Ilyasah Long-Hamilton ’22 has long been aware of the rules that govern personal safety: Be aware of your surroundings, trust your instincts and, whenever possible, travel with other people in areas that are well lit. She and her classmates were reminded of those edicts almost as soon as they arrived on the Le Moyne campus as freshmen, as were their peers at colleges and universities across the country. However, it was only recently that Long-Hamilton began thinking about the role technology can play in helping individuals become more secure. A student in the Madden School of Business and a McDevitt Information Systems Research Fellow, Long-Hamilton is designing a phone app that links to an unmanned aerial system (commonly known as a drone) in order to promote public safety.
A New York City native, Long-Hamilton initially started her work as a McDevitt Fellow by researching how municipalities use cybersecurity surveillance systems. (Police departments have been using drones to bolster their situational awareness, help locate missing people, combat fires, and inspect damage or accidents for years.) But as her work continued, Long-Hamilton’s interest began to shift. With the support and encouragement of McDevitt Information Systems Distinguished Chair Martha Grabowski, Ph.D., she began asking: Instead of being put to work monitoring traffic violations, could this technology could be used to promote personal safety, allowing users to see detailed images of their surroundings and drone operators to monitor those users’ locations in real time? For the information systems and human resource management major, the research is an ideal way to blend her dual interests in technology and humanity. It also comes as an increasing number of Americans (49 percent, according to a recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll) report that they consider crime to be a “significant problem.”
There are still issues to be addressed before formally launching such an app, Long-Hamilton acknowledges. Chief among them is how to use this technology while respecting an individual’s right to privacy and to control his or her own data. But if those concerns can be successfully addressed, she believes that this could be a wonderful tool for promoting individual safety. In fact, she recently toured NuAir’s UAS drone testing facility in Rome, N.Y., to talk to experts there about the work she is doing. The research she’s undertaken has been involved and time-consuming, but if it could benefit one person, keeping him or her safe, perhaps even someone on a college campus, it will have been worthwhile.
“When I first started as a McDevitt Scholar, I didn’t know very much about drones, how they worked, or even what a project like this would entail,” she says. “It was different than anything else I have ever done in my college career. I am so glad that I dove into it, though. I have a passion for this kind of work, and it that passion that kept me going.”
This story is part of a series on the McDevitt Information Systems Research Program at Le Moyne.