Drones in the service of transparency – Atlatszo.hu releases feature film on new investigative technology

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Drones, which just a few years back even journalists considered toys for children have become one of the most important means to show the public that which could otherwise not be accessible. Atlatszo.hu has published a feature presentation showing the successes and challenges civil society has had in using drones and is also holding a conference to promote the technology and share experiences.

Thanks to successful donation rally, Atlatszo.hu managed to acquire a drone last years which has since been used in many of our investigations, while other journalists and members of civil society have also discovered the opportunities the technology presents.

Hungarians could get a far broader, aerial perspectives of key stories, like anti-government protests, the march of immigrants or clashes with the refuge-seekers at the boarder, which would have been left to a far narrower interpretation relying only on what can be seen at ground level.

When this technology is used to infringe on the interests of those in power, challenges also arise. Journalists trying to explore the features and the sheer size of the closed-off estates owned by oligarchs close to the government have had the police called on them and their drones temporarily confiscated. The legal standing of drone use is still unclear and there are signs that the rules will be shaped in a way that doesn’t serve transparency.

This same transparency can also be used to settle the war of numbers that is so very common for various protests and demonstrations where, the sides are skewing the turnout figures to better support their own agendas. A method developed by Good Drones Lab is now capable of taking still drone images and reaching a grounded estimation of the headcount, that is based on mathematics.

Atlatszo.hu interviewed those at the forefront of drone use in and close to Hungarian civil society.

On May 9-10 we are also hosting a conference in Budapest about drone technology, its uses and challenges for civil society.

Original article in Hungarian.