Drone Workgroup Flies into Formation

The Maryland State Geographic Information Committee, often called  MSGIC, held the first meeting of a new standing statewide workgroup on drones.

Al Wainger of Michael Baker Intl led the discussion for the first meeting a statewide UAS workgroup.

Drone pilots, contractors, and aviation consultants joined representatives of state and county governments this week for the initial meeting of a workgroup on unmanned aerial systems, commonly called drones.

Meeting attendees included representation from:

  • Private entities including: surveying companies, government consultants, construction management firms
  • State agencies including: Maryland Environmental Service, Maryland Department of Transportation, Maryland State Highways Administration
  • County associations including: Maryland Association of Counties and Baltimore Metropolitan Council
  • County government entities, including: Baltimore County Community College, Baltimore County Public Works, Calvert County IT/GIS

The group reviewed the most recent updates from the FAA on current regulation and next steps, shared in a presentation that was developed just a few weeks ago.

The group discussed:

  • Anticipated federal regulatory changes in the areas of night flying, flying over people, and flying beyond a piot’s visual line of sight
  • Issues created by increased hobbyist use of drones
  • Differences between hobbyist and commercial applications
  • Various applications of drone technology for state and local governments and how governments can best assess responses to requests for drone contractors
  • upcoming educational opportunities, including the FAA UAS Symposium June 3-5 in Baltimore, Maryland.

The group also discussed future meetings and a focus for their work. Additional education seemed to be a recurring theme in the discussions. Needed education for law enforcement to assist in stopping misuse of drones, education of hobbyist pilots to limit interference and violations, and education of state and local government contracting entities prior to entering into a contract for drones. All meeting participants agreed to assemble and share an email list for communications and plan to meet quarterly.

MACo’s upcoming Summer Conference will feature education sessions on drone applications for county governments, and other related topics, in coordination with the MSGIC UAS Work Group.