Drones Can Photograph Almost Anything. But Should They?

Cyclone Pam tore through Vanuatu in the South Pacific in March 2015, destroying or damaging 17,000 buildings and displacing 65,000 people from their homes. Shortly after the storm, humanitarian first responders and journalists began flying drones over the affected area to document the devastation.

Drones have become an increasingly important tool for quick, comprehensive damage assessment after natural disasters, but such footage can be invasive. As Matt Waite, who runs the Drone Journalism Lab at the University of Nebraska, points out, “a lot of these houses had their roofs ripped off but the walls still intact.” In video NBC news shot after the storm, you can clearly see inside. “What if newlyweds decided to do what newlyweds do at that particular moment you happen to be flying along?” Waite asks.

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