Iowa UAS report: industry, government interest strong

By Luke Geiver | December 23, 2014

The Iowa Department of Public Safety has issued a report on the state’s potential use and regulation of unmanned aerial systems. Following the requests of legislators earlier in the year, the DPS issued a questionnaire to state-based UAS stakeholders, conducted research on existing UAS laws and potential regulation precedents and identified potential UAS applications for the state. The questionnaire results, law research and application work was all used to create the report. The conclusion of the report revealed that the state stands to greatly benefit from UAS implementation across multiple industries, and, that any preemptive regulation of UAV use should be stalled.

“There are several factors that must be balanced when looking at private use regulation,” the report said. “It is important that we protect our citizens from bad actors in such a way that does not overly inhibit First Amendment rights and the free market. It was apparent from the responses received to the UAS questionnaire that the commercial potential for unmanned aircraft use in Iowa’s future is broad,” adding that “there was a general consensus among stakeholders against the blind over regulation of an industry that has the potential to benefit business growth in Iowa.”

The questionnaire was sent out to 31 organizations, associations or industry representatives in Iowa to gauge their thoughts on UAS potential—11 responded. Many of the respondents did no indicate they were currently using UAS technology, but, according to the report, “even though there are relatively few Iowans currently using unmanned aircraft technology, the future interest in the use of unmanned aircraft technology for business, industry and government is very strong.”

Current interest or potential uses for UAS will come in the following categories, the report said.

-scouting and evaluating crop conditions

-waterway surveys

-airport runway inspection

-airport wildlife management

-special event traffic monitoring

-emergency disaster area monitoring

-damage assessment and recovery monitoring

-work zone monitoring

-search and rescue

-evidence collection by taking 3D images of a crime scene

-tactical situational awareness

-combating fires with thermal imaging

In addition to an explanation of the state’s strong interest in implementing UAVs into private industry and government functions, the report also discussed current laws applicable to UAVs. And, while there may need to be future laws created for the use of UAVs, the report pointed to the advent of the internet and smartphones as a precautionary tale against over regulation. According to the report, pre-emptive regulation of the internet could have stymied growth and the same philosophy applies to the emerging U.S., and Iowa, UAS industry.

“It is important to take a look at historically how the nation handled the regulation of other technology to determine the paths that we should take for unmanned aircraft technology,” the report said. “It may be beneficial for Iowa to take a page from the history books and regulate unmanned aircraft technology as regulation is needed rather than a preemptive manner.”

To view the full report, click here.