Thursday, March 6, 2014

State CIO Presents Unmanned Aircraft Systems Report to General Assembly

The Office of the State CIO presented a report that supports the safe and responsible use of unmanned aircraft systems by local and state governments.
Mar 6, 2014

The Office of the State Chief Information Officer presented a report to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Information Technology today that supports the safe and responsible use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) by local and state governments. A working group led by the State CIO’s Office and the Department of Transportation developed the report as directed by the General Assembly in the 2013-14 budget. The UAS Working Group included representatives from local government, state agencies, and universities. 

The group studied potential uses for unmanned aircraft, as well as safety, citizen privacy, data management, costs, and funding considerations. Uses that were identified include search and rescue, emergency response, surveying, mapping, firefighting support, assessing natural disasters, agricultural research, and public safety. Based on the potential benefits UAS offers, the report proposed the formation of a statewide Governance Board to guide the state’s adoption of this emerging technology.

“We recommend that the state build on the success of its UAS test program while addressing the privacy and safety issues that surround any developing technology,” said State Chief Information Officer Chris Estes. “UAS is a promising innovation that has the potential to help government work more efficiently and bring jobs to North Carolina.”

The acquisition and operation of UAS by state and local governments is currently prohibited in North Carolina unless a special exemption is obtained from the State Chief Information Officer. In 2013, the State CIO approved a test program under the direction of the NextGen Air Transportation Center (NGAT) at North Carolina State University. Operations limited to research purposes are being conducted in three remote North Carolina locations.

Unmanned aircraft present a significant economic development opportunity for the state in partnership with Research Triangle Park, the technology sector, the agricultural industry, and colleges and universities, the report said. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International estimates a UAS industry could create nearly 1,200 jobs and $600 million in economic activity in North Carolina by 2025.