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Simon commented on Drones in Isolation - Ahead of the Game

Hi Ashley and thanks very much for the question.

I guess this idea is a result of already having worked in PNG for over 20 years and being a part of various activities that attempted to overcome the rugged terrain to help provide services to isolated communities.
For example, a few years a go I managed a program that aimed to deliver school materials and collect various data from over 3000 school around PNG. The challenges in reaching these schools accounted for much of the funding and it was a hugely expensive and complex operation. One thing we noticed during this exercise was that next to schools in these locations there were normally health facilities and in these communities there were also micro business such as agriculture and tourism - all struggling in a range of areas but most noticeably in the areas of communication and access to information with the outside world.
Teachers and health workers often leave their posts to travel long distances to deliver paperwork or chase up their pays or collect resources. SME's stuggle to collect orders, be aware of prices for their products and other empowering information.
This led to thinking such as "there must be a better way" to maintain contact with these communities and with advances in technology it does seem possible.
Our organisation, Library For All, is currently involved in a successful program using tablets instead of traditional books to provide reading materials to schools in PNG. Our Challenge idea is an extension of what we are learning. The communities are quickly adopting new technologies and we believe that a mobile hot spot carried by a drone that visited these communities regularly could help all the sub groups mentioned with them downloading and uploading relevant info including teaching and learning materials, health data and requests, medical consultations, guest house bookings, mobile banking etc. This would address a lot of issues currently being faced by these communities. Of course, as drones become larger, eventually they could be used to deliver medicines, spare parts and other goods.
If our idea was successful we would start small by selecting communities that reflect the needs outlined above and then add services as they adopt the technology. Local health and education authorities would be key partners as well as other NGO's and community groups.
Hope the above helps!
Thanks Ashley.