Drones for Delivering Results for Children - INNOVATION CASE STUDY - EVALUATION OFFICE - UNICEF

 
Drones for Delivering Results for Children - INNOVATION CASE STUDY - EVALUATION OFFICE - UNICEF
INNOVATION CASE STUDY
November 2019

Drones for Delivering Results for Children

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EVALUATION OFFICE
Drones for Delivering Results for Children - INNOVATION CASE STUDY - EVALUATION OFFICE - UNICEF
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Drones for Delivering Results for Children - INNOVATION CASE STUDY - EVALUATION OFFICE - UNICEF
Evaluation of Innovation in UNICEF Work
Case Study: Drones for Delivering Results for Children

© United Nations Children’s Fund, New York, 2019
United Nations Children’s Fund
Three United Nations Plaza
New York, New York 10017
November 2019

The purpose of publishing evaluation reports produced by the UNICEF Evaluation Office is to fulfil a
corporate commitment to transparency through the publication of all completed evaluations. The
reports are designed to stimulate a free exchange of ideas among those interested in the topic and
to assure those supporting the work of UNICEF that it rigorously examines its strategies, results, and
overall effectiveness.

The contents of the report do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of UNICEF. The views
expressed in this report are those of the evaluators. The text has not been edited to official publication
standards and UNICEF accepts no responsibility for error. The designations in this publication do not
imply an opinion on the legal status of any country or territory, or of its authorities, or the delimitation of
frontiers.

This case study report for the Drones for Delivering Results for Children is one of thirteen innovation
case studies which were conducted as part of a global evaluation titled ‘Evaluation of innovation in
UNICEF work’. The case study component of the evaluation was conducted by Deloitte LLC. The
Drones for Delivering Results for Children case study report was prepared by Edward Thomas,
Katherine Arblaster, Ariel Kangasniemi, Laura Maxwell and Adarsh Desai. Beth Plowman, Senior
Evaluation Specialist, Evaluation Office, led and managed the overall evaluation process in close
collaboration with UNICEF Malawi and Vanuatu country offices, UNICEF Office of Innovation, and
UNICEF Supply Division.

The copyright for this report is held by the United Nations Children’s Fund. Permission is required to
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See innovation case studies at: https://www.unicef.org/evaldatabase/index_103533.html.

For further information, please contact:

Evaluation Office
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New York, New York 10017
evalhelp@unicef.org

Copyright of photos:

Cover photo:            © Ariel Kangasniemi
Page 28:                © Ariel Kangasniemi

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Drones for Delivering Results for Children - INNOVATION CASE STUDY - EVALUATION OFFICE - UNICEF
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This case study report was commissioned by the UNICEF Evaluation Office. This case study report is the
result of the commitment, efforts and contribution of a large number of individuals and institutions. The
Evaluation Office wishes to thank the many colleagues who gave freely of their time for this
evaluation. In particular, the team thanks the UNICEF Malawi Country Office for its support in
arranging logistics for field travel and coordinating visits to the drone corridor. In addition,
acknowledgement is given to all stakeholders who provided valuable feedback on the innovation
process. This includes representatives from the Malawi Civil Aviation Authority, local community health
offices, private sector, peer organizations, UNICEF Office of Innovation, UNICEF Supply Division, and
the UNICEF Vanuatu Country Office. To protect the confidentiality of all participants, names of case
study informants are not identified or attributed to specific comments or perspectives. Thanks to
Celeste Lebowitz, Geeta Dey and Dalma Rivero of the Evaluation Office for administrative support
and Laura Gagliardone for support in finalizing the report.

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Drones for Delivering Results for Children - INNOVATION CASE STUDY - EVALUATION OFFICE - UNICEF
TABLE OF CONTENTS

List of acronyms ........................................................................................................................................................... 5
1. INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................................................................... 9
2. INNOVATION AT A GLANCE .............................................................................................................................. 10
3. CONTEXT FOR DEVELOPMENT OF DRONES .................................................................................................... 12
      3.1 Development/humanitarian context ...................................................................................................... 12
      3.2 Innovation context ...................................................................................................................................... 13
      3.3 UNICEF programme context ..................................................................................................................... 14
4. THE INNOVATION JOURNEY FOR DRONES ...................................................................................................... 15
5. DRONES FIELD TESTING ....................................................................................................................................... 23
      5.1 DRONES field trials: Malawi ........................................................................................................................ 24
      5.2 Lessons learned ............................................................................................................................................ 25
6. FINDINGS .............................................................................................................................................................. 29
      6.1 Approach dimension .................................................................................................................................. 29
      6.2 Organization dimension ............................................................................................................................. 37
      6.3 Resources and capabilities dimension .................................................................................................... 40
      6.4 Incentives and outcomes .......................................................................................................................... 40
7. CONCLUSIONS AND CONSIDERATIONS ......................................................................................................... 44
Annex A: Methodology ............................................................................................................................................ 47
Annex B: List of stakeholders engaged ................................................................................................................. 50
Annex C: List of documents consulted ................................................................................................................. 51

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LIST OF ACRONYMS

BVLOS    Beyond Visual Line of Sight
CO       Country Office
CAA      Civil Aviation Office
DC       Drone Corridor
DFAT     Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
DFID     UK Department for International Development
EID      Early Infant Diagnosis
EO       Evaluation Office
MCO      Malawi Country Office
NGO      Non-Governmental Organization
OCHA     Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
OI       Office of Innovation
POC      Point of Contact
RFT      Request for Tender
RPAS     Remotely Piloted Aircraft System
SD       Supply Division
ToR      Terms of Reference
UAS      Unmanned Aircraft System
UAV      Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
UN       United Nations
UNICEF   The United Nations Children’s Fund
USAID    The United States Agency for International Development
UTM      Unmanned Air System Traffic Management
WFP      World Food Programme

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Since 2014, UNICEF has embraced innovation                development sector, including within the United
as one of its key strategies to achieve results for       Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Beginning in
children. That commitment is reaffirmed in its            2015, the earliest explorations by UNICEF in the
current Strategic Plan, 2018-2021, and is                 area of drones were primarily characterized by
evident in the organization’s programming and             activities that sought to uncover the potential
institutional architecture. Indeed, since 2014,           and cost feasibility of the technology in low
significant progress has occurred in a relatively         infrastructure environments. Dried blood spot
short period of time, backed by clear strategic           sample test flights, use of the technology for
intent and targeted investment. With the                  flood mapping and preparedness and testing
increased foothold of innovation in UNICEF, it is         sites in the low-infrastructure environments of
important and timely to take stock of these               Malawi and Vanuatu were originally intended
efforts through high quality evidence to inform           to help UNICEF learn more about the
decision-making, learning and accountability.             technology, connect with potential partners,
In keeping with the need for this evidence,               socialize the technology with government and
UNICEF conducted an global evaluation of                  identify potential benefits to children from its
innovation in 2018.                                       use.

The objective of the global evaluation was to             From the outset, governments have been
assess UNICEF’s ‘fitness for purpose’ to employ           considered     critical enablers    of   drone
innovation as a key strategy to achieve the               applications, and for many innovators, viewed
outcomes and goals defined in its strategic               as a target user of the technology. Innovators
plans covering the period 2014-2021. A set of             have indicated that this is primarily due to
innovation case studies was a key element of              government’s regulatory role and the potential
this global evaluation, along with an                     drones offer to improve the efficiency and
organizational assessment and a synthesis                 effectiveness of health and emergency
project. The case studies were guided by three            operations led by government. As such,
objectives:                                               capacity building and collaboration with
                                                          government has been a critical area of work in
•   To provide detailed descriptions of a set of          all countries where UNICEF has explored the use
    innovations across stages of the                      of drones. For example, UNICEF has provided
    development continuum inclusive of                    technical support for development of
    contextual influences                                 regulatory frameworks for drones in Malawi and
•   To assess the application of innovation               Vanuatu.
    principles or other standards for a set of
    innovations with particular attention to              Compared to early explorations, today’s drone
    issues of ownership and scale                         activities in Kazakhstan, Malawi and Vanuatu
•   To produce clear conclusions and                      are increasingly focused on the long-term
    considerations for policy, strategy and               sustainability and scalability of specific use
    management decisions to further enhance               cases. This has therefore included consideration
    innovation as key change strategy.                    of the broader drone support ecosystem in
                                                          operating countries, such as the presence of
Case studies were conducted by Deloitte LLP               capable service providers and drone flight
over the period February 2018-January 2019.               operators. Country Offices in Malawi and
Mixed methods were utilized for data                      Vanuatu have also focused their efforts on
collection including key informant interviews,            demonstration and refinement of specific use
document review and observations in the field.            cases, particularly in the health sector, and
                                                          further strengthening of the drone ecosystem.
The innovation case examined in this report               The forward-looking focus on demonstration (as
concerns the Drones for Delivering Results for            opposed to experimentation) of drones as a
Children. Drones are a relatively new, untested           viable technology for humanitarian use is
technology    in   the     humanitarian    and            positioned as enabling the scalability of drone

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solutions through formal integration into                transparency did not present as significant a
government supply chains. Innovators are now             barrier.
considering the supporting organizational
structures and processes needed to enable the            Beyond organization dynamics between the
use of drones by government, with Supply                 Office of Innovation and country offices,
Division providing input on procurement and              organizational factors that commonly limit
contracting processes.                                   innovation, such as resistant or apathetic
                                                         leadership and cultural resistance to change
The UNICEF Office of Innovation and individual           and risk taking, were not commonly cited as
country offices have collaborated on                     barriers to the innovation process.
exploration of drone applications, with varying
degrees of success. Challenges encountered               Considering the scale of investment (less than
through those collaborations primarily related to        US$500,000) used for the work described in this
a miscommunication of expectations between               case study, the extent by which UNICEF has
the Office of Innovation and country offices             mobilized government and the private sector is
and a perceived lack of transparency on                  impressive with respect to efficiency. Resources
decision-making        priorities       between          provided to partners have taken many forms,
stakeholders.                                            from country office contracts for delivery of
                                                         specific outputs such as studies and reports to
Misalignment of expectations: while no formal            UNICEF (supply chain strengthening) to
agreement on the roles of the Office of                  investments offered by the Office of
Innovation and country offices has been                  Innovation’s Innovation Fund to facilitate costs
documented, it was assumed that the Office of            for private sector actors to utilize testing
Innovation would act as a relationship broker for        platforms. In particular, the prevalence of
key global drone ecosystem relationships. The            available funding from donor organizations for
Office of Innovation was expected to provide             the exploration of drones has aided UNICEF in
country offices access to those individuals and          conducting innovation in the area of drones.
organizations. The Office of Innovation has              Vanuatu received a substantial investment from
succeeded in forming partnerships with global            the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs
partners,    such   as     major     aerospace           and Trade (DFAT) for future work in this space.
corporations; however, there is limited                  Discussions are ongoing with the UK Department
evidence of meaningful involvement of global             for International Development (DFID) for
ecosystem partners with country offices.                 additional phases of work on supply chain
                                                         strengthening in Malawi.
Perceived     lack    of    transparency     and
misalignment on decision-making approach: in             With respect to capabilities, this case found
Malawi, where drone work was already                     formalized strategies around knowledge
underway before the involvement of the Office            gathering and dissemination during early
of Innovation, the establishment of a corridor for       experimentation to be lacking. This has led to
testing was perceived as being carried out               clear differences in the availability of lessons
without careful examination and evidence-                learned from activities conducted to date,
gathering prior to investment. Country Office            resulting in reliance on a small group of
informants indicated that the corridor lacked a          knowledge-holders for exploration of drone
clearly articulated Theory of Change and                 activities in new country offices. Where
specific objectives and outcomes for children.           technical expertise is needed, UNICEF must
Ultimately, lack of formal evidence gathering            draw from outside the organization. Therefore,
by the Office of Innovation to support decision-         collaboration with external partners, such as
making was perceived by some Country Office              drone service providers and peer organizations,
informants as leading to an over-reliance on             is a strong priority for innovators.
assumptions, ultimately compromising the
innovation process from their perspective. In            Considering the limitations of UNICEF’s technical
Kazakhstan and Vanuatu, where no drone                   capabilities and the support system needed to
investments were present prior to involvement            effectively deploy drones, UNICEF’s ability to
of the Office of Innovation, governance and              effectively attract and collaborate with

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government, the private sector (specifically,
drone service providers) and, to a lesser extent,
academia, is necessary for the success of early-
stage testing activities. Providing tangible value
to partners, either financial or non-financial, has
been identified as a critical incentive in
enabling the innovation process at UNICEF. It
has not always been clear what value
proposition UNICEF is providing to as a partner
to private sector. Previously, UNICEF offered
limited financial support to organizations testing
in the Malawi drone corridor, limiting
accessibility of the corridor to a small subset of
organizations. With these lessons in mind, the
Office of Innovation has enhanced the funding
available for drone organizations and explored
new approaches to create sustainable
partners. In particular, the use of a government
tendering process in Vanuatu for delivery of
vaccines is positioned by the Office of
Innovation as a strong incentive for involvement
of the private sector.

Given the early stage of drones at UNICEF, it is
challenging to identify specific incentives for
adoption of drones by humanitarian actors and
government. As discussed above, a lack of a
coherent Theory of Change, results framework
and metrics for drone outcomes activities may
make the demonstration of outcomes for
children challenging. With knowledge of the
limitations of a case study approach, a number
of indirect outcomes from work conducted to
date have been proposed by informants.
Specifically, UNICEF has likely contributed to
growing interest in drones for humanitarian use
by peer organizations. This is primarily due to the
early risks taken in Malawi with the
establishment of the drone corridor and other
drone activities in the country. Considering its
role as a partner in all areas where UNICEF has
worked, UNICEF may have also influenced the
acceptance        of   drone     technology      by
government, and therefore, development of an
enabling environment for drones in some
countries (through development of permissive
regulatory frameworks).

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1. INTRODUCTION

The world is changing faster than ever before,          designed with three core components
and so too are the challenges facing its most           including: an organizational assessment, a set
vulnerable. Conflict and displacement,                  of innovation case studies and a synthesis
disasters and climate change, urbanization              project.
and disease outbreaks are growing
increasingly complex and inter-related,                 The case studies are intended to serve
demanding new strategies and approaches.                organizational learning by unpacking and
Innovation for development – exploring new              examining the multiple pathways and
ways of delivering programmes, with new                 dynamics which underpin innovation within the
partners and new technologies – is increasingly         organization. In addition, the case studies
recognized as crucial to meeting the                    contribute to accountability by assessing the
Sustainable Development Goals and the                   manner in which innovation work in practice
promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable              reflects the strategies and principles which
Development.                                            UNICEF has developed to guide these efforts.

Since 2014, UNICEF embraced innovation as               Three objectives guided the work:
one of its key strategies to achieve results for
children. That commitment is reaffirmed in its          •   To provide detailed descriptions of a set of
current Strategic Plan, 2018-2021, and is                   innovations across stages of the
evident in the organization’s programming and               development continuum inclusive of
institutional architecture. Indeed, since 2014,             contextual influences
significant progress has occurred in a relatively       •   To assess the application of innovation
short period of time, backed by clear strategic             principles or other standards for a set of
intent and targeted investment. A number of                 innovations with particular attention to
formal structures have evolved, and new                     issues of ownership and scale
milestones achieved.                                    •   To produce clear conclusions and
                                                            considerations for policy, strategy and
With the increased foothold of innovation in                management decisions to further enhance
UNICEF, it is important and timely to take stock            innovation as key change strategy.
of these efforts through high quality evidence
to inform decision-making, learning and                 Cases are defined as the processes an
accountability. In keeping with the need for            innovation was identified, developed, tested,
this evidence, UNICEF conducted an global               implemented and taken to scale along with
evaluation of innovation in 2018. The                   contextual factors such as underlying
evaluation comes at a time when the                     organizational and partnership arrangements.
organization is considering how best to                 The primary audience for the case studies is
maximize its resources for innovation and is            internal to UNICEF including senior
intended to inform those decisions in an                management and programme managers at
impartial manner, backed by credible                    HQ, regional and country level. Its uses include
evidence.                                               informing the implementation of the Strategic
                                                        Plan 2018-2021 particularly the change
The objective of the evaluation was to assess           strategy focused on innovation. UNICEF
UNICEF’s ‘fitness for purpose’ to employ                commissioned Deloitte LLP to conduct thirteen
innovation as a key strategy to achieve the             case studies to examine innovation across the
outcomes and goals defined in its strategic             spectrum of innovation types, country contexts
plans covering the period 2014-2021. It also            and internal (UNICEF) and external (partner,
sought to provide insights on how innovation            supplier) actors.
contributes to UNICEF’s goals and objectives,
as well as how innovation might contribute to           All case studies were structured around a
increasingly effective organizational responses         modified version of the Deloitte Doblin
in the coming years. The global evaluation was          Framework for Innovation. Within this

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framework, four thematic dimensions (i.e.                and perceived access to the government.
approach, organization, resources and                    However, the financial resources of these
capabilities and metrics and incentives) are             organizations were limited compared to larger
seen as necessary to enable successful                   organizations and ultimately, limited UNICEF’s
innovation. Case studies employed a mixed                ability to form long-term mutually beneficial
methods approach to build a complete                     partnerships. With respect to the drone
picture of the innovation process and identify           corridor, relationships with these organizations
findings related to these four thematic                  were, for the most part, short-term and
dimensions. The evaluation team collected                primarily transactional.
qualitative and quantitative data through
desktop review, case study informant                     Identifying and articulating the markers of a
interviews and field visits. More information on         poor or failing approach to testing early on
the methods used appears in Annex A. A listing           can aid innovators in proactively identifying
of stakeholders and interviewees appears in              solutions with internal and external
Annex B. Documents reviewed appear in                    collaborators, before mismatched
Annex C.                                                 expectations erode collaborative relationships.
                                                         Innovators should focus on ‘failing smart’, as
The innovation case examined in this report              opposed to simply failing fast, taking time to
concerns the Drones for Delivering Results for           reflect on what was not achieved and why,
Children.                                                and applying lessons learned to future
                                                         approaches in a thoughtful manner.
Exploration of new technologies necessitates
collaboration – both within UNICEF and                   The pace of innovation should be tempered
beyond, and requires careful consideration of            by sufficient processes for evidence-based
the capacity and suitability of partners at              decision-making. Establishing at minimum a
different points in the innovation process.              coherent Theory of Change for innovation
Capacity building of critical ecosystem                  activities can aid innovators working globally,
partners for scaling, particularly government            regionally and locally to develop similar
partners, is critical to long-term success.              expectations of one another and the
However, as evidenced in early drone                     innovation process and help them to align on
collaborations in Malawi, innovators exploring           a shared vision of ‘success’ during
new technologies with partners are bound to              experimentation. To support evidence-based
experience challenges during collaboration.              decision-making and help innovators fail smart,
These can stem both from organizational                  UNICEF could encourage innovators to outline
factors as well as the pressures of an innovation        goals for capturing lessons learned at the
process arising from risk-taking more generally.         outset of a new innovation process.
They can also stem from an inadequate
consideration of the appropriate or most                 This report includes information on the context
critical partners during the innovation process.         for the development of Drones (Section 3), the
Consider the example of academia and                     innovation journey (Section 4), field testing
startup companies. Both the Malawi and                   (Section 5), findings (Section 6) and
Vanuatu drone corridors were considered                  considerations for UNICEF and conclusions
appealing to these stakeholders, given the               (Section 7).
freedom for Beyond Visual Line of Sight Flights

2. INNOVATION AT A GLANCE

Description

UNICEF is currently in the early stage of
exploring applications of drones, drone

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technology and drone-based services1,2 in a                          •   Indirect exploration of drones: The Office of
humanitarian context. The potential                                      Innovation, in collaboration with country
application of drones to deliver results for                             offices, has established collaborative
children is under exploration in a variety of                            platforms for exploration of the use of
formats. At UNICEF, drones are viewed as                                 drones by hardware and software
offering potential value through three                                   developers, researchers, and service
applications – imagery, transport and                                    delivery organizations. These platforms are
connectivity3 (Error! Reference source not f                             described as low-risk testing spaces for the
ound.1).                                                                 identification of use cases (that may be
                                                                         relevant to UNICEF or others) and testing of
     Figure 1. UNICEF areas of use for drones                            analytical software for data collected by
                                                                         drones. To some extent, they are also
                                                                         positioned by UNICEF as a tool for
                                                                         development of enabling ecosystems in
                                                                         challenging drone aviation environments.
                                                                         For example, UNICEF has set up drone
                                                                         corridors (DC) for testing activities in
                                                                         Kazakhstan, Malawi and Vanuatu4. In those
                                                                         corridors, beyond visual line of sight
                                                                         (BVLOS) flights, which are often restricted
                                                                         by regulators in North America and Europe,
                                                                         are/will be allowed.

                                                                     Intended innovation outcomes
UNICEF’s involvement in exploring and
applying the use of drones in these                                  •   For direct applications of drones by UNICEF
applications is growing.                                                 and humanitarian partners, outcomes
                                                                         relate to operational improvements,
•   Direct applications of drones: Some UNICEF                           offering more cost efficient or effective
    country offices are considering the use of                           approaches that enhance the ability to
    drones to address specific challenges in                             deliver results for children. Where drones
    programming and for use during                                       are positioned within the larger health
    emergencies. For example, UNICEF                                     supply chain (such as in Malawi), other
    deployed drones as part of a government                              positive outcomes may also relate to cost
    response to flooding in Malawi in order to                           savings and improved health outcomes for
    conduct a rapid disaster and needs                                   adults, including mothers5.
    assessment in otherwise unreachable
    areas.                                                           •   For more indirect applications, immediate
                                                                         outcomes generally relate to the creation
                                                                         of greater understanding of drone

1 For simplicity, this case study will use the catch-all term        launch and recovery equipment. Unmanned Air System
drones to refer to different aspects of drones and the               Traffic Management (UTM) refers to software that manages
drone support system. This includes hardware and software            the traffic of numerous drones within a given airspace, with
providers and drone service providers, regulators, drone             limited user-intervention.
pilots and other ecosystem participants.                             3 Source: UNICEF internal briefing note, shared with
2 It is important to note that use of the term drones is             potential partners. (N.d.) Drones at UNICEF.
associated with a variety of connotations and jargon is              4 Source: Internal documents. Status updates to Innovation

common in the industry. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)                Fund. (N.d.) Vanuatu, Kazakhstan and Malawi Drone
and drone are commonly used interchangeably. Remotely                Corridor 6 month updates.
Piloted Aerial System (RPAS) is a term more commonly used            5 Source: External report. Drones in Humanitarian Action.

in military scenarios, but is also used by UNICEF in some            (N.d.). Drones in Humanitarian Action: A Guide to the use
contexts. The term unmanned aircraft system (UAS) refers             of airborne systems in humanitarian crises. Retrieved from
to the unmanned aircraft and all of its components                   https://drones.fsd.ch/wp-
including, but not limited to: control stations and software,        content/uploads/2016/11/Drones-in-Humanitarian-
remote controls (if necessary), control links, payloads and          Action.pdf.

                                                                11
technology by UNICEF and governments,                     be involved in using software and still others
        establishment of a network of potential                   may only interact with data outputs. Take, for
        support system partners, and creation of                  example, the use of drones to collect imagery
        guidance for practical applications of                    in a crisis situation. A UNICEF operations staff
        drones at UNICEF. This work is positioned as              member may be trained to fly a drone to
        having potential to bring ‘organisation-                  collect imagery, or a government partner may
        wide coherence and effectiveness to                       hire a service provider to fly the drone.
        understanding and procuring drone-based                   Meanwhile, another UNICEF programme
        technologies and services’6 for in-country                division staff member might be taking data
        operations. In this way, it may create                    collected from flights and analysing it using
        bridges for UNICEF or UNICEF partners to                  sophisticated software. In this case, all
        use drones directly in specific scenarios.                individuals involved would be considered users.

Compared to the indirect exploration activities                   A user could also be described in terms of who
underway, direct applications of drones are                       gets the benefits from whatever purpose for
more easily linked to immediate outcomes for                      which the drone is being utilized. If it is imagery
children.                                                         during flooding scenarios, then the users could
                                                                  be emergency responders better able to
Innovation users                                                  identify damaged areas and locate survivors. If
                                                                  the drone is delivering blood samples, then the
It is challenging to clearly define an innovation                 users could be healthcare providers and
user for drones. As with any technology, there                    laboratories.
can be a variety of users – some users will
directly interact with the hardware, others may

3. CONTEXT FOR DEVELOPMENT OF DRONES

                                                      Key takeaways

    •    Interest in using drones for non-military purposes has grown in the last five years, with the advent of
         affordable consumer drones and new investments by major technology companies
    •    Use of drones is challenged by restrictive regulatory frameworks in most countries, with governments
         struggling to manage the use of drones due to safety, privacy and security concerns
    •    A variety of humanitarian organizations are considering the use of drones to solve operational challenges
         and better serve their beneficiaries, with partnerships across agencies and with the private sector
         identified as a critical enabler for the development of use cases
    •    No specific UNICEF programme has yet been identified as best suited to the use of drones. Given the early
         stage of the use of drones in developing contexts, no systematic approach to testing and using drones at
         UNICEF has yet been established. Exploration is a critical area of work underway by country offices and
         the Office of Innovation.

3.1 Development/humanitarian context                              flooding and snow can limit organizations’
                                                                  ability to service communities, respond to
Operational challenges that are common to                         emergencies and meet essential needs
countries where UNICEF works often relate to                      regarding health and nutrition. With respect to
the physical environment and availability of                      the availability of infrastructure, a lack of
infrastructure. With respect to the physical                      reliable connectivity and well-maintained
environment, weather patterns causing heavy                       roads further challenges the ability of both

6Source: UNICEF internal briefing note, shared with
potential partners. (N.d.) Drones at UNICEF.

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UNICEF and local communities to share                            However, a significant limitation of the use of
information and transport goods. Given these                     drones currently relates to the lack of available
constraints, drones are positioned by UNICEF                     evidence on the value-add of drones.
staff members (and indeed, other                                 Humanitarian organizations are traditionally risk
humanitarian actors7) as a potential tool for                    adverse. Unfamiliarity with drone technology,
humanitarian and development organizations                       limited regulatory frameworks under which
to overcome challenges in a relatively cost-                     drone use is allowable and potential risks to
effective manner. As with any nascent                            privacy and safety of people are common
technology, it is likely that there are other                    constraints that need to be addressed before
additional humanitarian challenges that                          demand for drones in this space is likely to
drones can solve that have not yet been                          grow.
identified.
                                                                 Given these gaps, a substantial number of
Humanitarian and development organizations                       cross-sector, cross-organizational partnerships
have looked to drones as a potential tool for                    have grown to gather evidence around
use in a variety of scenarios, particularly in non-              drones for humanitarian uses. A number of UN
conflict affected regions, where use of drones                   groups, such as the Office for the Coordination
is not associated with military action. Non-                     of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), are actively
traditional actors in the sector are also looking                exploring the use of drones. Emphasis on
to drones to create shared value in the form of                  interagency collaboration is high. Some groups
social benefits for emerging markets and                         are focusing on a particular use case, such as
economic benefits for companies. For                             delivery (e.g. UAV Payload Delivery Working
example, Alphabet start-up Loon will soon aim                    Group), others are more broadly focused on a
to establish network of balloons traveling on                    sector, such as health. Considering the pace of
the edge of space, designed to extend                            change and number of activities occurring
Internet connectivity to people in rural and                     simultaneously, emphasis on future
remote areas worldwide.
collaboration through shared platforms is
evident in the humanitarian sector.8

3.2 Innovation context                                           Regulators have struggled to keep up with the
                                                                 increase in commercial (and personal) use of
The potential applications of drones are broad.                  drones. Protection of airspace and ultimately,
The use of drones prior to 2010 was primarily                    safety of others (both in the ground and on the
associated with military operations9. Despite                    air) has been of major concern for
the use of drones for photography and                            government. Other risks for consideration
videography over the same period, growth in                      include personal privacy and third party
the perception of drones as a tool for non-                      liability. Government has also recognized that
military use was catalysed in 2013 by Amazon’s                   the drone market represents a substantial
interest in exploring drones to deliver consumer                 opportunity for attracting investment. Global
products. Use cases for drones for non-military                  competition to attract private investment in
and non-recreational purposes are                                the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry is
broadening, due to their ability to drive                        high and according to one industry expert,
operational efficiency and capture data,                         “those countries with the most flexible rules for
particularly high quality photo and video, at                    UAVs are expected to attract the high-value
relatively low cost.                                             UAV businesses to conduct research and
                                                                 testing.”10

7 Source: Refer to footnote 5.                                   https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB115491642950528436?mod
8 Source:                                                        =hps_us_editors_picks.
https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1864/        10 Source: Government of Canada. (2017). Study of

cii-UAVs_in_Global_Health-508.pdf                                Unmanned Air Vehicle Regulations: An Interim Report.
9 Source: Wall Street Journal (2006). Drones in Domestic         Retrieved from
Skies? Retrieved from

                                                            13
There are a growing number of market players                       analysts to be the primary differentiator within
within the drone ecosystem. No longer                              the market going forward.11
competing on hardware alone, companies old
and new are exploring opportunities to find
their niche in the market. This could be
anything from development of machine-
learning software to train computers to
recognize objects in images captured by
drones to the provision of drone flight services
through long-term contracts with businesses.
These value-added services are considered by

3.3 UNICEF programme context

With regard to emerging technologies such as                       academic sectors. With this in mind,
drones, UNICEF does not have a single clearly                      involvement of the Office of Innovation in
defined approach for use and scale. UNICEF’s                       prototyping and testing potential solutions to
principles for innovation and technology for                       prepare UNICEF to take advantage of
development provide guidelines to inform the                       technological advances will commonly involve
design of technology-enabled programmes –                          a focus on leveraging markets and
they emphasize a substantial amount of                             partnerships to add value to UNICEF’s work.13
exploration with users and within the                              The Office of Innovation explicitly states its
ecosystem to determine the appropriate                             approach to innovation as ‘creation of new
technology solution to augment programming                         partnership structures that can narrow the gap
for local needs. They also democratize the                         between technologies (and practices) and the
innovation process through the application of                      people [UNICEF] needs to reach.’ Despite the
open source principles. At UNICEF, a country                       primary emphasis on partnerships in
office can own the innovation process for                          programme documentation, current work
testing and scaling the use of drones in local                     conducted by the Office of Innovation
operations. However, there is also a formal role                   indicates an intent to work across many other
for identification and testing of technologies                     areas, including working as an advisor to
more broadly across UNICEF in the mandate of                       UNICEF programmes, bringing solutions to
the Office of Innovation. Although three                           country offices for scaling.
potential use cases have been defined for
drones (imagery, transport and connectivity),                      The relevant maturity of an innovation
no one specific programme or region has yet                        determines the nature of Office of Innovation
been identified as best suited to the use of                       involvement. The UNICEF Ventures fund, which
drones for any specific use case and explicit                      invests in ‘early stage solutions that show
links to drone technology are not present in                       potential to positively impact children in a 0 – 2
strategic documentation.12                                         year future’ has provided funding for work in
                                                                   drone prototyping and testing activities, both
At UNICEF, the Office of Innovation plays a                        through drone testing spaces and through
number of roles in the innovation exploration                      direct investments in drone-related software
process for frontier technologies, with a                          and services. This appears to imply that drones
particular emphasis on forming partnerships at                     are not currently considered a proven solution
the intersection of the public, private and                        with the potential to be implemented at

http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2017/parl/        12 Based on a review of UNICEF Strategic Plans, including
xc27-1/XC27-1-1-421-10-eng.pdf.                                    UNICEF’s Strategy for Health 2016 – 2030, and UNICEF
11 Source: DRONEII Drone Industry Insights. (2018). Drone          Executive Board Humanitarian Action regular session 2017.
Market Environment Map 2018. Retrieved from                        13 Source: Internal Office of Innovation document. (2018).

https://www.droneii.com/drone-market-environment-map-              UNICEF Office of Innovation Office Management Plan
2018.                                                              (2018 – 2021).

                                                              14
national scale in multiple countries (a role that
is identified as the responsibility of the Global
Innovation Centre).

At the country office level, cross-sector
innovation specialists often support
programme divisions in testing innovations prior
to mainstreaming in the traditional programme
structure. In Malawi, where the UNICEF greatest
number of drone-related activities have been
conducted, an innovation specialist staff
position supports the Country Office across a
number of areas of innovation (through the
Innovation Unit) while programmes look at the
potential use of drones to address specific
challenges in their areas of work. Innovation
has mostly recently been framed as being
centred around and led by Malawians.

4. THE INNOVATION JOURNEY FOR DRONES

                                                 Key takeaways

    •    The The pace of innovation in the area of drones has been fast, originating with a specific use case in
         HIV/AIDs in the Malawi Country Office and evolving into the development of platforms for testing of
         humanitarian use cases globally and greater support for development of enabling aviation ecosystems for
         drones through partnerships with government
    •    Development of a safe testing space for drones – a ‘drone corridor’ - at UNICEF was proposed by the
         Office of Innovation, with the Malawi Country Office leading operationalization of the first corridor in
         partnership with the Government of Malawi beginning in 2016
    •    It has been challenging since the beginning to articulate clear objectives and outcomes for the first drone
         corridor, resulting in a variety of ownership issues; however, presence of the corridor has enabled the
         Malawi Country Office and the Government to further reflect on the potential value of drones in Malawi
         and has led to identification of further needs in the local drone ecosystem
    •    Work in the area of drones is moving toward greater alignment to specific programming, with
         establishment of drone corridors to solve challenges in Kazakhstan and Vanuatu and further exploration of
         specific drone uses in emergencies and health in the Malawi Country Office.

To date, numerous actors have been involved                          drones in the field, and support regulators
in the innovation journey for drones and their                       and government agencies in development
mandate and objectives has evolved since the                         of drone regulations and use cases
beginning of the project. As of the writing of
this case study, the UNICEF actors involved                      •   Office of Innovation Ventures Fund:
include:                                                             Provides funding for testing and
                                                                     prototyping activities, including funding to
•       Malawi, Kazakhstan and Vanuatu Country                       UNICEF country offices for the
        Offices: Identify and explore direct                         establishment and operation of drone
        applications of drones to address specific                   corridors and funding to private sector
        challenges, support community                                organizations for development of drone-
        engagement activities for socialization of                   related solutions

                                                          15
•   Office of Innovation Ventures                   provided by donors, either indirectly through
        Engineering and Science activities:             the pool of donor funds from the Office of
        Works with the Ventures Fund; an                Innovation Ventures Fund (Malawi and
        advisor in the Office of Innovation has         Kazakhstan), or through direct funding by a
        worked to build a network within the            donor to a specific project (Vanuatu).
        drone ecosystem, including private
        sector, regulators and academia, with           Description of the innovation process
        the intent of building partnerships that
        could support UNICEF’s mandate                  It is challenging to confirm the specific point
                                                        from which the concept of drones for
•   Supply Division: Has been involved through          humanitarian development emerged at
    supply chain consultations with                     UNICEF, particularly due to conflicting
    government stakeholders and coordination            information received from informants and
    of efforts across UNICEF to understand              limited documentation throughout the
    potential business models for drone use by          innovation process. The first exploration of
    UNICEF and governments. The Office of               drones documented by UNICEF began in 2014,
    Innovation also has indicated that Supply           through the Malawi Country Office. Today, the
    Division is establishing dedicated capacity         use of drones continues in the recognition and
    to explore and provide guidance on using            exploration and development stage, with
    drones for delivery.                                more advancements underway in Kazakhstan,
                                                        Malawi and Vanuatu to understand and
Considering the regulatory requirements                 explore potential use cases in specific
associated with aviation and the lack of a              programme areas.
framework to support drone flights in most
countries, involvement with government is a                       Figure 2. Innovation process
required component of work at this point in the
innovation process. Drone companies and
academic institutions also are involved,
bringing knowledge, expertise and equipment.
Funding for work on drones in UNICEF has been

                                  Figure 3. Innovation process timeline

                                                   16
Needs identification in Malawi

Barriers in early infant diagnosis caused by                    This potential barrier was based on a number
transport constraints                                           of observations on infrastructure by the unit
                                                                lead. Specifically, despite 650 sites providing
Despite strong efforts to halt the spread of HIV                HIV services to children, only nine laboratories
by the national government and partners in                      in Malawi had capacity to conduct diagnostic
Malawi, in 2014 prevalence of HIV remained                      tests.15 With a primarily rural population,
among the highest on the globe.14 Early infant                  transport of samples between laboratories
diagnosis remained a critical gap in reducing                   needed to occur. Access to efficient and cost
deaths, with only 20 per cent of infants                        effective transport was identified as a potential
receiving tests by the age of 2 months. At that                 barrier due to Malawi’s poor road infrastructure
time, UNICEF’s HIV/AIDs unit was involved in                    and human resources involved in primarily
initiatives for early infant diagnosis. After years             motorcycle-based transport supply chains.
of working collaboratively with local health                    Based on these observations, the HIV/AIDs unit
networks and government partners, the                           considered drones as having potential to
HIV/AIDs unit chief identified a potential barrier              unlock improved efficiency (both with respect
in the work relating to the transport of blood                  to cost and speed of transport).
spot samples.

Recognition and exploration of drones in the
health supply chain

Exploration of the feasibility of drones for a                  Working with the Government of Malawi,
specific use case in Malawi: Phase I                            Matternet (a UAV supplier based in the United
                                                                States) and VillageReach (a local NGO),
After a period of informal exploration of the                   UNICEF conducted test flights of drones in
technology in 2014 – 2015, consultation with                    March 2016, with the goal of comparing the
colleagues and drone hobbyists, and                             cost of drones against that of motorcycles in
consideration of other drone materials, the                     three different transport scenarios. Extensive
HIV/AIDs unit chief approached the Malawi                       community socialization was conducted in
Country Office Representative for support. An                   advance of the study to ensure community
exploration of the feasibility of drones for                    buy-in and support.
transport of laboratory samples was proposed.
Funding by the HIV/AIDs unit, using country                     During the same period that Malawi was
office programme funds, was approved to                         conducting the cost feasibility study, the Office
carry out an initial feasibility study of drones                of Innovation indicated it was receiving
through a cost efficiency analysis. A Terms of                  requests from country offices asking for more
Reference (ToR) was released in June 2015,                      information on how to use drones in a variety
seeking a contractor to implement and                           of ways, particularly imagery. Discussions with
provide on-the-ground management of Phase                       private sector companies were also occurring,
1 of a study on health supply chain                             with potential partnerships emerging with DJI,
strengthening through unmanned aerial                           the world’s largest drone manufacturer.
vehicles (UAVs).16

14 Source: UNAIDS data (2018). Historical Malawi country        Aerial Vehicles for Transportation of Laboratory Samples in
overview. Retrieved from                                        Malawi.
http://www.unaids.org/en/regionscountries/countries/mal         16 Source: UNICEF Malawi Country Office Terms of

awi.                                                            Reference (2015). TOR format for institutional contracts:
15 Source: UNICEF Malawi Country Office commissioned            Study on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for
report. (2016) Costs Associated with the Use of Unmanned        transportation of laboratory samples in Malawi.

                                                           17
A return to needs identification by the Office of                been suggested that some effort was required
Innovation                                                       following this initial presentation to reframe the
                                                                 value proposition and potential humanitarian
Expansion of interest in drones and                              outcomes of the testing space. In particular,
development of testing space                                     there was a need to convince the
                                                                 Government that the initiative was relevant to
Following Following the cost feasibility study,                  UNICEF’s mandate. Leveraging their
Office of Innovation staff visited Malawi to                     experience from the health supply chain work,
understand the work conducted. In part based                     HIV/AIDs unit team members took steps to
on discussions with the Malawi Country Office,                   more clearly articulate UNICEF’s value added
the Office of Innovation proposed that a                         and tie drone corridor outcomes back to
space to assess the feasibility of drones on a                   results for children.
larger scale was required – a ‘drone testing
corridor’ where the private sector would be                      Ultimately, the Government of Malawi
able to freely fly drones beyond visual line of                  supported the drone corridor in late 2016 and
sight. Companies and academic institutions                       approval was secured.
from around the world would apply to visit the
corridor. Successful applicants would visit                      Upon receiving approval, a number of critical
Malawi using their own funding to carry out                      preparation activities began in advance of the
testing of their drone technologies and                          launch of the drone corridor. This included
potentially identify new use cases for drones or                 preparation of a TOR, hiring of a drone corridor
sell services to UNICEF or other actors in the                   coordinator and further engagement with
region.                                                          government officials and extensive outreach
                                                                 with local communities to identify corridor
Given a lack of documented decision-making                       locations and risks and socialize drone flights
points during this period of work, constructing a                with communities. In June 2017, the drone
complete picture of the activities undertaken                    corridor opened with a three-day event in
to establish the drone corridor in Malawi is                     Kasungu, attended by key national and local
challenging. Although consultations and work                     government leaders, including the Minister of
on integrating drones into the health supply                     Transport. Following the launch and with the
chain continued, the Malawi Country Office                       hiring of a drone corridor coordinator, the
turned its focus to establishing a broader                       HIV/AIDs unit returned its focus to health supply
space to explore use cases. According to one                     chain strengthening, and the drone corridor
informant, this was in part due to a lack of                     testing space became a new priority for other
available funding for continuation of the                        Malawi Country Office team members,
health supply chain work, with funding                           including a newly hired innovation specialist.
decisions delayed by the UK National
Committee. It is at this point that the work on                  Although no documentation exists to provide
drones in Malawi appears to have diverged                        further details, exploration of partnerships
into two different, but related initiatives.                     remained underway through 2017, led by the
                                                                 Office of Innovation. In December 2017, a
Given that the involvement of the Government                     Letter of Intent was signed with a subsidiary of
of Malawi would be needed for permission to                      significant global organization for a 12-month
use the airspace and for capacity building of                    collaboration with UNICEF. The stated
relevant ministries, an initial presentation to                  objectives of the collaboration included open
government representatives was made by an                        source flight registration and logging of drone
Office of Innovation consultant. Based on                        corridor flights.17
discussion with two informants in Malawi, it has

17Source: Internal Office of Innovation UNICEF document,
confidential Letter of Intent. (2017), 208-008-3PA-United
States Fund for UNICEF.

                                                            18
Stories from the innovation process: Community socialization

     It was clear that for most Malawians, the Matternet drones flying for the cost feasibility study for UNICEF would
     likely be an unfamiliar and potentially frightening sight in the sky. In particular, belief in witchcraft and vampires
     by some communities was of concern.

     Recognizing a need for community socialization of drones prior to conducting flights, the Malawi Country Office
     conducted extensive outreach, in partnership with the Ministry of Information. Community gatherings were
     conducted in Area 25 (the region selected for flights) in Lilongwe and a community screening of videos and
     Q&A session was held with an estimated audience of 700 people. Official demonstrations also were
     conducted, with key government official speeches, cultural dances and a number of outreach/educational
     activities related to HIV/AIDs testing. Printed materials were distributed.

     UNICEF has continued community socialization in the drone corridor. Flights in the corridor often draw a large
     audience of children and adults. In some cases, a local Malawi youth intern may share information about
     drones, work underway drones, and how UNICEF was involved.

     Similarly, in Vanuatu, community socialization was identified as a critical enabler of work in this area. Cultural
     sensitivities with regard to filming of cultural events were well known by UNICEF staff. In accordance with the
     ‘kaljoral’ tradition, outreach activities were successfully conducted on a number of islands prior to establishing
     the flight path for testing of vaccine deliveries. During these visits, a consumer drone was deployed to sensitize
     people on the technology to be used, capture footage for technical purposes and prepare the technical
     documentation for future trial participants.

     By educating locals on the use of drones, UNICEF reduces reputational risks associated with flights and the
     likelihood of community members taking drones down or feeling uncomfortable with respect to their own safety
     and privacy.

Development and implementation

Operationalization of te drone corridor

With a 40 km radius, the drone corridor was                         additional 20 organizations were in
used to attract companies and academic                              conversation with UNICEF throughout 2018,
organizations to test the safe integration of                       with several visits to the corridor conducted by
solutions for imagery, connectivity and                             both for-profit and academic organizations.18
transport and engage in community outreach                          Close collaboration with the Department of
and capacity building. Seven for-profit start-                      Civil Aviation continued. The Department was
ups, non-profit and academic organizations                          involved in vetting applications and
participated in the drone corridor. Overall, all                    collaborated with the Malawi Country Office
flights were successful, although a crash in                        on the development of a formal national
October 2018 outside the drone corridor by a                        drone regulatory framework.19
company that had previously been flying in the
drone corridor attracted substantial attention
from local media and on social media. An

18Ongoing applications as of June 2018 included Vayu,               19Currently, Remotely Piloted Aircraft guidelines are in use
Inc, University of Kyoto, UAVAid, Flying Labs Malawi, Endure        as regulations are being gazetted.
Air, UniFly, Virginia Tech, GLOBEHE and 4DMapper.

                                                               19
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