MAPPS asks states to enable UAS for surveying

By Emily Aasand | December 17, 2014

The Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors Executive Director John Palatiello has called on state legislatures to exempt aerial surveying and mapping from any legislation limiting unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

“Photogrammetry and remote sensing, making measurements from aerial photographs taken from manned aircraft, and satellite images, respectively, to make maps, has been in existence for decades without problem or controversy,” said Palatiello. “In many states, photogrammetry is defined as the practice of surveying, requiring supervision by a licensed professional. There are adequate safeguards to protect the public when these activities are performed from UAVs.”

Palatiello spoke before the National Conference of State Legislatures explaining how photogrammetry and remote sensing provides a social benefit and state legislation that limits the use of UAS technology will have unintended consequences. Palatiello noted that aerial surveying and mapping were specifically mentioned in the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration Roadmap for UAS and earlier this week, the FAA approved exemptions for two MAPPS members, Woolpert and Trimble.

“As much as 90 percent of government information has a geospatial information component and up to 80 percent of the information managed by business is connected to a specific location,” said Palatiello. “Aerial geospatial data acquisition contributes to E911 emergency response and police dispatching systems, precision agriculture, environmental protection, emergency “blue tarp” surveys to support hurricane response services to your constituents and the use of UAVs will make such activities more effective and economical.” 

He recommended privacy legislation that focuses on the individual citizen in a manner that is “agnostic” to individual technologies, such as UAV.

“Aerial geospatial data acquisition using UAVs provides significant societal benefit and is not a threat to individual citizen privacy, and should not be limited,” said Palatiello. “Any state efforts to impose limits on UAVs should exempt aerial mapping.”

In September, MAPPS was selected as a member of the FAA’s Aviation Rulemaking Committee to help provide input from users or potential users of UAS on immediate, near- and long-term issues for integrating UAS into the national airspace system.

The ARC is looking at beyond visual line of sight use of UAS which is the next group of regulations that the FAA will be writing after establishing the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

MAPPS formed in 1982 and its membership includes member firms working on satellite and airborne remote sensing, surveying, photogrammetry, aerial photography, LIDAR, hydrography, bathymetry, charting, aerial and satellite image processing, GPS, and GIS data collection and conversation services, among other service providers.