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Evaluating the Societal Impact of Using Drones to Support Urban Upgrading Projects

Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC), University of Twente, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2018, 7(3), 91;
Received: 29 January 2018 / Revised: 23 February 2018 / Accepted: 7 March 2018 / Published: 10 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Environment Mapping Using GIS)
PDF [1129 KB, uploaded 10 March 2018]


Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones, have been gaining enormous popularity for many applications including informal settlement upgrading. Although UAVs can be used to efficiently collect highly detailed geospatial information, there are concerns regarding the ethical implications of its usage and the potential misuse of data. The aim of this study is therefore to evaluate the societal impacts of using UAVs for informal settlement mapping through two case studies in Eastern Africa. We discuss how the geospatial information they provide is beneficial from a technical perspective and analyze how the use of UAVs can be aligned with the values of: participation, empowerment, accountability, transparency, and equity. The local concept of privacy is investigated by asking citizens of the informal settlements to identify objects appearing in UAV images which they consider to be sensitive or private. As such, our research is an explicit example of how to increase citizen participation in the discussion of geospatial data security and privacy issues over urban areas and provides a framework of strategies illustrating how such issues can be addressed. View Full-Text
Keywords: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs); urban planning; informal settlements; social impact; privacy Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs); urban planning; informal settlements; social impact; privacy

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Gevaert, C.M.; Sliuzas, R.; Persello, C.; Vosselman, G. Evaluating the Societal Impact of Using Drones to Support Urban Upgrading Projects. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2018, 7, 91.

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