Drone program in Bainbridge seeks input from REAC

Bainbridge Prepares is researching a Drone Program and is seeking input from the Bainbridge Island Race Equity Advisory Committee.

Rakesh Bharania and Pascal Schuback attended a recent REAC meeting. Bharania is a co-lead and chief pilot of Bainbridge Prepares’ Technical Ops Team. He has a history in emergency response from 9/11 to Ukraine. He is the director of Humanitarian Technology Impact at Salesforce.

Bharania would like to partner with REAC to identify racial justice or equity concerns, in addition to engaging in ongoing dialogue to maintain community trust and transparency, and to be accountable, documents from the meeting say. The BI Fire and Police departments, US Coast Guard and BI Emergency Management also would be involved.

Many concerns about security and privacy were discussed such as if data is collected from a drone mission and released to an agency what is the privacy policy? There are also communities of color concerns about the misuse of data and lack of transparency. And, who determines what is an emergency and non-emergency?

After that meeting, REAC member Olivia Hall met with Bharania, who said he’s looking for a recommendation from REAC on its drone handbook and program.

At a later meeting, Hall suggested REAC form a task force to look at the Drone Program. “I believe it is a very important project, and it’s so new,” she said. “It is so specialized. There’s a lot of technology that needs to be discussed in an equity way.”

Co-leader Renni Bispham talked about the possible need for a Technology Subcommittee. “What would it do besides drones?” he asked.

There was a long discussion for the third-straight meeting about subcommittees, and who should be on which ones.

Deputy city manager Ellen Schroer named the subcommittees she thought they had decided on the previous meeting. “This is not set in stone if we feel differently this month,” she said.

Hall recommended a possible climate subcommittee, but member Jing Fong said REAC used to have one but discontinued it. Fong then said even if members aren’t on a committee nothing says they can’t be involved if they are interested in a particular project.

Hall said all of the subcommittees are “driven by the people on them.” She added REAC was not invited to be part of the city’s Comprehensive Plan process. “But it’s something I went after.” She added members should be on subcommittees that are “what is interesting to you, rather than what you are good at.”

On subcommittee reports, Hall said Outreach is planning to move more toward Public Engagement. And member Eric Stahl said REAC has not tapped its $19,000 budget at all.

Regarding all the subcommittees, Fong said no matter which ones REAC decides on members should think about their skill sets. “We all feel the need to get going,” she said.

Also, the new Equity and Inclusion manager, Anshu Wahi, was introduced. “I’m very busy and learning a lot,” she said. “I welcome emails from any of you and look forward to collaborating with all of you.”

At another meeting, Hall gave an update on the Winslow Subarea Plan. She said priorities in the draft report are mobility, public transit like a foot ferry to Bremerton, ecology and diversity.

Also, REAC and the BI City Council will have equity training this month. There will be three four-hour trainings to uphold open government requirements.