No doubt, drones have a lot of negative consequences. Of course, they infringe on people’s privacy and also pose security concerns, but the several calls for the restraining of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in New York City are going too far. These calls fail to recognize the variety of benefits that drones can be put, ranging from emergency situations to industrial applications.
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In time of emergencies, drones can provide vital information, thereby helping them assess risk during events such as train derailments, floods, fires, and hurricanes.
For instance, if there were drones during Hurricane Sandy, first responders could have used real-time video to evaluate flooding and fires and possibly even had drones deliver water and medical supplies to people at a breezy time.
It has been seen that the pictures drones often send back are clear, precise, and in some cases breathtakingly beautiful. These qualities make drones invaluable for engineering and construction applications as well. They can be used in dangerous situations like the inspection of bridges, roads, buildings, cellphone towers, and roofs. Helicopters are far more expensive and less nimble compared to drones.
In places like New York City, drones are being flown close to the ground—which is legal anyway—to inspect cleanup efforts in Coney Island Creek, Flushing Bay, and the Gowanus Canal, as well as to keep an eye on the Long Island and Staten Island coastlines.
Despite the fact that Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is pondering on new rules for drones, it does not allow them to fly within five nautical miles of an airport, a no-fly zone that covers most of New York City. Just as Crain’s has reported, the mayor’s office is yet to issue a single drone permit for filming in public property.
Although some users might abuse the usage of drone, it’s not enough to call for a drastic limitation on the places and ways that UAVs can be used in New York City or even banning them outright. The government should allow licensed professionals to safely operate drones in a manner that benefits society and enhances safety. This is why steps to intelligently regulate UAVs and support mandatory training and registration, at point-of-sale or otherwise, are readily welcome.
Of course, it is obvious that many people see drone as a stealth weapons that rain death in war or allow neighbors to spy on us. Thus, the idea that a company such as Amazon.com or Domino’s could bring them to New York City for jobs as banal as pizza delivery is, at best, is a joke begging for a punch line. This is a normal experience with most fast-advancing technologies, and drones are not exceptions. Many people are imagining all sorts of sinister uses. But drone use for emergency and industrial applications enhances safety and provides cost-saving benefits.
The bottom line is that while drones for many people may create darkly comic images of skies filled with hundreds of pizza-delivery vehicles, it could actually do offer better services.
Severely limiting UAVs is not the answer in New York City. It’s more advantageous to give drones the opportunities to advance engineering and infrastructure projects and to be lifesavers when needed. They can serve pizza, but they can also serve the public good as well.