Re-Imagining Effective Work

Saving Lives through Drone Deliveries

Ensuring sufficient medical supplies are available at the point of need in any country is simple if there is a trusted transportation system that works reliably, in all weather, and transacts frequently enough to move around what has to be moved. And also if there is sufficient local demand to minimise waste. And also if there are high quality local storage systems to ensure medical supplies are kept under the right conditions. And also if there are enough trained medical professionals to dispatch the right medicine as required.

Simple, indeed, but that’s a lot of if requirements.

In countries where those if requirements are not met, Zipline offers a new solution: on-demand fast delivery by drone. A doctor in a serviced region enters his or her order on a mobile app, and the medicine or medical supplies (e.g., blood) is packaged up at a central distribution centre, loaded onto a Zipline drone, and shot off at 100 km/hour. Depending on the distance the drone has to travel, the delivery is made 15-30 minutes later. The drone drops the supplies to the point required, and then turns around and flies back to the distribution centre to be put into flight readiness for the next delivery.

Zipline has been working in Rwanda since October 2016, and Ghana from last month. Its service has saved thousands of mothers through delivering blood after a haemorrhage, and hundreds of children have been saved after contracting malaria.

My little daughter loves Helen Oxenbury’s story We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. All of the obstacles in the way – the grass, the river, the snow – can only be traversed by “going through it.” It’s not an option, in the book, “to go over it.” But Zipline does – and has lowered morality rates in a country where previous medical delivery solutions were barely making it.