The Nesta Flying High programme is a collaborative engagement between city leaders, regulators, public services, businesses and industry exploring the future of drones in cities.
They worked with five city-regions across the UK (Bradford, London, Preston, Southampton and the West Midland) to develop visions for the future of drones and found that cities are most receptive to the use of drones when used for publicly beneficial services like the transport of medical products, supporting emergency services and supporting infrastructure development and maintenance.
They asked PWC to assess the potential economic benefits of drones delivering public sector services like these in urban areas across the UK.
For example, the transport of urgent medical products by drone (like pathology samples, blood and equipment) could save time and money, improve efficiency, provide quicker results, improve health outcomes and reduce traffic on congested roads.
Their analysis estimates that over the next 15 years the use of drones to support delivery of public services in urban areas in the UK could lead to £1.1billion in cost savings and £6.9 billion increase in GDP.
Of the UK’s largest cities, London, Birmingham and Leeds would have cost savings of £115m (Birmingham), £53m (London) and £53m ( Leeds) over the next 15 years.
If Flying High can integrate technology, regulation, city leadership, public services and public engagement, it will help position the UK as a global leader in developing urban drone services and will unlock the significant economic opportunity for our future.
Holly Jamieson is Head of Future Cities (interim) for Nesta Challenges
18th December 2019