New Drone Group Launches to Address Security While Promoting Benefits

DroneBase CEO Dan Burton authored the column below, which ran in the Santa Monica Daily Press on September 29, 2018. 

Businesses across the United States are deploying drone technologies as a means of boosting efficiency, reducing costs, enhancing safety and security while driving innovation and creating new American jobs. That is great news – for public safety, for national security, and our economy.

Drones have been a critical help in battling California’s devastating wildfires from Cedar and Thomas to Carr. An estimated 910 individual public safety agencies across the US are using drones, including 58 counties in California.

Drones offer firefighters access to critical real-time data on wildfire growth and trajectory in addition to thermal imaging capabilities used in search and rescues as well as the ability to identify flare-ups through thick smoke. Perhaps most critically, drones sometimes reduce the amount of firefighters needed on the front lines who are at the highest risk.

There is, of course, the possibility that bad actors can misuse drone technology. These ever-present risks make it crucial for the industry to work alongside the government to modernize policies that protect against malicious drone use. We must fill in the policy gaps and modernize antiquated regulations so that together we enhance the value of drone technology for our nation and local communities.

Advocating for security, data management standards, and sound policies are goals of the newly formed Drone Advocacy Network (DAN). DAN brings together innovators, suppliers, engineers, data developers, and users of drones, all dedicated to the responsible advancement of drone technologies. DAN members, like DroneBase and others are on the forefront of using drone technology to improve public safety, agriculture, insurance, energy, construction, and telecommunication services, while investing in a more secure America and supporting the creation of thousands of new jobs.

DAN members see the value of expanding collaborative efforts with government agencies, which will further enhance public safety and trust of drone technology. DAN calls on government agencies to come together with the industry and establish a working group to address the gaps in tools and authorities, so that together we enhance the value of drone technology for our nation and local communities.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (drone) usage is growing rapidly, with drone sales of $8.5 billion in 2016 and expected to surpass $12 billion by 2021.Commercial drone use is similarly forecast to expand at a rate of over 50 percent annually for the next three years. This growth is yielding exciting new products and applications of drone technology that are now being utilized by governments, industries, small businesses, and more than800,000 U.S. hobbyists. Drone technology offers the potential to enhance our communities and marketplaces, from transforming e-commerce to making emergency response services faster and more effective.

The availability of safe and secure drone technology has helped veterans cope with PTSD, save humpback whales, aid farmers with crops and land management, and provide accurate aerial pictures and video of their most important assets to businesses, and supply media outlets with images to help tell stories of what is happening on the ground. The benefits of drone technology continue to grow as this technology takes hold across America; the potential is limitless.

With the rapid growth of new drone technologies, products, and applications, we must adopt informed policies and regulations that encourage innovation and allow us to take maximum advantage of drone capabilities while maximizing security and privacy through data management and cybersecurity practices. Drone innovators and industry leaders take security, compliance, and protection of data very seriously. We rely on industry-standards and best practices to secure and manage data, thereby minimizing risk to our customers and operations.

DJI Technology – a founding member of DAN – estimated that UAV technologies have helped rescue at least 136 people around the world. Nearly 1,000 local and state public safety agencies are leveraging the power of drone technologies to make their communities safer and more secure. Drone technology and thermal imaging are enabling firefighters to track fires and saving lives as part of successful search and rescue missions.

As DAN members, we see the value of expanding collaborative efforts with government agencies, including working together to further enhance public safety and trust of drone technology. This will allow the UAV industry to test and deploy defensive drone technologies. Our collaboration will inform stakeholders about the benefits of drone technologies and their utility in real-world situations. DAN members look forward to working with government, industry, and policymakers to develop sensible guidelines, standards and policies that will help improve drone safety while ensuring compliance with security and data management processes.

We strongly support a sound regulatory framework that will preserve and expand the vibrant marketplace for drone technology, yielding benefits in public safety, in the economy, and for individual users. Forward-thinking policies will allow for a growing number of technical collaborations, joint ventures, and new investments that will make drone technology available and secure for all Americans while improving the quality of life for generations. The future is looking up.

Dan Burton is the CEO and Founder of DroneBase, a Santa Monica, California headquartered company. Prior to founding DroneBase, Dan served as a Marine Infantry Officer in Iraq and Afghanistan in addition to earning his MBA from Harvard Business School