Yes, I will attempt to tie together these 3 topics and find myself filled with the urge to have a bit of a rant.
Having spent most of my career in Hollywood I salute my former industry for sorting out FAA exceptions to operate drones on movie sets and now, most recently, to cover bald spots and cleavage at the 2015 Golden Globe Awards. Inquiring minds do, after all, want to know and, to their credit, no industry rivals Hollywood’s ability to raise awareness.
The FAA has not sanctioned sufficient number of drone operators whose drones would enable modeling the many civic infrastructure projects that, if modeled, could be built smarter, more efficiently, and, further, could significantly improve safety conditions, even save lives.
Imagine post-natural disaster, such as an earthquake or hurricane, sending a drone into hazardous conditions rather than a human being. This would not only ensure no additional casualties, but also give us the ability to get in on the ground and assess situations without having to wait for conditions to improve.
Or better yet, what if we could have prevented the outcomes of the recent Southern California mudslides, Bay Area earthquake or Hurricane Sandy disasters altogether? Leveraging available technology, aided by UAV’s, we could get the lay of the land, model and simulate the effects of hurricane force winds or flood waters, and visualize the impacts before the happen. Then we could ready communities for such events, building stronger levees, position sea walls a mere two degrees in this direction or another, or migrating populations away from exposed areas where necessary.
Properly and safely operated drones would seriously contribute to this public need.
According to Statista, US filmed entertainment revenue in 2014 was $31.8 billion. If I’m getting it right, ENR.com data tells me that architectural, engineering and construction (AEC) industry revenue amounted to a whopping $399.5 billion in 2013.
10X revenue and the opportunity to build more sustainably and save lives and property through preventive building enabled by safe drone operation should, one would think, provide sufficient clout and rationale for the AEC industry to exert more influence and convince the FAA to find a timely way forward in the interest of society.
Meanwhile, big box retail shelves are chock full of drones to reward Jimmy’s and Nancy’s pre-Christmas or birthday begging for a drone to fly any where they please, further ramping up justified concern for public safety due to child-guided drones interfering with flight paths. We’re now guaranteed the opportunity to confirm real-time whether our aging movie stars’ bald patches are increasing whilst those who might do real public service are stalled at the gate.
Laws and regulations will be the barrier to progress whether by not granting exceptions or poorly or too slowly regulating the design, manufacture, distribution and sale of drones.
In the interest of greater public safety and having over my lifetime witnessed too many tragedies that I now know may have been prevented or limited, I beg AEC industry leaders to take the bull by the horns and exert the appropriate level of influence necessary to ensure we don’t miss a major opportunity to use technology to do real good. Furthermore, I urge the FAA to ensure exceptions in the interest of public safety that keep pace with broadcasting bald spots and cleavage.