|There are close to 1.3 million registered drones and 116,000 registered drone operators in the US. /Photo Credit: Naypong Studio (via Shutterstock)|
Forget scooters! Drones or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are about to take cities by storm with nearly 1.3 million registered drones in the US and over 116,000 registered drone operators, according to Brittney Kohler and Brenna Rivett of the NLC’s (National League of Cities) news platform Cities Speak. Under the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), drones are regulated for “aircraft safety and flight operations.” Many cities, municipalities, and states add their own guidelines “related to their areas of traditional authority.”
These include planning and zoning for land use, determining take-off and landing occasions, as well as privacy policies and considerations. Updates are being made to current regulations and safety decisions at the FAA are still a work in progress. If cities want to take a step further in exploring transportation technology, they should prepare themselves to make the most out of UAS.
Cities and neighborhoods alike are embracing changes to public safety, mobility opportunities, emergency response capabilities, and delivery optimization. And drones will be the ones to spearhead these opportunities. For example, firefighters in New York use drones to take a bird’s eye view of fires before deploying firefighters into “dangerous burning buildings.” In Nevada, drones are used to conduct post-crash assessments on roads to clear and document crash scenes quickly.
What should cities do to take advantage of this technology? Cities should communicate with drone operators and take part in a drone demonstration. Local city officials should find out which city departments are using drones in their everyday operations. It’s also best to discuss their process and challenges. Moreover, cities should take into account unlikely areas where drones could pose a risk to public safety such as in a crowded event like a football match, graduation ceremony, or parade.
Cities are no strangers to noise, but they should also be prepared to make the necessary noise when flying drones. Overall, cities serve as a testing ground for technological innovation. At the same time, they should also be ready to address the challenges drones may pose and be abreast with the latest developments.