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An analysis of nearly 500 playgrounds finds that recess can be optimized to build social skills and relationships.
Despite the proven benefits, students probably aren’t getting the most out of recess, finds a new study that offers up a 17-point checklist to optimize the playground experience.
While there’s little doubt that children get exercise on the playground—recess accounts for up to 44 percent of their steps taken during the school day—schools often underestimate the social, emotional, and academic potential of playtime and fail to design recess to optimize those benefits.
To help educators understand what works on the playground—and what doesn’t—researchers visited nearly 500 elementary schools spanning 22 urban and metropolitan areas in the U.S. The researchers hoped to develop a tool that looked beyond simple questions of physical activity and playground equipment and toward a broader review of “safety, resources, student engagement, adult engagement, prosocial/antisocial behavior, and student empowerment on the playground.”
Tip 1: Don’t Overlook the Power of Recess to Boost Social, Emotional, and Academic Skills
High-quality recess doesn’t just give students an opportunity to exercise, but also helps them learn how to navigate the social and emotional terrain—and turbulence—of childhood. Whether it’s taking turns on the swings, dealing with a crushing loss in dodgeball, or playing on a team, research suggests that these experiences are a kind of life in miniature, laying the foundation for later success in school, relationships, and careers.
To get recess right, the study recommends that schools ask questions linked to student engagement and empowerment on the playground: Are children engaged in a variety of fun games and activities, both structured and unstructured? Are children choosing the games they’d like to play? Are they getting along and using recess to develop key social skills like turn-taking and conflict resolution? Can they operate with increasing confidence without regular adult intervention?
The questions are a reminder that recess is not just about playing games and having fun but also a part of practicing to become healthy, well-rounded adults.
Tip 2: Use Adults to Model Positive Behaviors
Improving students’ relationships with teachers boosts academic success and promotes their well-being. That’s true at recess, too—but schools may underutilize adults on the playground, limiting them to tasks like monitoring student behavior or enforcing playground rules.
That’s a key strategy to help curb bullying, but adults can also model positive language and behaviors while playing alongside children. And when students are excluded from team games, adult supervisors can step in and ensure that every child gets a chance to play, helping to integrate all students and foster a culture of belonging.
Research shows that a student’s psychological well-being—from positive relationships with teachers to their sense of belonging in the school more broadly—can have an outsized effect on academic achievement and long-term success. The playground is another opportunity for schools to build a supportive culture: “If the playground environment is one in which bullying and antisocial behaviors occur, it becomes difficult to make the claim that this environment inherently contributes to social, emotional, and cognitive health,” argue the authors of the study.
Tip 3: Safe Environments Promote Healthy, Active Play
When playground equipment isn’t repaired, it can disrupt recess and undermine students’ feelings of safety. Schools should make sure that the nuts and bolts of the playground are working: Is playground equipment well-maintained? Is there enough game equipment, like balls and jump ropes, to go around? Are hazardous areas, such as construction sites or traffic areas, blocked off?
Children are more likely to enjoy a safe and well-maintained playground, after all. Even something as simple as providing balls and jump ropes can increase the number of children who are physically active by 15 percent.
The takeaway: Use playtime wisely. Recess isn’t a break from learning—if structured appropriately, it’s a valuable opportunity for students to grow socially, emotionally, cognitively, and physically.
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Building the Business Case with Forecasting A Way to Align Your Team
Doing a forecasting exercise at this stage not only helps you evaluate the potential of the lead’s growth possibilities, but is also an important step in the agency’s internal calibration.
For Go Up, this is a “viability test” which includes both the forecast and a deep dive into technical issues, SEO opportunities, and other important bits of a preliminary audit done by the strategy team.
If what the strategy team evaluates is in accordance with the forecast scenario, and there is significant ROI to pitch to that client, the agency can make a solid proposal with all internal views aligned.
To decide if a lead is worth pursuing and control the process, the strategy team is unaware of the findings of the initial forecast analysis, while focusing on:
The lead’s website issues, domain authority, etc.
Keyword opportunities and the “market share” of that business in terms of visibility.
What key resources are needed for a successful SEO campaign: technical SEO, PR, UX, CRO, etc.
The budget versus the SEO possibilities.
In the end, spotting the right opportunity is a matter of answering the following questions:
How much revenue is out there for the client to get?
How long and how resource-intensive is it going to be to reach those targets?
If all the resources are spent in the agreed amount of time, will the client be ROI positive?
If you can come back and say that for a $5,000 monthly budget, you can generate $2 million in a year, then the ROI is clear on both sides.
If, on the contrary, the lead’s SEO objective is unrealistic, and your internal exercise has proven it, you can help them become aware of that. Then, you can set a new target or, depending on the case, explain to them why SEO is not the right marketing approach for their business at the moment.
“When using forecasting, we take that whole setup as being 100%, then look at the slice of the pie that we think is realistic, which might be 30%,” James said. “Then, being really conservative, we carve that to 15%. So we can measure the revenue that 15% will generate – it’s what we compare to the output and the required budget.”
Doing both the forecasting exercise and the viability test becomes a way to assess the strength of a potential campaign while keeping all the involved members of the agency accountable. That’s why, as a process, it then generates the necessary confidence to communicate with a lead and highlight what works and what doesn’t.A Way to Showcase the SEO Opportunity
Gauging the SEO opportunity is, as we’ve seen, a strategic exercise in itself.
With a clear understanding of the lead’s search landscape, the specific search terms that you can optimize and their traffic, the comparison with their competitors, etc., and the forecast scenario in the back of your mind, you can articulate their growth potential.
For the sake of transparency and clear communication, you can present the data range you’re basing your strategy on and explain how that translates into the business opportunity you’ve uncovered.
“There was a financial services company launching a new platform who came to us and said that if we can get them 300 paid signups within year one, then this campaign will have been an absolute success,” James said.
To evaluate the viability of that objective and pinpoint the opportunity, the agency removed anything that looked highly transactional, short-tail keywords, and so on, and designed the internal forecasting exercise around long-tail keyword sets – based on thorough research from a similar business.
“We analyzed what’s left after removing everything that looked really juicy. Did we have an attractive value proposition after that? We took the combined search volume of all of those different long-tail keywords and realized we could provide ROI in the first 10 months of the campaign. We did the conversion rate estimate based on their sister website and then thought – if we’re increasing that conversion rate by 20% and hit the targets on 70% of these keywords on the first page, are we hitting that 300 signups mark? The answer was yes, so we went to the client and said: These are not KPIs, but we think that there is a business model to be had here.”
In the end, the financial services client increased even more than the initial objective, and it was their internal use of the forecasting methodology that made the growth potential clear from the start.
Still, for Go Up, this is also the moment when they clarify that they set KPIs after the first technical improvements are in place:
“If you literally just change the title tags on a website, you’re going to get an indicator quite quickly as to how Google interprets that change and how much it moves the needle for the client,” James said.
Setting this kind of expectation makes the agency confident to provide a forecast scenario in the third or fourth month of the collaboration and set hard KPIs.
“Once we have the initial changes done, we can say all of these keywords here can reach top 3, these top 5, etc. We go back to the forecasting and then set proper KPIs. We’ll often tie ourselves to those targets financially,” James said. “We’ll ask the client to withhold 10% of the monthly management fee. And if, after 12 months, we don’t hit these KPIs, then we waive that 10%. But, if we do, then we send you a nice invoice for that 10%.”
Pro Tip: Whether you present the forecast scenario in the pitching stage or use it as an internal compass, don’t forget about the importance of reforecasting, either. Quarterly business reviews are a good moment to take the client’s pulse and present new SEO opportunities that you’ve spotted during the past months.In Summary
Qualifying clients for your SEO agency involves a lot of work and resources while balancing all the factors you need to consider for a successful collaboration.
If it’s a lead that gets you excited and is a good fit for your agency’s culture, it becomes a matter of evaluating the viability of their SEO objective and opportunities.
Go Up’s use of SEOmonitor’s forecasting module is a straightforward way to internally assess if the client’s ROI is worth it, keeping all sides accountable.
After all, building a business case with forecasting helps you:
Gauge the “market share” of the lead and its growth opportunities.
Understand where you can make a difference and how that can correlate with business results.
Evaluate the consistency of the ROI and be honest about the potential performance of a campaign.
With SEOmonitor’s methodology, you can do all that, while also showcasing the added business value your agency can create, modeling additional traffic, conversions, and a Google Ads’ equivalent cost – which can be an indicator of setting the right budget.
The forecasting module is just one of the solutions SEOmonitor develops for agencies to acquire, manage, and retain more relevant customers.
Join us in our quest to bring more transparency to the SEO industry.
You could use Blockchain as a base to build financial services that fill gaps in the online market. Blockchain connects a network of entities and lets them share information. So, traditional databases only store data for one party at a time.
Blockchain is a type of technology called a “decentralized ledger.” Bitcoin was one of the first and most well-known ways of blockchain technology. However, most experts agree that blockchain technology has a lot of potential for other uses.Blockchain: A Novel Technology for Emerging Economies
In 2023, the price of Bitcoin and Ethereum went up and down. It helped spread the word about Blockchain, which sorts all crypto-assets. The bitcoin market is experiencing a notable edit. We must know what distributed ledger technology means.
Banking and insurance in the U.S. are very well developed, offering enough ease, security, and convenience to retail clients. However, not everyone trusts those in charge. So, decentralization may help increase the number of people who can get financial services and the trust institutions need.
Because it is not centralized, Blockchain is often called a “trustless” ledger system. It allows people to do their transactions without paying for a “trusted” third party to provide assurance, accounting, or a facility. People and families who don’t have access to state-issued IDs think blockchains’ immutable history is a suitable replacement. Hence, helpful in developing countries with hyperinflation or other broken financial systems. It protects against the collapse of centralized institutions. It also gives financial services to people who haven’t been able to use them before because of identity or credit problems.
Experts are thrilled to work on distributed systems for India’s booming economy. India is ready to use a blockchain because of the following demographic trends:
Over half of the people are under 255 years old, which makes them a young group.
This country has one of the fastest-growing smartphone markets. More than 30% of its people use smartphones.
An economy that changes a lot when prices change.
Distributed ledgers have many benefits for centralized parties. Blockchain tech can help industries take the edge of this before the untapped, unbanked, and young market grows. Insurance companies have started taking steps meant to make it easier to find fraud and avoid risks.
Suppose we look at how things are now and compare them to how they were in the early days of the internet. No one could have imagined that online delivery services would grow to the point where they would obsolete stores. It is the promise of Blockchain: the chance to rethink industries already in place completely.Five Important Ways to Use Blockchain Technology
The report uses economic analysis and market research to determine how much money could be made in five major areas. By 2025, there will be a tipping point for the widespread use of blockchain technology in the global economy.
The most money can get tracked and traced where goods and services come from. This is called “provenance.” After the COVID- 19 epidemic, this became one of the most important things for many supply chains to do.
Companies in many industries can use blockchain technology to address rising consumers. Also, investors worry about their supply chains’ environmental and social responsibility.
Cross-border and remittance payments worth
433 billion. Other payment and banking services help people access financial services.
Keeping track of people’s identification documents is a way to stop fraud and identity theft.
It uses in contract and dispute resolution (
73 billion) and consumer engagement (
54 billion). It includes loyalty programs, opening it to a wide range of public and private industries.Gains in Regions
Asia is the place where blockchain technology is most likely to help the economy. The United States and China are most likely to enjoy blockchain technology. Each could make more than $400 billion. Germany, Japan, the UK, India, and France are all expected to gain more than $50 billion in net benefits.
China and Germany, which rely on manufacturing, stand to gain the most from improved provenance and traceability. Yet, the United States achieves the most from its use in securitization, payments, identity, and credentials.Benefits In Various Sectors
Public administration, schools, and hospitals expect to benefit the most at the industrial level. PwC thinks these businesses would make $574 billion by 2030 only if they used Blockchain’s benefits to the world of identity and credentials.
Meanwhile, marketers and construction services will enjoy using Blockchain. It is to engage customers and meet the demand for provenance and traceability. Firms that provide services like communications and media will benefit more generally.
Many firms make the common but fatal mistake of leaving the adoption of new technology up to the technophiles. It takes support from the C-suite to work and find strategic potential and value. Also, encourage collaboration within a sector. Given how much economic change companies are going through, developing proof-of-concept usage. It can expand and scale if it works. It will help firms find value while building trust and transparency in the solution’s ability to deliver on Blockchain’s promise.Conclusion
While nations with the best institutions may not see the need to adopt blockchain technology, the rest may view it as an opportunity to innovate in real-time. If they do, the potential for leapfrogging industrialized nations is limited only by the vision of billions of people. They will be experiencing 21st-century systems of governance and business for the first time. With such goals, it’s not unreasonable to expect some of the world’s next top megabrands or global platforms. They will emerge in regions that aren’t often associated with technical innovation. Blockchain development for the future is a worldwide phenomenon.
Related: Galaxy S21 FE review
This is definitely a win for the Samsung sales and marketing team then — one loyal customer signed up. But it begs the question of why Apple is not doing the same for its products. Would offering freebies to persuade people to buy an iPhone boost sales? Or would Apple consider it to be damaging to its brand? There are arguments to be made for both sides.
Nice freebies trump the camera
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
My wife was originally attracted to the Pixel 6’s camera. Indeed, our colleague Jimmy Westenberg called the Pixel 6 camera “versatile” and “upgraded.” My wife takes a lot of photos on a daily basis, so much so that she now has over 3,000 pictures of our dog alone. So the camera was definitely a factor, and she was getting ready to buy the Pixel as a result. Google even offered her a pair of Pixel Buds to go with it.
These freebies will push buyers into Samsung’s ecosystem, making it difficult to buy outside of the brand again.
But her head was turned when Samsung upped the ante and basically said, “I see your Pixel buds and raise you a pair of Galaxy Buds and a Fit 2 band.” It was almost like the two companies were competing for her money (which they should be). The much better reviewed Galaxy Buds and the fitness tracker — which will now motivate her to start that long-promised diet and fitness regimen — made her join Samsung’s camp once again. In fact, they will push her into the Samsung Health platform instead of Apple Fitness+, and will open her eyes to how everything works seamlessly together in the Samsung ecosystem, making it pointless to buy outside of the brand ever again.
What’s the best? Samsung Health vs Apple Health
Why doesn’t Apple go on the offensive?
Lily Katz / Android Authority
So why doesn’t Apple play the same game — turn Samsung and Google’s strategy against them, and start offering something extra at checkout? Granted, expecting a free $399 Apple Watch is a bit much to ask for, but what about a pair of the older second-generation Airpods to go with that shiny $799 iPhone 13? At only $129, would it hurt the company all that much if it tempted Android owners over to the “Dark Side” and locked them into the Apple ecosystem for life? The Galaxy Buds cost just a little less, and Samsung seems to have no problem giving them away.
Samsung has discovered a winning formula for enticing new customers, and it appears to be working.
If Apple gives a free gift to thank someone for their custom, it doesn’t necessarily have to be immediately seen as damaging the brand. It can be seen instead as good publicity and a welcome gift for a potential lifelong customer. Give them a peek at what they’re missing out on by opening the door slightly. That may very well entice them to then come inside and buy the whole shop. Refusing to be generous like Samsung might come across to some people as snobbish and slightly arrogant. Samsung has discovered a winning formula for enticing new customers, and it appears to be working.
This story has been updated. It was originally published on August 15, 2023.
Whether it’s endlessly scrolling through Twitter or binge-watching Netflix, technology is often to blame for keeping us up way too late. But our gadgets don’t have to be the culprits behind a bad night’s sleep—they can also help us wind down and rest as if we were sleepy toddlers all over again.
From reducing the distractions and eye strain linked to your phone, to setting up a pocket light projector that will have you nodding off in minutes, these apps and gadgets promise to get you a one-way ticket to Snoozeville.Set up Bedtime Mode on your Android phone
Use Wind Down on Android to reduce the temptation to check your phone. David Nield
On Android 9.0 Pie, Google introduced a special mode for getting you ready for bed called Wind Down. The feature has since changed its name to Bedtime Mode and now includes even more options to disconnect. You can turn it on by opening Settings, tapping Digital Wellbeing & parental controls, then Bedtime Mode.
The feature changes your phone in two ways. For one, it turns the entire interface to grayscale, not only to ease the pressure on your eyes, but also to make those colored icons less tempting. It also enables Do Not Disturb mode, which means no sounds or notifications from any apps—only alarms and calls from starred contacts will go through. Tap on Do Not Disturb for Bedtime Mode to see and edit the list of people you’ve chosen as your important contacts. If you’re not comfortable with total silence, you can create a list of apps that can override this mode. Just go back to Settings, Do Not Disturb, and then Apps. There you’ll be able to see the apps that can currently override the mode, and add more to the list by tapping on Add apps.
To make it a habit, you can schedule your phone to go in and out of Bedtime Mode automatically. Set it to turn on when you charge your phone at night, or at a specific time—maybe an hour before your bedtime—and have it switch off whenever your phone alarm is set to ring. Here you can also choose the days of the week you want to activate this setting.
Wind Down, Bedtime Mode’s precursor, had a Night Light option that could be used in tandem with, or instead of, the grayscale mode. It added a warm amber glow to the screen that reduced blue light—which has been linked with the disruption of our circadian rhythms—and therefore made it easier for you to feel sleepy. This feature is no longer linked to Bedtime Mode, but it lives on in Android 12. If it’s something you think you might benefit from, you can find it and turn it on by going to Display, then Night Light.Enable Downtime on your iPhone
Apple’s Downtime feature for iOS blocks access to certain apps when it’s time for bed. David Nield
Like Wind Down, Downtime is intended to put your phone into a Do Not Disturb mode, which is less distracting. It also limits access to apps of your choosing to prevent you from falling into the temptation of spending another few minutes scrolling through Instagram or Facebook—which, we all know, could turn into hours.
[Related: The best ways to cut screen time down across all your devices]
By default, when Downtime is active, most apps (except for a few including Safari, Clock, Settings, Maps, Messages and FaceTime) will be grayed out with a small hourglass icon next to them. If you try to launch one, you’ll get an alert that you’ve reached your time limit on that particular app. You can tap Ignore Limit to use the app for 1 minute, 15 minutes, or the rest of the day, but your phone will remind your limit after that time. This should at least be annoying enough to make you think twice about firing up Netflix late at night.Hit the app store
Noisli generates a whole host of sounds that will relax you or help you drift off to sleep. Noisli
Besides what Android and iOS offer, you can find a plethora of apps to help you relax and get drowsy before bed. A few of our favorites are listed here, but there are a ton of alternatives available, so it’s worth doing some hunting yourself.
Calm for Android and iOS is one of the most well-known and popular de-stressing apps out there because of its versatility—it covers everything from breathing exercises to stories designed to send you to sleep, and sessions can be as short as 3 minutes or as long as 25.
The app includes more than 30 natural sounds and scenes to help you chill out or nod off, and new ones are added daily. While some content (like the spoken meditations) requires a $60-per-year subscription, there’s enough stuff here to fully enjoy the app for free.
Noisli for Android and iOS will set you back $2 but is worth the investment. It lets you mix and match sounds like rain in the forest or a train along a track, then build them up in layers to create your perfect, never-ending chill-out mix. Experimenting with different sounds is a lot of fun, and the fade-out function lets you have the audio stop when you’re sleeping.
Pzizz for Android and iOS offers a combination of soothing sounds—such as melodic music or nature sounds—and voice cues to help you get to sleep faster. Do not use this app up while operating heavy machinery, because you could be out like a light within 10 minutes, based on our experience. The sounds you hear are generated with algorithms based on scientific research, so they change automatically to help lure you into the Land of Nod.
You get a limited number of sounds and narratives to listen to with the free version of the app, but that’s more than enough to decide if Pzizz is actually going to work for you. Pay $10 a month for the premium version, and you’ll unlock a lot more content.
If sounds don’t do it for you, there’s also Breathe2Relax. Available for Android and iOS, this app, as its name suggests, concentrates on breathing exercises. As well as teaching you how to breathe in a relaxing way, it explains the science behind it.Get some help from gadgets
The Dodow uses projected light to send you into a peaceful slumber. Dodow
If you feel like investing in an extra bit of tech to help you wind down for the night, you’ve got lots to choose from, so you can tailor a setup that perfectly fits you and the relaxation method you like best.
Most smart lights on the market come with built-in options for calming and relaxing scenes, such as swirling colors or colors that slowly fade to black. Lights from Philips Hue (the starter kit is $156 on Amazon and Lifx (bulbs from $35 on Amazon) can be programmed in various ways to get you in a chilled-out kind of mood.
[Related: 5 great spots for LED light strips around your home]
You might also want to consider a standalone smart light, something like the Dodow Sleep Aid device ($60 on Amazon). It uses timed breathing exercises based on lights projected on the ceiling above you to get you nodding off in record time, even if you usually have problems getting to sleep.
We also like this smart essential oil diffuser ($40 on Amazon), which can be controlled via an app or through an Amazon Echo or Google Home speaker. Set the level of mist you prefer, then add your preferred oils for a sweet-smelling, relaxing way to wind down at the end of the day.
If sound does it for you, you can always stick a favorite album or podcast if you want to get in some relaxation time, but in terms of dedicated devices, consider the LectroFan Evo ($45 on Amazon). It pumps out a variety of white noise sounds to help your mind zone out and get ready for bed. Another option is the Avantek 30 ($37 on Amazon), which comes with 13 nature sounds and five ambient sounds besides a white noise selection.
Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick is an author and educator whose work focuses on the culture, politics, and technology of social change. He lives in California, holds academic appointments at the University of San Diego’s Kroc School and the University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab, and is the author of several books, most recently The Good Drone: How Social Movements Democratize Surveillance. This story originally featured on MIT Press Reader.
The civil rights movement and Moore’s law are colliding to transform politics. On the street, smartphone technology is being used to document social life as never before, putting power into the hands of the public and making eyewitnesses of us all.
This same technology, bolted onto cheap and easy-to-fly drones, is also providing a birds-eye view of politics on the ground. Indeed, a recent explosion in the availability and affordability of drones has driven an uptick in their use in support of social movements. In the years since the first use of a drone to document a protest—a 2011 event organized against Russian president Vladimir Putin—they have been a consistent presence at protests in societies where democracy is under threat.
Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick is the author of “The Good Drone: How Social Movements Democratize Surveillance,” which is freely available via open access. MIT Press
A few years ago, during large-scale protests in Hungary, where media is increasingly controlled by the government, my students and I used a cheap consumer drone to capture footage of tens of thousands of people who had taken to the street to protest a proposed tax on the Internet. The government insisted it was a small crowd of cranks and anarchists, but our footage told a different story—and the proposed government policy ultimately failed.
More recently, drones are being deployed to events where a new vantage point helps activists better communicate their message. An entire article in the New York Times was dedicated to aerial images of anti-racism protests across the country and around the world. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the imagery was as stark as the message was clear: People everywhere stand in solidarity against police brutality.
Photographer Johnny Miller has traveled around the world in order to capture the abrupt line that divides rich and poor communities. It is a widely acknowledged fact that inequality is rising. Knowing facts doesn’t always drive public action; Miller’s activist photography strikes a more visceral note. Here too the imagery cuts through a clutter of charts and graphs in order to tell an important socio-economic story.
Protesters and journalists all over the world are incorporating drones into their toolkit, and the reason is simple: It allows them to tell a compelling story from a new perspective. Along the way it changes politics on the ground.
Of course, governments are deploying them as well: Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security used drones to monitor peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters, making at least 270 hours of footage available to other federal agencies and local police departments nationwide. That footage joins a growing arsenal of high-tech surveillance policing tools. Recent protests may have the unintended effect of pushing police forces off the streets and deeper into less visible and less accountable forms of coercion and control.
In an effort to better understand the other side of drone use, my team analyzed all non-governmental drone use, over a six-year period. We ended up with 15,000 stories, and when we crunched the data two trends emerged.
The first was that the thing many of us fear most—drones being used for spying and committing crimes—is actually quite rare. Those things do happen, and attract significant attention from the press. But at the end of the day, people tend to use technology in accordance with broader social values and commitments, and there are pretty broad social strictures against this kind of bad behavior. Simply put, social norms are fairly stable, so new tech doesn’t automatically unleash anarchy.
The second notable trend was the clear presence of disruptive drone use. By “disruptive” I simply mean the technology is being used to do something that is not politically or socially acceptable—something that disrupts the status quo. Documenting police abuse and highlighting urban inequality are examples that fit that definition neatly. Less disruptive examples include innovative scientists, conservationists, and activists using these small and affordable devices to document deforestation, monitor endangered animals, and track poachers.
Elsewhere, drones are being used to provide public services in hard-to-reach places. Every year I take my students to visit Zipline, a startup that got its start using drones to provide nation-wide distribution of medical supplies across Rwanda. These days you don’t need to go to Rwanda’s capital of Kigali to see Zipline in action. The California-based company is now running an emergency fulfillment center transporting personal protective equipment (PPE) in Kannapolis, North Carolina.
Zipline’s efforts to deliver plasma in Kigali and PPE in Kannapolis is clearly in service of the public good — an example of prosocial behavior — and is politically and socially acceptable: In other words, it’s not disruptive.
The use of drones during protests—especially to hold the powerful to account—is something quite different. When activists used a drone to document large-scale protests at Standing Rock, police responded by shooting them down. When independent journalists used drones to document war crimes in Syria, security forces responded by shooting them down. After we flew our drone in Budapest—and the protest made the cover of the international New York Times—the government quickly passed a new law that would prohibit similar coverage in the future. The reason for these responses is clear: From Standing Rock to Syria, drones are being flown for the public good and are challenging the political status quo.
After drone videos of protests were released in Budapest, the Hungarian government quickly passed a new law that would prohibit similar coverage in the future. International New York Times
Drones are in the process of democratizing surveillance in the air, but more must be done to ensure that access to public airspace is open to the public, rather than reserved for the exclusive use of large corporations like Amazon and powerful military interests like Homeland Security. Regulations that would allow this technology to evolve naturally have been stalled by a combination of public concerns related to privacy and security and national security concerns related to predominantly Chinese tech. It may seem like the easiest solution is to just give a handful of licenses to the already-powerful.
As a social movement scholar, I’m hoping this doesn’t happen. Instead I’m rooting for every city that has painted Black Lives Matter in bajillion-sized font that can be seen from space. I’m rooting for every protester that has used drones to monitor police behavior, and for every journalist that has used one to document the sheer size and scale of protests worldwide.
The moment we’re in right now is formed by the complex interplay of the social and the technological. Whether the payload is PPE headed for frontline workers, or an airborne camera trained on law enforcement, new technology, including drones, represent new opportunities to support one another and to hold the powerful to account.
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