Madrid City Hall cancels contract to purchase six drones

Council officials say the €200,000 price tag is too steep, and their purpose unclear

Madrid - 11 Sep 2015 - 15:14
A technician flying a drone.
A technician flying a drone.TYLER OLSON (FOTOLIA)

Madrid City Hall has decided to cancel the purchase of six unmanned aerial vehicles, more popularly known as drones, on the basis that the price tag of €200,000 is not sufficiently justified and that their ultimate use has not been specified.

In a press release, city officials said the drones had initially been viewed as a useful tool to supervise emergencies at large public events. But a July 10 review of a national law now forbids the use of drones over urban areas for surveillance purposes.

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The new wording of the law still allows their use “in situations of serious risk, natural disasters or public calamities, as well as to protect and aid people and goods when this is required by authorities in charge of managing such situations.”

However, the city says that the contract does not clearly establish what the drones, assigned to the Department of Health, Safety and Emergency, were going to be used for.

Local authorities will now consider whether to launch a new bid.

Madrid City Hall had been run by the conservative Popular Party for nearly 25 years, until a surprise upset at the municipal elections in May of this year paved the way for former judge Manuela Carmena to take office with the Ahora Madrid party, a citizen platform comprising members of emerging party Podemos, among others. One of the party’s promises has been to conduct a thorough review of the council’s existing contracts, projects and spending plans.

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