The world has turned to high-tech, medical science and innovative software solutions to keep the gears of daily life turning throughout the pandemic. So, it may come as little surprise that technology is taking center stage this Liberation Day in the name of health safety.
Under Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero’s leadership, not only as Guam’s top elected official but also as a practicing nurse who is trained and certified to tackle health crises, our community has contained COVID-19 enough that we can enjoy some return to normal. But crowds of thousands remain off limits.
After Liberation activities were canceled last year due to high COVID-19 threat levels, by mid-July of this year we find ourselves hankering to commemorate our island’s most cherished secular holiday.
COVID-19 safety protocols have broken off the Liberation Day Parade for the second year in a row, and all memorial services leading up to and following Liberation Day are controlled by limited attendance.
Finding a way
Thankfully, our community is presenting clever workarounds to commemorate the blood sacrifices our liberators and forebears made for the cause of representative democracy.
PBS Guam/KGTF Channel 12 will broadcast and livestream a virtual parade on Liberation Day. You can view it on your favorite flat-screen or hand-held device.
Furthermore, Bella Wings Aviation will illuminate the night sky above Tumon Bay for Guam’s first drone light show at 8 o’clock, on the evening of Liberation Day. One hundred small unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with LED lights will inspire us with images of hope and unity to help sustain us as we protect one another through the pandemic with faith and health-protecting habits.
Then, BWA’s light-mounted quadcopters will do it all over again the next night from the Merizo baseball field gi Sengsong Malesso’ (in Merizo Village).
On Liberation Day evening, JamzMedia Productions/ShowPro Pyrotechnics will conduct a three-site fireworks extravaganza at 8:30 p.m., following the inaugural drone light show. The fireworks will be launched from Ypao Point, Hagåtña Boat Basin and a barge off Merizo Pier.
Glimpsing the broader perspective
Yes, we will revere the official commemoration and enjoy the seasonal entertainment — and we’ll take it any way we can get it! Yet the words “virtual” and “drone” carry more-impactful implications for Guam’s foreseeable future than good feelings alone.
As you probably already know, unmanned aerial multicopters are capable of far more than intricate animated light displays, impressive as those may be.
Even just an offhand list is eye-opening:
• Emergency search and rescue – These days SAR drones use thermal-imaging cameras to distinguish body heat from sediment and vegetation and make missing persons stand out on operator monitors during search and rescue operations. This saves precious time while protecting search parties and lost hikers and bringing fugitives to justice. Pinpointing those who’ve lost their way also enables first responders to deliver food, water, medicine and other emergency supplies on the spot.
• Door-to-door package delivery – The U.S. Postal Service is already exploring the incorporation of unmanned aerial drones into its fleets to help reduce mail-delivery time, cut cost and protect carriers from having to deliver parcels through rough-terrain and dangerous-weather areas. But homes and businesses across Guam and Micronesia could also soon benefit from private-sector mail and package delivery services utilizing aerial drones.
• Aerial photography and videography – These services present a broad array of uses and applications, from surveying and research to advertising and public relations.
• Aerial Light Detection and Ranging – By sensing humps, bumps and traces of ancient civilization, this mapping technology could help circumscribe the State Historic Preservation Office’s present practice of costly and intrusive test digging.
• Real estate services – In Guam, local drone operator 2cofly specializes in 3D topographical mapping, modeling, and even unexploded ordnance surveys for construction contractors. Meanwhile, Drone Optics promotes its high-resolution imagery for real estate marketing, property management and site inspection on island.
This is just scratching the surface of FAA-compliant services now provided over Guam. I also commend Aviation Concepts’ Tech Center for developing a drone training program that will help create jobs in Guam’s emerging post-pandemic economy.
As we improve COVID-19 containment and stoke our island’s enthusiasm for game-changing drone technologies, it won’t be long before Guam is ushering in the era of “air taxis,” AKA electronic vertical takeoff and landing, known as eVTOL, aircraft!
In the interim may we all draw inspiration from the theme of our 77th Anniversary Liberation celebration: “Kontra i Piligru, Ta Fanachu! Against All Peril, We Rise!”
Carl T.C. Gutierrez is a former two-term governor of Guam who now serves as chairman of the Governor’s Economic Strategy Council, permit czar, and president and CEO of the Guam Visitors Bureau. Your comments and questions are welcome at [email protected].