USA Drone Port pioneers aerial drone messaging to support public awareness about healthcare options

By Robert Donnan
USA Drone Port

The USA Drone Port has teamed up with the UK Center of Excellence in Rural Health (UKCERH) to test innovative aerial drone technologies that can increase public awareness about healthcare services, including Covid-19 vaccination opportunities, across Eastern Kentucky as well as in neighboring counties in West Virginia.

Starting in November, the USA Drone Port will conduct unmanned drone flights that deliver informational leaflets to citizens in public gathering places, such as the parking lot of a major shopping center, over a 32-county region in Appalachian Kentucky. The Drone Port also is developing the capacity for its drones to pull an aerial banner as well as to broadcast spoken messages from a loudspeaker.

These unique approaches to drone messaging likely will prove invaluable in times of blackout situations, such the ice and snowstorms Central Appalachia experienced at the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic in March 2020. UKCERH will coordinate the drone flights with the deployment of its own resources, including the lay health workers that Kentucky Homeplace has stationed in many rural mountain communities.

“We’re providing a unique way of delivering the message, one that's really not been done before in the United States,” observed Bart Massey, the USA Drone Port’s executive director. “We've had to invent machines to drop leaflets. We’re developing ways to pull banners behind drones. Right now, that's not been used before, especially to promote anything in health care.”