Magazine article University Business

Drafting Policies for Campus Drones: This Emerging Technology Provides Both Opportunities and Challenges for Universities

Magazine article University Business

Drafting Policies for Campus Drones: This Emerging Technology Provides Both Opportunities and Challenges for Universities

Article excerpt

Future use of unmanned aerial systems, more commonly known as "drones," is limited only by the imagination (and physics). Needless to say, the use of drones for both commercial and private purposes will only increase.

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This emerging technology provides not only opportunities for colleges, but also headaches. Balancing the benefits--from improved academic curriculum to research grants to enhanced fan experiences at sporting events, and everything in between--with safety and privacy risks is fast becoming a must-do item for every university. Simply adopting a campus policy that either prohibits or permits all drone activities is not appropriate balancing.

Inadequate guidance

Unfortunately, the Federal Aviation Administration's drone rules are not a complete solution.

Although Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (UBmag.me/107) covers a broad spectrum of commercial uses for drones weighing less than 55 pounds, it lacks restrictions related to privacy. Instead, the FAA defers to state and local laws. Nor does Part 107 address a substantial population of on-campus users who fly their drones only for personal, recreational purposes.

Part 101 applies to those users with the ambiguous statement that recreational drones may not be operated "so as to endanger the safety of the national airspace system." It provides no specifics about operating drones safely and fails to address privacy. That means, in many instances, those issues may fall squarely on campus administrators to resolve.

Covering creativity

Here are a few considerations administrators should evaluate when developing drone policies around safety and privacy.

Part 107 provides common-sense safety restrictions that should be the minimum standard adopted by colleges; these include prohibiting drones from dropping of objects, carrying hazardous cargo or operating over people. …

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