Week 9 – Drones

“Drones” is the term that some experts refrain from using as it connotes the meaning of killing from distance in the war of western areas. In this case we want to regard “drones” as “a new dimension of real-time surveillance information in the contemporary city on a more general level” (Jensen, 2016, p.68). However, the ethical problems associated with drone technology do not disappear thanks to our effort to domesticate or naturalize the term in the peaceful era. In other places, Foucault (2003) suggests that this can be considered western government’s techniques and their testing in foreign areas, which is then brought back to domestic areas. There are many political and ethical issues related to drone technologies as there are some controversies around civil rights and privacy when drones are utilized in public. Obviously, using drones as surveillance can save a huge amount of money and can serve humanitarian purposes, like providing assistance in disaster zones. Nevertheless, when thinking about the situations where drones are officially used for city surveillance, there are some cautions arising. To create the flying path for drones, we need to organize and control the air traffic like what we do with airplanes. This can cause some issues, one of which is safety as drones can crash each other. Another concern is privacy. Although NoFly-Zone company has brought about the system that can make the drones not fly to restricted areas, the system can be hacked, as a drone is just a flying computer (Goodman, 2013). The case study of Mitchell Sipus (2014) has explored the three-dimension understanding of urban areas. Specifically, it is necessary to perceive cities in both two-dimension and three-dimension ways, as the volumes and voids in-between the buildings require planners to imagine the space. The appearance of drone surveillance activates a rethinking of urban areas and mobile circumstances.


Foucault, M., & Ewald, F. (2003). ” Society Must Be Defended”: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975-1976 (Vol. 1). Macmillan.

Goodman, M. (2013). A view from the unfriendly skies: How criminals are using drones. TED. com.

Jensen, O. B. (2016). Drone city-power, design and aerial mobility in the age of” smart cities”. Geographica Helvetica71(2), 67.

Sipus, M. (2014). Zoning and Urban land use planning for drones, available at: http://www.thehumanitarianspace.com/2014/08/ zoning-and-urban-land-use-planning-for.html

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