The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) is rapidly growing in momentum in both the public and private sectors. UAV usage is moving quickly from mere hobbyists and real estate agencies to full-fledge usage of systems that can have sophisticated cameras and other sensors, that when linked with other technologies can make a significant impact on the cost of operations and the capabilities of agencies and companies.
Federal regulation also continues to evolve and there is a corresponding dialog about the regulation of this new disruptive technology at the state and local government levels. As with any new technology, there is a possibility for it to be used for both the public good or, in some cases, by criminal elements in our society.
Collectively, we can expect to see new uses and new systems fielded that will aid people and organizations in providing services and products to citizens and customers. One area of particular interest is the use of UAV to assist in the assessment of critical infrastructure following a disaster. This may include the generalized assessment of impacts and the use of new technologies and their adaptation to provide better decision-making tools to government and private sector leaders coping with disasters.
Infrastructure owners and operators can use UAV technology as can emergency management and a wide variety of public and private organizations that will respond to emergencies and disasters here in the Pacific Northwest.
We are already seeing governments form informal working groups of users, either by geographical, e.g., county, region or by discipline, e.g. law enforcement.
With the rapid advancement of the UAV technology and use it is appropriate to establish an informal users group that includes both the public and private sector representatives and their associated organizations. The potential for collaboration and information sharing between the public and private sector UAV users is significant.
This users group would serve as a forum for the sharing of information between participating personnel and organizations. This users group is not for the purpose of replacing existing associations already in existence or usurping the legislatively-mandated responsibilities of any one agency.
Likely topics for information sharing could include:
A Users Group will be established for Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Potentially, the users group could be expanded to NW Canadian Provinces as the usage of UAV expands along with the potential for cross-border coordination and uses by government agencies and commerce.
There would be no “formal” membership other than the sharing of contact information of individuals who wish to be informed of users group conference calls so that they can be contacted and kept in the loop. Membership will not include hobbyists.