Big Brother Watching You

Will drones become a mechanical army in our neighborhoods?

Since writing my last post on Will Drones be Your new BFF or Your Worst Nightmaremany people have asked me what possessed me to write such an article. The answer is concern, concern for the welfare of my neighbors. I believe that over the next 3--5 years, drones will dominate our skies, and along with that, our neighborhoods.

As a Realtor of the past 40 years, I have seen many changes occur in real estate. However, the presence of drones surveilling our neighborhoods could be the biggest. Imagine looking out your bedroom window into the spider eye of the drone.

Drones are capable of not only recording your every movement but also collecting conversations. Drones could be at the other end of the party line. Will Big Brother’s new toy be watching us 24/7?

I have a mixed viewpoint.  Will they also protect us from criminals, theft, dangerous situations within our neighborhoods while also spying on us? Can we live with both? Can you? Is there a happy medium?

Camera Drone

Will Drones Be Your New BFF or Your Worst Nightmare?

.  .  .  .  My fascination with Drones

Will Drones Be Your New BFF or Your Worst Nightmare?

By the year 2020, we can expect to see up to 7 Million drones lurking in our skies. Its mere existence currently places it as one of the top new industries, predicted to generate $13.6 Billion in revenue between 2015 and 2018. By 2025, the annual revenue from drones could exceed $82 Billion. As with any new technology, there is good and bad. Drones could be your new BFF or your worst enemy.

National Security.

One of the main functions of drones is our national security. From securing our borders through its tracking devises to combating terrorism through pinpoint accuracy, the risk to our military personnel lessens, saving lives. Surveillance, reconnaissance, and military intelligence missions continue with the help of combat ready drones that offer an added layer of precision and protection.

Maintaining national security comes at a high cost. As budgets decrease and expenditures increase, the personal safety of our soldiers is compromised. US veterans in Iraq and Afghanistan (and recent wars) will file medical claims estimated to top $900 Billion from combat injuries, including psychological damage attributed to Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder. In a recent study by the US Military Department, suicides exceeded combat deaths at the rate of one per day, along with a high risk of alcohol and drug abuse, often leading to homelessness. This is a high cost to pay not only for our soldiers’ physical welfare but also their psychological stability.

Drones may be the perfect answer to this dilemma. An expense analysis shows that drones are cheaper to build than fighter jets, in some cases up to 95% less expensive as well as substantially less per flight hour to operate. The cost to produce, maintain, and fuel drones is significantly more economical than airplanes. In addition, their robotic resilience to sustain longer operational hours with accuracy supersedes their human counterpart. Looking at the bottom line, drones are more cost efficient, offering a viable option to rising expenditures along with limiting physical injuries and reducing boots on the ground warfare.

Domestic Wellbeing.

Not only is our national security a concern, but also our domestic well-being.  Our law enforcement agencies see many public safety benefits. Drone tactical surveillance safely scouts out criminals and threatening situations, without placing human lives in harm’s way. In fact, it was drones that targeted Osama bin Laden’s compound, contributing to his capture.

Missing children and adults are in the focused eye of the drone, 24/7, day or night, assisting police. With capabilities of scouting small tight spaces, drones accomplish search and rescue missions quickly. Even future use of accessing a potential school shooting can offer quick schematic analysis of the situation with potential lives saved.

With the assistance of fire fighters, drones will save more lives. Surveying potential fires, drones help search for victims in less time with less risk. Thermo-imaging cameras on drones can access the crisis level of the fire and identify victims possibly unseen by the human eye. Every second counts. The efficiency of the drones helps save more lives and property.

Border Patrols.

The United States uses drones for domestic surveillance Expanding US airspace, President Obama signed a bill which initiated one of the largest fleets of drones. The US Department of Homeland Security awarded more than 3 million in grants to various law enforcement agencies for this objective.

Armed with long-range cameras and night vision technology, these highly sophisticated soldiers prove their worth. Suspicious persons connected to drug cartels and terrorist groups are easily identified. Drug smugglers and illegal immigrants are subject to the scrutiny of new Predator Drones. Equipped with facial recognition imaging that is tied to a federal database, these mechanical soldiers offer enhanced tools for law enforcement Instead of pursuing criminals via traditional police helicopters which cost approximately 25 million, its counterpart drone will cost the same as a police cruiser, about $50,000.


Aside from saving and protecting lives and property, drones also offer great convenience. With our fast-paced lives enhanced by the Internet, along with every conceivable technological application tethered to our phone, car, or home, we still crave convenience. And we want more and more of it.

Big box stores like Amazon will offer its customers quick drone delivery within one half hour or less of purchase. UPS and FedEx may possibly offer the same with traditional wait times dramatically reduced from purchase to delivery.

Mid 2016, 7-Eleven announced that plans to deliver all their merchandise via unmanned drones is in their immediate future. They successfully tested it and will deliver sandwiches, drinks, snacks, etc. via their drone partner, Flirty. Their goal is to offer ultimate stress free delivery service to consumers whose busy lives need more time. Consumers will now have the luxury of having goods delivered quickly and without wait or drive time.

Imagine. What would make your life more convenient?  What if you forgot to buy a present for today’s celebration? What if a drone could deliver it within a few hours, just in time for the party? Or, for tonight’s family dinner have a delivery drone drop off those forgotten items without wasting gas or time? Or what about having a pizza actually delivered piping hot? Or how about that sweet craving you can’t live without, and you want it now.

All of this and more is possible with drones. Anything that can be ordered and delivered can be done by drones. It’s just a matter of time.


More Jobs. Drones are a driving force of the future. With its enhanced technology, there will be more demand for their services, commercial and non-commercial use. Along with demand comes jobs. Drones are Big Business. Supported by venture capitalists and technology companies, revenue from drones could exceed 5 Billion by 2019. By 2025, the US could see $90 Billion in annual revenue. The sky’s the limit, literally.

This is a golden opportunity for enormous job growth. Those of you who are technologically savvy will have employment doors swing wide open. Software geniuses will tap into their inner resources, awakening their dormant giant. Marketing and advertising gurus will thrive in an active arena while racing against time to discover the next consumer hot button. And for us, ordinary people, we will have other choices from entry level positions to CEO designations as we align ourselves with our mechanical partners. The exponential growth of drone services will create hundreds of thousands of future jobs.


Unregulated non-commercial use. Over the next 3 years, FAA predicts that personal drones will grow exponentially. Presently, personal or hobby use of drones, requires no authorization, and anyone can buy them online or in electronics stores. However, it is beyond mere personal interest.

Many of these computerized spiders are equipped with cameras, capturing whatever attracts the attention of the operator of the drone, from surveying a countryside to spying on your neighbor. Indiana has filed a bill that would prohibit picture taking without the subject’s approval Many additional states are exploring new laws that will define its boundaries and monitor its use.

The ACLU is particularly concerned. Facial recognition software, infrared technology, and speakers capable of monitoring personal conversations have several members of the committee requesting enforcement of strict laws, protecting the rights of citizens. The Hummingbird is tiny drone, programmed for stealth surveillance and has a wingspan of only 6.5 inches and weighs less than a single AA battery. Because it is an exact replica of an actual hummingbird, it causes concern that this unnoticed drone could potentially gather personal information without consent, violating our privacy.

Privacy Issues. 

As technology advances, privacy issues are challenged. Increased visibility of drones in our communities may become commonplace. From monitoring traffic to scouting public events to hovering over our neighborhoods, drones will collect and record all images and sounds in minute detail, some equipped with night vision technology.

Tracking could be everywhere. The loss of personal privacy may be the result. Texas lawmakers have proposed legislature to limit this eye in the sky intelligence, citing a violation of civil rights. By expanding the reach of our present GPS and satellite systems, drone cameras can gather detailed information for government, and, possibly, private use that may be a violation of our basic rights.

Big Brother.

As Big Brother watches from the sky, intelligence reconnaissance will be automatic and easy. Several lawmakers are concerned. They see this fleet of flying government drones as an invasion of not only our privacy but also our constitutional rights. Some worry that our every movement will be recorded. Our courts have voiced fear that we could soon enter George Orwell’s futuristic world where our conversations many miles away can be heard by strangers. The neighborhood watch program could take on a completely new meaning.

The misuse of drones without a search warrant is another major concern. Surveilling suspected criminals without an authorized search warrant could open the flood gates of gross misconduct of our judicial system. Would persons of interest become victims of this mechanical militia before our democratic legal process is even initiated?

Expanded Government. 

Many civil liberty organizations worry about our government transgressing into our private lives. Obtaining detailed intimate information about our daily activities could be detrimental to the ordinary citizen. Per an Associated press poll, one-third of Americans fear police use of drones and worry that it will lead to an erosion of privacy rights. Many states are already considering legislation restricting their use.

There could be less freedom. Citizens could be subject to 24/7 surveillance from not only governmental groups but also private organizations obtaining unauthorized knowledge of our habits and movements. This could result in loss of liberties as government and special interest groups use that information to serve their best interests while violating ours. As expressed by the ACLU, important decisions about drone regulation must be done democratically and efficiently, effecting all national airspace. Just venturing outside may become problematic.

Compromised Ethics.  

With such easy access to our every movement, drones may become the subject of several ethics debates. Will our freedom be jeopardized? The use of drones and its relationship to the Freedom Information Act has been widely debated. Obtaining detailed private information of citizens without their knowledge is of utmost concern. Many of the drones are practically invisible due to their small size. One, in particular, the Micro-Air Vehicle, produces vast amounts of private information secretly.

The US Supreme Court and state governments differ in its interpretation of individual rights with respect to aerial surveillance. The ability of anyone viewing subjects from the air is at the center of the debate. Some say, if it can be viewed from the air, it then is open range. Many disagree, especially if private companies are the ones doing the surveillance for their own self-interest. The line between surveillance of criminals versus stalking by paparazzi drones is questioned.

Having the capability to disperse crowds through an elaborate alarm system may place two of our basic freedoms in jeopardy. These alarm systems can emit a high-pitched sound to scatter crowds, along with the mere mass presence of the drones. Our basic constitutional rights of Freedom to Assemble and Freedom of Speech may be challenged. First Amendment rights of potential political dissidents could be violated. Who will decide when crowd control is needed? Who will decide when a specific individual should be targeted? Who will be profiled by the drones?

Who will address these concerns? Will the answers come from the operators of the drones or from groups that protect private citizens?

Let me know what you think: Enter your comment/reply at bottom of page.

Copyright © 2017 Joyce Freese. All Rights Reserved.

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