- The emerging potential of drones to transform legacy systems and industries is challenged by policy and governance issues, pricing and economics, and a lack of common knowledge;

- The drone sector in India has shown "cooperative federalism", a collaborative approach between decision-makers, stakeholders and different levels of government, can benefit society's most vulnerable people;

- Healthcare initiatives involving drones show how emerging technologies can navigate shifting and rapidly changing regulatory systems and demands.

Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), blockchain, drones, Internet of Things (IoT), robotics and 3D printing are merging the boundaries between the physical and the digital. Digital interventions in the physical spaces of manufacturing, governance, health and education manifest in productivity improvements, overcoming access barriers and addressing issues arising from constrained resources.

These new technologies share a core characteristic: the potential to transform legacy systems and industries towards more productive, intuitive, interactive, transparent and accountable systems.

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAVs) – drones – are one technology that has come centre-stage in the COVID-19 era. While being recognized for their transformational impact, the UAVs globally have encountered ambiguity relating to policy and governance, pricing and economics, lack of common knowledge and potential social implications. A minimum enabling infrastructure requires synchronicity between the government, private sector, civil society and end user groups.

The sector has several moving parts and shifting goalposts triggered by uncontrollable externalities. Any error of judgement or untoward incident can result in repercussions to industry players around the world. When a drone was reported at Gatwick Airport in 2019, for example, there were talks of tightening the ropes on drone policy in many countries. A small event can invoke greater government intervention to regulate. With the involvement of numerous agencies, one cannot escape the ‘structural intervention’ with the possibility of a governance trap. India’s federal structure makes this no less challenging.

Yet the UAV sector has repeatedly demonstrated how a collaborative and coordinated approach between decision-makers and stakeholders can positively impact those at the bottom of the pyramid – the strata of society that does not have access to basic healthcare. India presents a classic opportunity to build a replicable model of federalism that is cooperative, creative, constructive and competitive; a sandbox where states compete not just with each other but also with the centre. In finding the "sweet spot" as far as policy around drones is concerned, two ongoing programmes are in play – The Medicine from the Sky project, anchored by the Government of Telangana, in southern India, and the BVLOS experimental trials anchored by India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation.

15/07/21 Anna Roy & Vignesh Santhanam/World Economic Forum

To Read the News in full at Source, Click the Headline


Post a Comment