Last week drone pilots, humanitarians from NGOs like the Red Cross and GlobalMedic, platform companies including DJI and Skycatch, and United Nations and aid agency representatives gathered at MIT for a meeting of the Humanitarian UAV Network (UAViators). I joined the experts meeting to share our tools for processing and publishing drone imagery.

UAViators was founded to organize, train, and develop best practices for the humanitarian use of UAVs. Over the past year UAViators members have led UAV missions from search and rescue in Nepal to damage assessment in Vanuatu after Cyclone Pam. Working with the permission and participation of affected communities, UAViators also works to build local drone capacity, including providing training and hardware to the newly formed Kathmandu Flying Labs.

Kathmandu Flying Labs, Kathmandu University, and UAViators teamed up with the the Community Disaster Management Committee of Kirtipur Municipality and local residents to map the town of Panga, Nepal. Printed imagery is being used to prioritize reconstruction work. Photo: Patrick Meier.

We put the finishing touches on the UN-endorsed humanitarian UAV code of conduct, one of many resources UAViators maintains for use by drone operators flying disaster response or conflict mitigation missions.

If you’re a qualified drone pilot or platform company looking to help or a humanitarian with a potential mission, check out the UAViators site and get in touch with @PatrickMeier. If you’re using UAVs for post-disaster or resiliency mapping and want a free Mapbox account, find me at or @mtirwin.