5 Dimensions That Impact Municipalities from Embracing Commercial Drones
February 21, 2019
February 21, 2019
Our local government airspace is becoming increasingly crowded and automated. Drones are beginning to provide emergency medical response, commercial package delivery, and private security services to consumers. The FAA is setting national standards for any entity operating in controllable airspace, however, local government will continue to be responsible for the bulk of enforcement. Cities have a significant role to play in developing their own regulations regarding drone usage.
Local governments should be aware that the rules are always shifting, and the federal policy surrounding drones is likely to keep changing in the near future. Local leaders need to consider the technological horizon and set clear expectations regarding the approved usages and limitations of drones in their communities.
There are several questions to ask to help remove the paralysis of embracing drones in your jurisdiction to be flexible enough to foster innovation and comprehensive enough to keep citizens safe. Ultimately, empowering local leaders to implement solutions tailored to the needs of their community. To ensure the safety of residents. To avoid an undue burden on drone operators and the cities where they fly, and harness the transformation power of drones to improve our lives.
There are five dimensions that impact municipalities from embracing commercial drones:
- Organizational Readiness: Relates to organizational capabilities. How regulations, rules and ordinances are communicated and managed internally and externally within an organization. With the rapid growth of the drone industry, policy makers are having a hard time keeping up. UAV Coach has a master list of drone laws and regulations organized by state & country that can help. AUVSI Advocacy 2019 Legislative map is another great resource.
- Citizen Adoption: Citizens voices are important, and they need to be heard, acknowledged and shown that the organization has a process and platform for managing drone security and privacy. Organizations need to assess how security and privacy is communicated to local citizens. Promoting the national registry of drone ingress & egress locations at AirRegistry to citizens enables them to participate in the community adoption. The air registry system is a national database of approved or requested drone landing and take-off locations. These locations are used to shape the creation of regulated drone “shipping lanes” in communities across the nation. And just as important for people flying drones in your community need to register their drone at FAADroneZone if the drone weighs more than 0.55 lbs and less than 55 lbs.
- Software & Data Readiness: Relates to the architecture, types of software owned and how software is used in the organization. Software, data quality and how data is stored in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), property, assessing, permitting, ordinance and zoning is important for integration and accuracy. Esri, a leader in local government data management is also supporting the integration of drone data.
- Governance & Funding: Relates to how drone airspace is deployed, managed and funded across various departments within the organization. Most departments will benefit from drones, including Department of Transportation (DOT), Agriculture, Energy, Utility, Public Safety, Code and Building Enforcement, etc. Grants are available and states like North Dakota are proposing a $30 million budget in 2019 to build statewide UAS infrastructure. New York & Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (NUAIR) have invested $35 million to develop a flight traffic management system. Michigan Unmanned Aerial Systems Consortium (MUASC) has partnered with NUAIR to offer the same types of testing capabilities and investments in Michigan.
- Gap Analysis: Relates to identifying the local business, FAA, state & local government needs, regulation and ordinance gaps. Assessing and filling these gaps with a proper process, platform and ordinances for the promotion of drone innovation & accountability. Piggy back on the FAA and encourage the safe and responsible use of drones. The ordinance should be designed to empower innovation while protecting and promoting the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens.
We suggest having a subject matter expert (FAA, Government, Location Technology, Drones) conduct a drone program assessment covering the five dimensions, a gap analysis between FAA, state, county and city municipalities and provide an adaptable short, mid and long-term roadmap. Including suggested ordinances and ultimately a potential return on investment calculation. If this all sounds overwhelming, we suggest having Airspace Link & partners do the heavy lifting with an airspace assessment and recommendation package.