Doug Toppin's Blog

My thoughts on technology and other stuff

Drones and News Events

For some time I’ve been thinking that news organizations are going to embrace drones (UAVs) in a big way for on the spot broadcasting of news events. This is going to bring up a large number of issues and questions regarding safety, legality and privacy. The issue of privacy will be made more difficult because the FAA is responsible for the regulation of safety but not privacy. Safety is complicated by a large number of factors including is the drone autonomous, who can fly it if not and how they are licensed, where it can be flown (how close to an event or above the event), conflicting with law enforcement or emergency response and so on. Currently, news helicopters are restricted (by the FAA) as to how low they can hover in the airspace for safety reasons. Drones being much smaller do not have the same restrictions and it may be impossible to determine who is actually flying the drone. I can easily imagine paparazzi and news organizations being willing to expend a few thousand dollar drone to get close up footage of something and law enforcement having no means of preventing or interdicting the drone. This is likely to cause interest in developing technology that enables the non-lethal interdiction of drones but that is very difficult and potentially dangerous. The following shows a couple of schools that are now beginning to add the usage of drones to their journalism classes which will help accelerate the adoption of this technology. http://www.fastcompany.com/3006192/drones-go-journalism-school

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