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Legislators, first responders, & drone advocates discuss the buzz with drones




An Airtanker dropping fire retardant on a wildfire at The Springs FIre in Banks-Garden Valley, ID, Boise National Forest, Idaho Dept. of Lands, August, 2012. This photo was taken with a drone
An Airtanker dropping fire retardant on a wildfire at The Springs FIre in Banks-Garden Valley, ID, Boise National Forest, Idaho Dept. of Lands, August, 2012. This photo was taken with a drone
Kari Greer of U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr

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State legislators are working to paint a much clearer picture of what is and isn’t allowed when it comes to flying drones as the clock ticks down on a September 11 deadline to pass new legislation regulating drone use.

A group of interested parties including NASA, drone manufacturers, and law enforcement agencies were invited to Tuesday’s meeting of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management in Sacramento to share their thoughts on the benefits and risks of personal drone operation. First responders and emergency managers also weighed the pros and cons of using drones as a cost-effective way to do things like search for lost hikers, help fight fires, keep an aerial eye on crime scenes, or follow suspects.  

The bills being considered would regulate many aspects of how drones operate, including rules for flying over private and government property, how collected surveillance footage is stored and monitored, and how far private drones must stay away from emergency responders. State fire officials are worried after several incidents in recent weeks of private drones flying too close to emergency response operations.

How should the state regulate drone operation? Do you think this is an issue best left to the federal government? What are the benefits and risks of first responders and law enforcement using drones? What are the privacy concerns at play?

Guests:

Lt. Barbara Ferguson, sheriff’s legislative liaison for San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. She was at Tuesday’s meeting in Sacramento

Richard Hanson, government and regulatory affairs representative for the Academy of Model Aeronautics, was at Tuesday’s meeting in Sacramento