LifeLabs joins UBC’s Drone Transport Initiative to support access to essential health services for BC First Nations communities

LifeLabs this week announced its partnership in a University of British Columbia’s (UBC) study investigating how drone technology can be used to improve health care for rural and remote First Nations communities.

Dubbed Drone Transport Initiative (DTI), the study is nearing completion of its first phase, testing drone flights carrying supplies and mock samples between Stellat’en First Nations and Fraser Lake. Eventually, real test samples will be carried so they can reach testing laboratories in a timely manner. 

Through this partnership, LifeLabs says it is contributing to the development of standard operating procedures and ensuring an end-to-end solution by participating in data evaluations, sample logistics, and training. This will also support important community engagement efforts with Stellat’en First Nation, which will assist in identifying lessons learned and factors supportive of cultural safety in LifeLabs’ planning, implementation, and engagement practices.

“This type of project here is unique. As a Native community, we’re at the forefront of the technology,” says chief Robert Michell of Stellat’en First Nation. “It would be amazing in 10 years’ time to see where this goes. This is definitely a first step, and we’re proud to be a part of it.”

“We’re proud to support such an important initiative that will help provide greater access to essential health care services for First Nations communities,” said Charles Brown, president and chief executive officer of LifeLabs. “New technologies such as drones can present opportunities to deliver health services closer to home, improving accessibility to certain medical support for people in remote and rural communities.”

DTI’s drone technology and service are provided by Drone Delivery Canada (DDC), and funding is provided through a grant from the TD Ready Challenge – an annual North American initiative which has CA$10 million in grants available to organizations developing innovative, impactful, and measurable solutions for a changing world.

A drone technology firm with a focus on the design, development, and implementation of its proprietary logistics software platform, DDC has previously demonstrated its ability to transport temperature-controlled medical supplies (University of Saskatchewan project in 2020) and blood tests (Moose Cree First Nation pilot project in 2018) using drones. Most recently, in December, a Sparrow drone from DDC flew from the Edmonton International Airport Operations Facility to a site in Leduc County, marking the first time this activity has been approved by NAV CANADA


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Pragya Sehgal
Pragya Sehgal
Born and raised in the capital city of India - Delhi - bounded by the river Yamuna on the west, Pragya has climbed the Himalayas, and survived medical professional stream in high school without becoming a patient or a doctor. Pragya now makes her home in Canada with her husband - a digital/online marketing fanatic who also loves to prepare delicious meals for her. When she isn’t working or writing around tech, she’s probably watching art films on Netflix, or wondering whether she should cut her hair short or not. Can be contacted at [email protected] or 647.695.3494.

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