Drone flying over water body
  • The Blue UAS standard has been a groundbreaking development for the adoption of drone technology in public safety.
  • However, the standard has led to the exclusion of DJI drones, causing a logistics nightmare for departments relying on them.
  • Florida responds to legislative challenges by establishing the Florida UAS Coordination Group.

As I sit here, trying to have a meaningful conversation about drones and legislation, I can't help but feel a little stifled. It's not as easy as just speaking up and being heard. No, in the world of politics, lobbying dollars go a long way, and if you don't have the right money, your voice might as well be a whisper in the wind. It's the unfortunate truth we face.

But hey, let's not just dwell on the negative. In this op-ed, we're going to tackle some exciting topics that have been buzzing around the drone industry. We'll dive into the impact of lobbying on drone legislation, the adoption of drone technology in public safety, Florida's response to legislative challenges, the role of unmanned systems in bridging public safety agencies, and more. It's time to bring our collective voices to the table and make some noise!

VIP Passes and Whispers: How Lobbying Shapes Drone Laws

Let's face it, folks, the world of politics can be a bit messy. And when it comes to drone legislation, lobbying dollars have a huge impact. It's like having a VIP pass to the legislative conversation while the rest of us are left waiting in line. Unfortunately, that's the sad truth about money's role in politics.

It's crucial for us industry stakeholders to actively participate in these discussions. We can't sit back and let the bigwigs dictate the rules without hearing our voices. It's time to roll up our sleeves, put on our thinking caps, and show them what we're made of.

Now, you might be thinking, "But how do we break through? How do we make our voices heard?" Well, it's not as easy as grabbing a cup of coffee with your local legislator. Although that would be nice, wouldn't it? Instead, we need to be smart, strategic, and a little bit sneaky.

Those lobbying dollars have had tremendous impact on everyday businesses and organizations. Next, we expose the not-so-pretty truth behind the scenes. 

Photo of gavel on book and dollar billsPhoto of gavel on book and dollar bills
Photo by Sasun Bughdaryan on Unsplash

From DJI to Don't Fly: Consequences of the Blue UAS Standard

In Florida, we've seen a groundbreaking development in the adoption of drone technology for public safety. It all started with the introduction of the Blue UAS standard, which has been praised as a trailblazer in making crucial decisions regarding drone usage. This standard has set the stage for other states to follow suit and make similar advancements in their drone programs.

DJI Drama: High Cost of Compliance

However, this progress hasn't come without its fair share of challenges. One significant consequence of the Blue UAS standard is the impact it has had on departments that were using DJI drones. These departments now find themselves in a tight spot because they can no longer utilize DJI drones. Not only can they no longer be on the shelves, but they have to be disposed of or gotten rid of entirely! Poof! Gone! Just like that. Imagine going from having a reliable drone companion to being droneless. It's like losing a trusted sidekick.

Losing capabilities in agencies is never a good thing. Without the necessary tools, departments can't effectively put drones in the air when they need to. It's a setback that hampers their ability to serve and protect. This unfortunate situation has caused agencies to take a step back in their drone programs, leaving them unable to perform the valuable tasks they were once capable of.

The dilemma agencies now face is the urgent need to replace or dispose of their DJI drones. It's not as simple as going to the store and buying a new one. These replacements require funds, grants, or resources that may not be readily available. Without proper financial support, agencies are left in a bind, unable to move forward with their drone initiatives. 

So, what can agencies do in the face of such challenges? How can they adapt and keep their drone programs afloat? Let me tell you how Florida responded to these challenges and the amazing efforts being made to overcome them.

Breaking Free: Florida's Flight to Overcome Legislative Cages

When it comes to drone legislation, it can feel like we're stuck in a cage, unable to freely express our ideas. You see, lobbying dollars hold a lot of sway, and sometimes it feels like the biggest wallet wins. But that hasn’t slowed down Florida. The drone crowd here has taken the bull by the horns and charged ahead!

The Birth of the Florida UAS Coordination Group

Since the introduction of the Blue UAS standard in Florida, the Sunshine State has emerged as a pioneer in making bold decisions. But it wasn't a one-person show; it was a team effort. We banded together and created the Florida UAS Coordination Group through Drone Responders. And let me tell you, it's been a game-changer!

Strength in Numbers and Collaboration

Coordinating with other agencies and fostering collaboration has been a key to our success. We've brought agencies from different states together, with dozens of conversations taking place. We've become the talk of the town, especially at the legislative level. Thanks to our collective voices, we've earned a seat at the table in Tallahassee, and that's no small feat!

Building Bridges, One Drone at a Time

But it's not just about legislative victories; it's about the relationships we've built. Through this coordination group, we've gotten to know our neighbors, the other agencies in our state. We've established a network of communication, with around 150 agencies and over 300 members on board. We share our experiences, conduct trainings, and, most importantly, we know each other's capabilities.

A Temporary Band-Aid Solution

Now, let's be real. This may not fix all the legislative problems overnight, but it's a temporary band-aid solution that's keeping us afloat. We've found a way to answer the call, even if it's just for the time being. So, while we continue to fight for more permanent solutions, let's celebrate the unity and support we've built within our own community.

Florida, you're not just a sunny paradise; you're a beacon of hope for the drone industry. Together, we can face any legislative challenge head-on, and who knows, maybe one day we'll soar above the clouds with our ideas and voices, free from the chains of outdated regulations. 

Unmanned Cupid: Drones Unite Law Enforcement and Fire Departments

If you thought bringing law enforcement and fire departments together was impossible, drones just proved you wrong. It's like watching a rom-com where the tough cop and the fearless firefighter finally realize they're meant for each other. And guess what? Unmanned systems are the matchmakers in this heartwarming story of interagency cooperation.

Neighborly Love, Drone Style

Imagine knowing your neighbors so well that you can recite their drone capabilities faster than their favorite pizza toppings. Thanks to drones, that's now a reality! The beauty of unmanned systems is that they have enhanced support and collaboration among agencies. We've built bridges of communication and strengthened relationships by sharing resources and skills.

Our coordinated efforts didn't just stop at throwing awesome drone parties. We also got to know our neighboring agencies. We went from strangers to BFFs (Best Friends in Flight). Through training and conversations, we learned about their capabilities and what they lost due to the legislation. It's like having a drone version of a neighborhood watch—supporting each other, lending a helping hand, and providing backup when needed.

Sure, our temporary band-aid solution doesn't fix the legislation problem, but it keeps us flying. It's like using bubble wrap to protect our precious drones from harm. We may not have a permanent fix, but we're proving that agency-to-agency assistance is the secret sauce to keep our skies safe and our spirits high.

Drones have not only transformed the relationship between law enforcement and fire departments, but they've also shown us the power of collaboration and support. We're witnessing a love story unfold in the skies, bringing together agencies, breaking down barriers, and keeping our communities safer than ever.

Next time you hear the buzz of a drone, remember the tale of law enforcement and firefighters finding common ground. Engage in the conversation, and let's shape drone legislation together. 

Soar Higher, Fly Freer: The Future of Drones Lies in Our Hands

Throughout this op-ed, we've delved into the adoption of drone technology in public safety, the consequences faced by departments using DJI drones, and Florida's incredible response to legislative challenges. The creation of the Florida UAS Coordination Group has shown the power of coordination and collaboration. By building relationships and sharing resources, we can overcome the hurdles thrown at us. Watch our discussion on this here:

So, here's the deal: We need your voice to shape drone legislation. Lobbying may have its grip, but together, we can make a difference. Drones have already become a bridge, bringing law enforcement and fire departments together like never before. While we may have temporary band-aids in the form of agency-to-agency assistance, it's crucial that we stay informed, engaged and build a strong network.

Let’s keep pushing for a brighter future. Stay informed, be passionate, and together, we'll soar to new heights!



This published op-ed is by Maurice Mugo, a drone enthusiast. The opinions expressed in this it are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of DSLRPros.