Eyes in the sky

Drones bring broader governance to construction projects in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.

Construction projects in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates now should expect governance oversight not only from inspectors on the ground, but also from the skies. A drone is being used to help inspectors record construction site violations.

“It is very accurate and definitely saves the inspectors’ time and efforts, as it allows the team to monitor every movement from the screen attached on the remote control and then note any violations by taking close pictures,” Saqr Ghobash, the minister of labor, told The National. Outfitted with a high-definition camera, the remote-controlled drone can cover 2 square kilometers (0.8 square miles) over its 15- to 20-minute battery lifespan, and it can fly as high as 1 kilometer (0.6 miles).

The ministry of labor introduced the technology last year to help inspectors monitor site violations—especially those of a midday-break law that protects laborers from the risks of extreme heat and sun exposure during the hottest months of the year. Several Middle Eastern countries have such a ban. In the United Arab Emirates, the ban, which has been in place for the past decade, lasts two and a half hours each day.

Before the ministry introduced the drone, it found that 56 project sites violated the midday ban during an almost two-month period in 2014. Yet that represented only 0.12 percent of the almost 45,000 sites inspected. With the new drone watching from above, it could be easier to catch violations. Projects caught violating the ban face thousands of U.S. dollars in fines as well as temporary suspensions. —M. Wright

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