As the largest healthcare institution in Bonaire, the Fundashon Mariadal is responsible for acute healthcare, both on the short and the long term, diagnostics and medicines provisions on the island. In that important role, the foundation is constantly in search of new and innovative solutions for the local healthcare sector, with its unique aspects as a result of Bonaire’s limited size and remote location. The latest development for Fundashon Mariadal is the strategic partnership with Bonaire International Airport, Water- en Energiebedrijf Bonaire (Water & Energy Company Bonaire), and the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (Ministerie van Infrastructuur en Waterstaat) as a result of the formation of the Dutch Caribbean Hospital Alliance last June.
Long-term sustainability plans
For many years now, Bonaire has been working on its position as a progressive Caribbean Island, which is emphasized by its Blue Destination label. “We want to raise awareness in the field of sustainability, for the benefit of our nature, economic development and the preservation of our heritage and culture. A culture that has always lived with and from the ocean“, can be read on the official Blue Destination website. The long-term goal is to create a perfect harmony between man and nature, while keeping the focus innovation and sustainable practices.
The formation of the previously mentioned Dutch Caribbean Hospital Alliance is part of these principles and fits perfectly in the island’s long-term strategy. Together with its partners, the foundation will work on a “2025 innovation and sustainability strategy around aviation, energy and healthcare” with the ultimate objective of positioning Bonaire as a “Living Lab” for innovation, not just locally but regionally as well. This should result in a combination of economic growth and increased wellbeing for local residents.
As stated on its own website, Avy is a pioneer in “innovative aircraft technology that is fully autonomous, emission-free, and designed to integrate smoothly into their customer’s daily operations, whilst blending into nature”. Fundashon Mariadal reached out to the company to support its ambition of launching a state-of-the-art drone service. Seeing as the foundation is a long-time partner of STINAPA (Stichting Nationale Parken Bonaire or National Parks Bonaire Foundation), nature conservation is a principal pillar of the ambition to create an inter-island drone service. As a result, Avy came into the picture as a potential long-term partner.
The goal of the collaboration is the development of new innovative services through the implementation of different use cases, targeted initially at healthcare and nature conservation, all the while ensuring that all operations follow the strict rules and regulations of Dutch aviation. Through the development of electronic drone networks for various sectors, the local development of the islands in the Caribbean Netherlands and the connection between those islands will be encouraged. The first implementation will take place in Bonaire to determine a viable business case, test the new technology in the new environment, and explore the possibilities for such a network. Fundashon Mariadal and Avy are planning a roll-out consisting of four phases towards 2025.
- Phase 0: Scoping
Avy will scope the area in Bonaire and work on the alignment of all stakeholders with the main objective being to speed up the formation of local drone regulation. This scoping phase starts in September 2022, in combination with the installed drone taskforce by the Ministry of I&W.
“Bonaire is currently completely designated as a no-fly zone for drones”, explains Felix Greving, roadmap coordinator Advanced Air Mobility and one of our very own Future Guides at Future Islands, “The project with Avy functions as a catalyst to look with a new fresh look, at the environmental impact on these zones and determine if re-alignment of the historic no-fly zones on Bonaire are possible”. This new fresh look is done in cooperation with the Dutch Caribbean Air Service Navigation Provider (DCANSP) in Curacao.
- Phase 1: Feasability testing
During this phase, Avy will be conducting various scenario tests based on possible use cases for the drone network, including nature conservation, livestock monitoring with Stinapa and urgent medical logistics. They will also use this stage to demonstrate the capabilities of the drones and to get a first idea of how they function in the local environment.
- Phase 2: Drones serving multiple economic user-cases
After testing, Avy and Fundashon Mariadal will focus on the establishment of a local team of multidisciplinary professionals that functions as an independent operator of the drone network. This team will work on the first use cases, so that impact of the network can be better evaluated.
- Phase 3: Connecting ABC islands with drone networks
As we mentioned earlier, the ultimate goal is for the drone network based on Bonaire to result in better connectivity between all of the islands in the Caribbean Netherlands, and that especially for the Dutch Caribbean Hospital Alliance. This way, the zero-emission drone network will be able to provide a state-of-the-art 24/7 scheduled and emergency medical healthcare service for the entire region.
“Fundashon Mariadal, through this innovation, wants to contribute to develop local advanced air mobility, ICT and environmental professionals”, says Felix Greving, “and modernize the way technology can contribute to a higher quality of life on Bonaire”.
The basis for this article was originally published on www.avy.eu and others in July 2022.