The World Bank explores use of sUAS in Development Projects

UAV in Albania

By Kathrine Kelm, The World Bank

A team from the World Bank used small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) to pioneer a scalable, cost-effective approach to produce spatial data, thereby allowing local and national government, the private sector and international development projects to use the up-to-date and accurate data for multiple purposes. The initial field campaign was conducted in Albania in December, 2013 for several applications including cadastral mapping/registration, urban planning and taxation, infrastructure projects and disaster risk mitigation. The team leader Kathrine Kelm, senior land administration specialist at the World Bank, engaged the experienced geo-spatial specialists and UAS operators from Micro Aerial Projects LLC in Gainesville, FL ( to provide the equipment and expertise.

The work in Albania was designed to test the performance and relevance of UAS technology and modern modeling techniques in an environment where there is a dire need for new spatial data and for improvement of the quality of existing spatial data. Two of the major considerations for the developing country context are cost and sustainability. The strategy of the team was to identify low cost solutions that can be readily adopted by and for the local market. The optimal situation is to have UAS locally based and deployable at a moment’s notice. The sUAS used in Albania was configured and assembled from parts supplied by proven sUAS manufacturers, standard off-the-shelf components ordered over the internet, and components designed and produced by the UAS team on a 3D printer.

The results exceed expectations and show that sUAS technology can have a profound and positive impact on how governments collect and manage spatial data and how the World Bank and other development partners design, implement and monitor projects.

The findings will be presented at the international World Bank Land and Poverty conference on March 25, 2014 in Washington DC. See