Private-sector pundits love to drone on about drones! Also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs), drones are dramatically altering processes and increasing opportunities in the for-profit world. There is no doubt that these changes and resulting benefits are helping to increase drone usage; in March 2017, technology news website Recode reported that since December 2015 almost 800,000 drones had been registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Yet private businesses don’t operate all 800,000. Various government organizations have seen the value of UASs—especially local government agencies—and are using them. Public safety departments are using UASs to reduce risk and increase situational awareness during hostage negotiations, SWAT operations, search and rescue, firefighting, accident investigations, hazardous material situations, and disaster surveillance. Many use drones to quickly (and inexpensively) document projects, survey land, and create maps. As officials in places such as Appleton, Wisconsin know, the possibilities of drone usage by local governments are endless.
Still, drone technology remains relatively new, and navigating the regulatory environment can be difficult. As a result, establishing a local government UAS program is time-consuming and full of obstacles. Local officials have many questions, including:
|•||How can we establish drone programs that meet regulatory requirements?|
|•||How do we inform and educate constituents about drone programs?|
|•||What is the typical budget for a local government drone program?|
|•||How can we determine if we can operate as civil users under FAA Part 107, or as public aircraft operators?|
|•||What are general best practices for local government drone use?|
Daunting, certainly, but help is here. We have assisted local governments for over two decades, and have developed a comprehensive drone program that we can tailor to meet individual agency needs. We can assist in establishing requirements, develop a concept of operations, write policy, conduct FAA filings, and, if desired, provide training for public aircraft operators.
A further benefit to local governments: BerryDunn is not affiliated with any drone manufacturer, and does not sell hardware or software. Our independence allows us to conduct a truly objective analysis and provide drone program recommendations that are in your best interest. Ready to fly toward the future? Reach out to me.