Humanitarian organizations are increasingly turning to drones to support disaster response efforts. Yet many fail to use this technology effectively. Why? First, the majority of humanitarian organizations and drone companies are overly focused on the technology, which is problematic since technology is at most 5% of the solution in humanitarian drone missions. Second, they seem unable or unwilling to localize drone missions. In short, the use of drones in humanitarian action continues to be a largely top-down, techno-centric affair.
Participants in this training will learn everything they need to know to lead safe, responsible and effective humanitarian drone missions. Drones are at most 5% of the solution. This training covers the other 95%. Please see the video on the left and this syllabus for an overview of the key topics covered. The training is fully updated every year and also includes a special session on the use of drones in response to the COVID-19 emergency. Certificates of completion are signed by WeRobotics, Direct Relief, MIT and UPenn.
Scroll down for detailed course information.
The content for this online training draws directly on WeRobotics’ first-hand lessons learned and best practices in implementing, coordinating and supporting humanitarian drone trainings and operational deployments since 2015. The training also draws on the wider lessons learned and best practices from the broader community. The entire course content, which is shared in the formats below, is updated annually. The training includes:
- Fully customized slide deck with 400+ slides developed over 5+ years
- Total of 20 fully customized video presentations (10 minutes each on average)
- Over 20 supporting videos (e.g., drone deployments, lessons learned, etc.)
- Over 100 high-resolution photos (e.g., drones in action, field deployments, etc.)
- Select diagrams, charts, tables, studies, articles and reports
- Audio only version of online training can be made available
In addition, the training includes a dedicated drone deployment calculator to optimize humanitarian drone missions. Furthermore, the training comes with more than 30 recommended readings (optional) which have been carefully curated for this online training. Lastly, the training also includes a dedicated set of resources on drone pilot certification, drone regulations and an online training on drone data analysis for disaster response.
An official certificate will be awarded to participants who successfully complete the course. This certificate is signed by WeRobotics, Direct Relief, MIT & UPenn.
This training is a self-paced course which means anyone can join at any time. The course is led by video presentations and facilitated through a dedicated online forum. Recommended readings are provided and are optional. Participants will need to follow the video presentations, participate in the online forum and complete one short assignment to successfully complete the training. While participants may join the course at any time, they must successfully complete the course within 3 months to receive a certificate of completion. This certificate will be signed by MIT, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) and WeRobotics.
To get the most of out this training, you should plan to dedicate 8 hours, with an additional 2 hours for further reading and the final assignment.
This training is ideally suited for existing humanitarian professionals, drone pilots and airspace managers. That said, the training does not require prior technical knowledge of drones or disaster response experience. Technology is at most 5% of the solution in humanitarian drone missions. As such, anyone interested in the other 95% of what it takes to coordinate successful humanitarian drone missions will gain a lot by taking this training. If you’re still unsure whether this training is a good fit for you, then please see this video.
If you are a professional drone pilot, the fact that you have a drone pilot license does not automatically mean that you can add value in humanitarian efforts. As an analogy, the fact that I have a driver’s license doesn’t mean that I will win the next Formula One Grand Prix in Monaco.
Dr. Patrick Meier served as Executive Director of WeRobotics. He is an internationally recognized expert on Humanitarian Technology and holds a Remote Pilot License (RePL). Over the past 17 years, Patrick has worked in the Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Liberia, India, Philippines, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Timor-Leste, Turkey, Morocco, Western Sahara, Haiti, Peru, Vanuatu, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Cameroon, Northern Ireland and a dozen other countries. This work comprised a wide range of humanitarian technology projects with multiple international organizations including the United Nations, Red Cross, World Bank and 30+ other organizations and companies. In 2010, Patrick was publicly praised by President Clinton for his pioneering humanitarian technology deployments, which he continues to this day at WeRobotics.
Following the 2015 Nepal Earthquake, he was asked by the UN to coordinate the humanitarian drone response to the disaster. That same year, the World Bank asked him to coordinate the humanitarian drone response to Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu. He served as a senior consultant to the World Bank’s UAVs for Resilience Program and in this capacity field-tested a range of mapping drones for disaster risk reduction in the Pacific. Patrick has also supported humanitarian drone deployments in the wake of disastrous floods in Tanzania, Peru the South Pacific and the Caribbean. In addition, Patrick launched, coordinated and/or directly supported medical cargo drone projects in Peru, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Nepal and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He spearheaded the development of coordination mechanisms for the safe and rapid deployment of drones in disaster response for the World Food Program, which comprised running trainings in Peru, Dominican Republic, Myanmar and Mozambique. Patrick also spearheaded similar workshops and trainings for UNICEF and other humanitarian organizations.
In 2013, prior to WeRobotics, Patrick founded the international Humanitarian UAV Network (UAViators), the largest, global community of practice dedicated to the safe, responsible and effective use of drones in a wide range of aid, development and health contexts. UAViators includes over 3,000 members in over 120 countries. In his capacity as founder, Patrick spearheaded the development of the International Humanitarian UAV Code of Conduct (UAVCode.org) in collaboration with more than 60 aid and development professionals. Patrick also co-authored the most comprehensive report on humanitarian drones which was commissioned by ECHO: “Drones in Humanitarian Action: A Guide to the Use of Airborne Systems in Humanitarian Crises” and authored the report “Humanitarian UAV Missions: Towards Best Practices” and a chapter on “Humanitarian UAVs in Drones & Aerial Observation,” for an important Primer by the New America Foundation. Patrick’s book, Digital Humanitarians, has been praised by experts from Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Oxford, UN, Red Cross, World Bank, USAID, DfID, NetHope and others.
Patrick has received fellowships from MIT Solve, Stanford, Harvard, Rockefeller Foundation, UBS Global Visionaries, UNICEF Innovations and National Geographic. His innovative projects have been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CNN, BBC News, UK Guardian, The Economist, Forbes & Times Magazines, New Yorker, NPR, Newsweek, Wired, Mashable, TechCrunch, Fast Company, Nature, New Scientist, Scientific American & elsewhere. Patrick is also an internationally sought-out speaker, having given well over 200 talks in more than 20 countries across 6 continents. He has spoken at the Obama White House, UN, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Skoll World Forum, Club de Madrid, Mobile World Congress, Web Summit, PopTech, National Geographic, Thinking Digital, TTI/Vanguard, SXSW and 5 TEDx’s. His influential blog iRevolutions has received well over 2 million hits.
Patrick is also a distinguished scholar with a PhD from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, a Pre-Doctoral Fellowship from Stanford University, an MA from Columbia University and was a visiting student at UC Berkeley. In addition, Patrick was a Research Fellow at the Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO) and holds certificates in Complexity Science from both the Santa Fe Institute (SFI) and the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI). He has taught several professional, graduate and undergraduate courses.
Patrick was born and raised in Africa.
We’ve been designing and running professional humanitarian drone trainings since 2015. We’ve held these trainings in Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America and Europe for several dozen humanitarian organizations including national disaster management organizations and international organizations. To this end, we have benefited directly from hundreds of participant feedback over the years, which we have used to improve the training. In addition, the content of the training has been peer-reviewed by several seasoned humanitarian professionals since 2015. Last but certainly not least, sincerest thanks to Greg Crutsinger for his kind feedback on an earlier version on this training.
Feedback from past participants:
“WeRobotics covers absolutely everything that must be known on the subject.”
“I consider this course as THE most complete, credible and interesting course on the use of drones in disaster response.”
“The training was epic, I learned and gained a lot..wish to have more trainings like these in future!”
“Very satisfied, training is well structured, very real life examples; Patrick and his Team are very experienced in what they are presenting.”
“This training was well worth the time and effort to complete! A “must” for new drones teams or individuals in the humanitarian or disaster response fields.”
“WeRobotics knows it’s stuff. It’s obvious they are experienced and knowledgeable in the field. There is a lot that can be learned from them.”
“This training was a great experience and offered insights for both seasoned drone professionals and those looking to adopt this new and innovative technology.“
“One of the best courses about drones I have taken so far.”
“Excellent training, all satisfied with the class, recomendit 100%.”
“Taking the Drones in Humanitarian Action course by WeRobotics has been absolutely enlightening and eye-opening on the principles, code of conduct and best practices for leveraging drones to support humanitarian missions. The training was full of case studies drawn from the practical experience that the WeRobotics team has gathered over years on missions in different countries, making the entire training very practical. Thank you!”
“WeRobotics has done exceptional work in putting all the content together to provide eye-opening knowledge. The explanation and materials in this course is one of its kind and will not be available elsewhere. I thank WeRobotics for their hard-work in putting all this together and training people from all over the world in the right way.”
“A big thanks to Werobotics and especially Dr. Patrick Meier for giving me the opportunity to improve my knowledge on the use of drones in humanitarian actions and also offering me a scholarship. Now, I will be able to help and guide my country in setting up a regulatory framework for the responsible use of UAVs and also also contributeur to my PhD research. I encourage you to continue this training which is very important not only individually but internationally.”
“This was not only a great course on drones in the humanitarian field, but on drones in general.”
“The content of the course and the approach to training was really well done; covering a lot of interesting introductory information and real world examples about the use of drones in a humanitarian and crisis context.”
“This training is an excellent starting point for those who are planning to use drones in the humanitarian context.”
“The course certainly lived up to my expectations and I can’t wait to get started working with drones. Patrick is extremely knowledgeable about the field, drilling down to topics that most would not think about. I highly recommend it!”
“I have a very specific goal of working in the humanitarian drone space, and there aren’t many opportunities out there to learn about emerging technology in that area, so for me, this training was very unique. What this really provides is specialized knowledge and application, and the ability to connect with people from all around the world and hear personally from leaders in the space makes it beneficial for everyone from drone novices to nonprofit employees.”
“The WeRobotics team are obviously experts in what they do and they also proved to be experts in delivering the Drones in Humanitarian Action Course to people from all over the globe. All the participants were engaged and that’s due to how this course was structured and delivered form and content. Well done WeRobotics team and Thank you.”
“Being an Assistant Professor (in robotics related subjects), I found this online course very useful. We are in the process of establishing “Aerial Robotics Lab” in Pakistan and the course highlighted some of the very important issues that we were not aware of. I really appreciate the efforts of organizers of this online course.”
“For quite some time, I have been looking for resources to learn usage of drones in humanitarian work but had not stumbled upon one until I was introduced to this course. This is a truly refreshing course filled with insights, knowledge, practical applications and the vision for the use of drone technology in humanitarian work. I would not hesitate to recommend a colleague for this course. Its truly beneficial. The discussion forums are an eye opener and provide rich resources for learning about drones”
“This course is a great introduction to the basics of drones in humanitarian organisations and aid. For everybody who is new to the field and does not have an extensive background in drones or GIS.”
“This training has made me learn deep insights about drones in humanitarian which will help my Country Malawi in many aspects. I will use my skills to help the government in the area of disaster response and NGO’s operating in this field.”
WRobotics course “Drones in Humanitarian Actions” was a great and very useful experience for me. Patrick and team are focused on efforts to implement the most innovative ideas using drones in several contexts and provided me with very detailed information and a strong background, which will be the backbone of my future experience with drones. WeRobotics is definitively the perfect starting point to explore a technology with ever bigger future applications. I am also grateful to the colleagues who attended the course as they shared, together with Patrick, tips and precious information.”
“One of my goals this year was to get a drone pilot certification. I can confidently say that enrolling to this course was a step in the right direction considering the fact that there are no such courses in my country.”
“This course was a great introduction to the Humanitarian use of Drones. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about the field or participating in this important work.”
“This course shapes the future of humanitarian response in emergencies.”
“I am amazed with the content, guidance and experience sharing.”
“The lessons included real-life experiences of the presenters, who are leading the way in the field of Humanitarian Drone Missions. Their willingness to openly share their knowledge and experiences made the class interesting, informative and beneficial. It is a thorough overview that explores each facet of humanitarian drone missions; I highly recommend the training to anyone working in this field.”
“This training allowed me to have access to a mine of information easily accessible in one place and also open my eyes on some specific topics that I was less familiar with (e.g. drone data and analytics).”
“This training is wonderful because of the expertise of the instructors and the amazing cohort of people taking the course!”
“The training by WeRobotics should be standard training for any type of drone application, not just humanitarian response. Additionally, their work with drones in humanitarian response actions is critical. Supporting their work with just a fraction of the venture capital thrown at drone startups would provide a more noble return on investment.”
“This course was an important added value for my certification as a drone pilot and mandatory for all people that want to be a Humanitarian Drone team leader. Many of the themes and experiences exposed were really useful.”
“I would highly recommend this training to my fellow drones enthusiast.”
“This training has given me a good glimpse into how humanitarian missions are supported using drone technologies. I am hoping to utilise the knowledge from this training into extending similar work in my own country.”
“Basics on the use of unmanned aerial systems in humanitarian settings by hardline professionals who really know what they are telling about.”